BRUSSELS--Telefónica has announced the hire of Frédéric Michel, the controversial lobbyist who previously worked for News Corp.

Michel becomes Europe director of public affairs and communication at the Spanish telecoms group.

As SVP for government affairs and public policy for News Corp, Michel emerged as a key figure during the Leveson Inquiry. He became a focal point for the row over Jeremy Hunt's handling of News Corp's bid for BSkyB, and his contacts with government officials were heavily scrutinised.

Michel held the News Corp position from 2009 until earlier this year. Prior to that he spent six years at consultancy ReputationInc, after working at thinktank Policy Network.

At Telefónica, Michel will report to Richard Poston,Telefónica Europe’s director of corporate affairs. 

He will help to develop and lead Telefónica’s communications and public affairs strategies on EU regulatory and public policy issues, assisting the formulation of policy, providing support and strategic advice to the executive leadership of the company across Europe.

“It is necessary for Europe to recover leadership in innovation and technology and retain talent as critical levers to successfully tackle the present European economic situation and ensure growth," said JoseMaria Alvarez-Pallete, chairman and CEO of Telefónica Europe.

"Telefónica is committed to playing its part and Frédéric's considerable international experience combined with his ability to help companies contribute to the European debate will be a substantial asset as we continue our digital transformation."

"In a critical economic climate, Europe needs to be able to rely on major industry players that are committed to investing, helping innovation and fostering opportunities for young entrepreneurs," added Michel. "Telefónica has a genuine ambition to help draw the EU policy road map and I look forward to contributing to a team that will be crucial in delivering our long-term growth goals."