Rupert Murdoch's son James got regular confidential information from the British government over News Corp.'s bid for full control of pay-TV giant BSkyB, a press ethics inquiry heard Tuesday.
It would have been Hunt's role to make a quasi-judicial decision on whether to allow the deal to go through.
A string of emails from News Corporation's director of public affairs Frederic Michel, read out at the Royal Courts of Justice and later published, revealed the closeness and frequency of his contacts with Hunt's advisors.
Murdoch also admitted he had discussed the proposed takeover at a 2010 Christmas party with David Cameron -- though the prime minister has previously denied having had an "inappropriate conversation" with Murdoch about the bid.
News Corp. was eventually forced to drop its attempt to take control of the highly profitable BSkyB in July last year after its British newspaper wing was engulfed by a phone hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid.
Earlier this month, James Murdoch quit as chairman of BSkyB, the British television giant in which his father's News Corp. has a 39-percent stake.
However, James Murdoch remains deputy chief operating officer of the US-based News Corp..
As the string of emails from Michel was aired, bookmakers stopped taking bets on Hunt leaving the government.
One of the emails called the advance information he had obtained "illegal", but Murdoch dismissed that as a "joke".
But Cameron's spokesman insisted the prime minister continued to have full confidence in Hunt, whose remit also includes being the lead government minister during the 2012 London Olympics.
Speaking to reporters, Hunt denied the "cheerleader" accusation and promised to make a statement later.
James Murdoch was grilled about his family's links to politicians as he gave evidence under oath at the inquiry, which was set up in the wake of the hacking scandal.
Rupert Murdoch is due to give evidence on Wednesday and Thursday.
His 39-year-old son admitted that he and the prime minister had talked about the bid for BSkyB at the December 2010 party.
"It was a tiny side conversation ahead of a dinner where all these people were there," Murdoch told the inquiry.
When asked in parliament last year whether Cameron had discussed BSkyB at the party, Cameron said he had "never had one inappropriate conversation."
James Murdoch revealed that he had a total of 12 meetings with Cameron before his Conservative Party came to power in a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats at the May 2010 general election.
He said News Corp executives, including himself, had held numerous meetings with ministers during the company's bid to take full control of BSkyB, of which it owns 39 percent.
In the day-long evidence session, James Murdoch was also quizzed about his stewardship of News International, News Corp's newspaper wing which published the News of the World.
Murdoch denied that the News International tabloid The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, had backed the Conservative in the 2010 general election to advance the BSkyB bid.
"I would never have made that kind of a crass calculation about what the newspapers did," he said.
He admitted he was "friendly" with Britain's finance minister George Osborne and had discussed the bid with him informally on at least one occasion.
But he added: "Nothing I would have said to Mr Osborne would have been inconsistent with any of our public advocacy on the subject."
Speaking to reporters after Murdoch's evidence, Cameron's official spokesman declined to comment. "It is a public inquiry and it should take its course," he said.
The News of the World was closed down in July amid a storm of revelations that it illegally accessed the voicemail messages of a murdered teenage girl and the families of dead soldiers.
James Murdoch quit as News International's executive chairman in February.
Source: AFP Global Edition