A lobbyist for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation "bombarded" Jeremy Hunt's special adviser with information about the media giant's bid to take over BSkyB, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.
Adam Smith said the Culture Secretary and his department knew he was in contact with Fred Michel, News Corp's former director of public affairs in Europe. But Mr Smith, who quit as Mr Hunt's special adviser last month after admitting he got too close to Mr Michel, said he ignored much of the correspondence sent to him by the lobbyist.
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the Leveson Inquiry, asked him: "You felt you were being bombarded by information from Mr Michel?"
Mr Smith replied: "Yes. He sent me quite a substantial amount of correspondence that was going on between News Corp and Ofcom (the broadcasting regulator) and the OFT (Office of Fair Trading), and obviously he was in touch a lot."
The former special adviser agreed he felt that he was more the recipient of information from the lobbyist than the provider of it. He told the hearing: "A lot of the information he sent me, I did nothing with."
Mr Smith said Mr Michel was the only person he was in contact with at News Corp, and he would report his conversations with him back to Mr Hunt and Department of Culture, Media and Sport officials.
"I would have thought on the odd occasion that I did mention to Mr Hunt one of the issues that I thought was worthy of his attention, I would, I think, almost certainly have said 'Fred's told me X, Y or Z'," he said.
"They generally knew I was in touch. On some certain issues they certainly knew. But I don't think they knew the volume or extent."
The inquiry heard on Thursday that Mr Michel exchanged 191 telephone calls, 158 emails and 799 texts with Mr Hunt's team between June 2010, when News Corp announced its bid, and last July, when it abandoned the plan amid outrage over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Of these, more than 90% were exchanged with Mr Smith, who sent 257 text messages to the News Corp lobbyist between November 2010 and last July. Mr Smith said that 95% of his contact with Mr Michel was via his mobile phone, with only a "handful" of calls made using his office landline.