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Influential presence in the corridors of power

His Gallic charm and diligence is well regarded, as is his ease at making friends in high places.

Indeed, Frederic Michel was described yesterday by James Murdoch as News Corp's "PO box" for correspondence between Government ministers and the family of media tycoons, such were his well-oiled connections.

The chief public affairs adviser to James Murdoch reportedly had a direct conversation with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt within minutes of the story breaking about News Corp's attempts to take full control of TV company BSkyB.

That deal flopped after the News of the World phone hacking crisis but Mr Michel's reputation remained intact with the French national, who is known as just Fred, subsequently promoted to the senior vice-president of government affairs and public policy for Europe.

While he had the ears of many in the corridors of power, James Murdoch had also taken note of his persuasive negotiating talents.

Mr Michel's rise into the higher echelons of European business and political life followed his graduation from the Institute of Political Studies in France, Sussex University and the London School of Economics, where he gained a MPhil.

A PhD fellowship followed with the European University Institute in Florence and the French Foreign Office. Mr Michel moved to News Corp after a spell at a reputation management company.

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