London - Britain's culture minister Jeremy Hunt, who has battled calls to resign over his close links to executives at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, was promoted to health minister in a reshuffle on Tuesday.

The move surprised political commentators after Hunt clung on to his job in April despite claims that his office leaked confidential information to News Corp over its bid to take full control of British pay-TV giant BSkyB.

Hunt, who oversaw the London Olympics as part of his role as Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, was branded “Minister for Murdoch” by critics, but insisted he did not pass any confidential information to News Corp himself.

Hunt's special advisor Adam Smith resigned over the leaks.

News Corp was forced to drop its £7.8-billion ($12.2 billion, 9.7 billion euro) bid for control of the highly profitable BSkyB in July 2011 over the phone hacking scandal at its British tabloid, the News of the World.

The US-based company still owns 39 percent of BSkyB.

In his first reshuffle since coming to power in 2010 in a coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats, Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to rejuvenate his Conservative Party ahead of the 2015 election. - Sapa-AFP