Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Department of Culture, Media and Sport

2-4 Cockspur Street London SW1Y 5DH 12th July 2011

Dear Jeremy News Corp/BSkyB merger and your referral to the Competition Commission You will be aware of the deeply held, widespread public concern regarding the proposal by News Corp to acquire 100% shares in BSkyB. In the House of Commons yesterday you announced that you intend to refer News Corp’s bid to the Competition Commission. We welcome that decision; we have been calling for the matter to be referred to the Competition Commission for some time. Nonetheless, we have some grave concerns about the referral being made, in your words ‘with immediate effect’, and without taking time to fully consider the issues in light of yet more shocking allegations that have unfolded in recent days regarding not only the behaviour of reporters at News of the World but also now, The Sun and The Sunday Times. Given the widespread and legitimate concerns that potential criminality and highly unethical practices were prevalent across News International and potentially wider still, we believe it would be a dereliction of your duty as Secretary of State with responsibility for this matter to allow this legal process to continue without ensuring that the public interest in relation to these fundamental issues are taken into account. We appreciate the legal technicalities around this issue, and that the Government may feel constrained by the terms of the reference set out in the Notice issued at the start of the merger process, on 4 November 2010, by the then Secretary of State. At that stage it is understandable (although regrettable) that the public interest considerations put forward related solely to media plurality. We are confident that had the Secretary of State at the time been aware of what we now know he would have included broadcasting standards as a public interest consideration. The failure of News Corp to disclose such critically important information, about the scale and nature of the wrongdoing, prior to the Secretary of State making the decision about the terms of the reference, particularly as it now appears to have been in the possession of News International since 2007, must fundamentally alter the legal path of this merger. However, unless you change the parameters of the original reference to reflect the dramatic change in circumstances, about which we now know, the Competition Commission will be constrained to look solely at the issue of plurality. This cannot be right.

Under these extraordinary circumstances, this is an affront to common sense and a betrayal of the deeply held and justified concerns of the British public. We therefore urge you, in the public interest, to take time to give proper consideration to the full nature and extent of the concerns which have now been expressed by the public, in Parliament and internationally, before finalising the terms of the reference to the Competition Commission. As there is no time constraint imposed upon this process, it would be unreasonable and against the public interest to fail to do so. We appreciate that Ofcom may be considering an independent assessment of the fitness of News Corp as a broadcasting license holder in the UK. However, this does not remove the Government’s responsibility to take the appropriate and necessary action on this issue and to examine and challenge, if necessary, the legal process by which you may feel you are bound. The public’s abhorrence at the allegations that continue to surface must be taken into account when a decision of this magnitude - that goes to the very heart of our democracy - is taken. Yours Sincerely

Ivan Lewis MP Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

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