Wednesday 25 April 2012

I want to put it to bed once and for all, that that is a complete myth… that I used the influence of the Sun or the supposed political power to get favourable treatment.

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has told the Leveson Inquiry Gordon Brown was not in a "balanced state of mind" when he declared "war" on his company. Mr Murdoch, 81, said the then-prime minister called him after the Sun moved to back the Conservative Party in 2009. He quoted Mr Brown as saying: "Well, your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company." Mr Murdoch said he had frequently met Tony Blair when he was prime minister. The media mogul said he regarded Mr Blair as a personal friend and enjoyed speaking to him before, during and after his time as prime minister. In a written statement to Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media ethics, he recalled the then-Labour leader speaking "convincingly about the ability of a new Labour Party to energise Britain" at a News Corp conference in 1995. "Mr Blair did not expressly request our support in 1995, 1997 or any other election, but he was a politician and I had no doubt that he would welcome the support of our newspapers and our readers," he said. "I want to say that I, in 10 years of his power, never asked Mr Blair for anything. "Nor indeed did I receive any favours. If you want to check that, I think you should call him." David Cameron In a written statement to the inquiry Mr Murdoch said he first met David Cameron, who was then Leader of the Opposition, at a family picnic at his daughter's country home. They did not discuss politics as they were surrounded by children, Mr Murdoch said. Mr Cameron visited him at his offices in Wapping, east London, some time later at the Tory leader's request. Continue reading the main story Analysis Peter Hunt News correspondent This evidence session was an opportunity Rupert Murdoch declared "to put certain myths to bed". High up on his list was the idea that he uses his papers and his contact with politicians to further his commercial ambitions. Hitting the desk at one point, he insisted, "In ten years I never asked Mr. Blair for anything. Nor did I receive any favours". Rupert Murdoch, according to Rupert Murdoch, is a man who doesn't know many politicians and who has never asked a PM for anything. His proudest achievement is clearly the success of the Sun newspaper -- ministers seeking an insight into his thinking should read the tabloid's editorials. There are several more hours to go with an 81 year old witness who's already told the court he doesn't do subtlety and he's not very good at holding his tongue. What more might he say? Read more from Peter Mr Murdoch said: "Mr Cameron, since his election as prime minister, I have met principally in social settings, where little of substance was discussed." The News Corp chairman said he could not remember meeting Mr Cameron on a yacht near the Greek island of Santorini in August 2008, but that his wife Wendi could. Counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay QC asked Mr Murdoch if he had discussed policy such as broadcasting regulations with Mr Cameron. "Mr Jay, you keep inferring that endorsements were motivated by business motives and if that had been the case we would have endorsed the Conservative Party in every election," he said. "But I didn't. I was interested in issues." He said he had become "disillusioned" with politicians and thought it was a waste of time to discuss the BBC or Ofcom with them. "If I'd been interested in commercial interests I would have supported the Conservative Party in every election because they were always more pro-business," Mr Murdoch said. "I want to put it to bed once and for all, that that is a complete myth… that I used the influence of the Sun or the supposed political power to get favourable treatment." He said the perception of his influence over politicians irritated him.