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Adam Smith Says He Did Not Give News Corp 'Inappropriate' Inside Information

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ADAM SMITH
Adam Smith has defended the nature of his contacts with News Corporation | PA

Jeremy Hunt's former special adviser Adam Smith has insisted that he did not give News Corporation any "inappropriate" inside information about its bid to take control of BSkyB.

Smith resigned in April over allegations that he had been too close to News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel and admitted at the time that his "activities at times went too far".

But giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry Friday, Smith insisted that while the "tone" of his conversations with News Corp may have been inappropriate the Murdochs would have known the content of what he was saying from other sources.

“I don’t think the substance of what we’ve been through was inappropriate," he said.

Smith's claim appears to contradict aspects of his resignation statement issued in April when he left the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"While it was part of my role to keep News Corporation informed throughout the BskyB bid process, the content and extent of my contact was done without authorisation from the Secretary of State," he said.

"I do not recognise all of what Fred Michel said, but nonetheless I appreciate that my activities at times went too far and have, taken together, created the perception that News Corporation had too close a relationship with the department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary that this needed to be a fair and scrupulous process.

"Whilst I firmly believe that the process was in fact conducted scrupulously fairly, as a result of my activities it is only right for me to step down as special adviser to Jeremy Hunt."

Smith told Leveson that after the internal News Corp emails emerged that suggested he had given the company inappropriate levels of information he offered Hunt his resignation.

He said that the culture secretary told him it would "not come to that" as he had only been doing his job.

But the following day after holding other meetings at which Smith was not present Hunt told him that he had to quit as "everyone here thinks you need to go".

Smith said he resigned not because had behaved inappropriately but because of a "perception" in the media and public mind that he "something untoward had gone on".

Hunt is due to give evidence to the inquiry on Thursday where he is likely to be quizzed over a letter he sent to David Cameron urging him to back the News Corp bid.

Cameron has defended his minister and rubbished claims there was a "conspiracy" to wave the News Corp bid through.