Live blog – Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson inquiry
- Murdoch says he was surprised when Cameron hired Andy Coulson.
- Murdoch talks about Gordon Brown recounts how the former PM said no alternative to make war on your company.”
- Sadly says he never interfered with the News of the World
- “If you want to judge my thinking look at The Sun.”
- Has never pushed commercial interests in his papers.
- Says “Don’t take my tweets too seriously … “
14:48 – That’s it we’re done for the day and back tomorrow.
14:34 – Jay brings up how Murdoch’s relation with Alex Salmond improved after 2007 after no contact for seven years. From 30 October 2007 there was frequent contact. Rupert Murdoch is a fan of the First minister and SNP leader.
Murdoch says he has a warm relationship with Salmond who he has been in contact with about his Scottish heritage and a “rough, tough” play in New York.
He says that the idea of Scottish independence is “nice” but that he’s “not convinced”.
Murdoch says: “I said we should stay neutral on the big issue, but let’s see how he performs.”
14:31 - Jay asks why was the BSkyB bid announced one month after election, Jay asks?
“I don’t think we gave any thought to the timing of it except that it would be good to talk to all the directors when they were together,” Murdoch says.
14:26 – Murdoch says that he takes the back door out of Downing Street because it’s a short cut to his apartment and where the car is usually parked.
Murdoch says: “They don’t want me to be photographed going in the front. I don’t want to … and it happens to be a shortcut to my apartment so it’s quite OK. And there is a car park behind 10 and 11.”
14:24 – “I enjoy meeting our leaders. Some impress me more than others. One looks at the values, their personalities, their principles.”
Murdoch denies being rewarded for supporting politicians. He says his everyday behaviour proves this.
14:20 – It’s confirmed that Cameron took a detour from his holiday in Turkey to meet Murdoch on his daughter’s yacht.
“All politicians of all sides like to have their views know by the editors or publishers of newspapers hoping that they will put across and will impress people”
Murdoch says this is democracy.
14:19 – Murdoch says that it’s a complete myth that he used power of Sun to get political influence.
“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 says.
When Jay says that it is a recurring theme, Murdoch replies:
“Well in the Guardian and maybe the Independent but not everywhere. After a while if these lies are repeated again and again they catch on. If people are resentful they grab on to them. They just aren’t true.”
14:11 – Murdoch says he wasn’t interested in talking to Cameron about the BBC.
“All previous Prime Ministers hated the BBC and they all gave them what they wanted.”
14:07 – Murdoch says he was not in UK the day The Sun revealed its support for the Conservatives.
Jay asks Murdoch whether he discussed broadcast regulations with Cameron.
Murdoch slams the table and retorts that they discussed Iraq, but that if he backed people for commercial reasons he would always have only supported the pro-business Conservatives in every election.
“I could have been like the Telegraph and texted them every day”, Murdoch says.
Murdoch says he was surprised when Cameron hired Andy Coulson.
Conversation moves on to Cameron
13:00 – Break for an hour for lunch
12:53 – Murdoch suggests that Brown misled the public when he claimed that The Sun had illegally obtained his son’s private medical details.
“He said that we had hacked into his personal medical records when knew very well how The Sun had found out about his son which was very sad”.
Murdoch says that Brown wrote a personal letter to Rebecca Brookes thanking her for her sensitivity covering the story after the event.
War on Murdoch and his company
12:51 – Murdoch talks about his relationship with Gordon Brown and how it changed when he told the PM that he would support a change in governments. He says that along with his son and Rebekah Brooks thought the Labour government had made a lot of mistake.
Murdoch says that Gordon Brown called him and said: “Your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative to make war on your company.”
Murdoch at #Leveson: what has emerged under persistent questioning, despite his denials, is his close involvement in UK’s political process
— Roy Greenslade (@GreensladeR) April 25, 2012
12:41 – Murdoch asked if he had a view as do who should succeed Blair. Jay reads from Blair’s autobiography that Blair believed that Murdoch had written him off. Murdoch says this isn’t the case, but he didn’t think that Blair could win. Murdoch says that he is sure that Brown did not ask him whether there should be a snap election.
“If any politician wanted to know my opinion on political matters they only needed to read my editorial in The Sun”
12:38 – Murdoch asked whether Blair came to him for advice about Chirac – he says no. Jay brings up articles from Sun that describe Chirac as “French worm”. Murdoch says that the paper campaigned strongly that the Euro should be put the people.
12:37 – Harriet Harman from Labour responds She says Hunt had already made up his mind on BSkyB to back the bid and that News Corp and James Murdoch had advance knowledge of statements Hunt was going to make two days before he gave it to the House of Commons. Harman that there was a great deal of transparency for Murdoch, but not the house and opponents of the News Corp bid for BSkyB. Read Jeremy Hunts full statement here
12:35 - Jeremy Hunt making his statement now: Hunt says the Leveson emails that alleged there were back channels between the minister and News Corp are categorically untrue. However, he says the volume and tone of those communications were not appropriate. Says his advisor Adam Smith has resigned.
He says “I want to say on the record I believe he did so unintentionally…and it is a huge regret to me that this happened”. I only saw the transcripts yesterday and they did not influence my decision [on BSkyB]. He has written to Lord Leveson to ask for his appearance to be broth forward. Says he conducted this process with scrupulously throughout.
12:35 – Jay says that all 175 papers supported the war. Murdoch says all papers including New York Times did. Murdoch says Blair did not call him for support about the Gulf war – his position was clear.
12:34 – Murdoch says that he met Blair “maybe two or three times” in the whole election year and so Blair would not have been comfortable enough to ask whether Murdoch would back him. Murdoch confirms he did not back the Euro
12:32 – Murdoch accuses Jay of putting words into his mouth when asked if he remembers a conversation in which he said that the Tories were unelectable – Murdoch says he doesn’t remember this
12:29 – Attention turns to Harper Collins and Lord Pattern’s book on Hong Kong – Jay asks Murdoch whether he pulled the book after hearing Lord Pa. Murdoch says said not to do the book and that this was a huge mistake. He confirms that at the time he had no Chinese enterprise at the time, but soon had a foothold. Now has joint venture there with Shanghai media.
12:23 – Return to business. Murdoch says conversation with Prodi was “friendly conversation” and says he may have talked to Blair separately. He reiterates that he never asked Blair for any favours.
12:12 - Murdoch complains that there are “sinister inferences” being made about his political relations. Murdoch’s says he never asked Blair for anything and did not receive any favours. He’s asked – as he was with Thatcher – wouldn’t the relationship be more subtle than asking and receiving? “I’m afraid I don’t have much subtlety about me.”
12:10pm - Murdoch says he would have been interested in the policies of a future government and how they would impact on his business, but that his commercial interests never changed his papers’ political standing. He says he argued with Blair about the Euro saying he “hated the idea of a single currency full stop”.
12:06pm - Murdoch confirms that he told Blair:
“If our flirtation is ever consumated Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like porcupines very, very carefully.”
There is laughter from the public gallery.
12:02 - Murdoch was reported to have claimed Blair “said all the right things but we’re not letting our pants down just yet” at a dinner reported by Andrew Neil Murdoch agrees that he could have said that.
12:00pm - The inquiry discusses the rise of New Labour with Murdoch saying he wasn’t certain that Blair was going to win the 1997 election.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s special adviser who has quit amid the row over contacts between his office and News Corporation over the BSkyB bid. Smith who was the contact said he “went too far” and gave the impression that the relationship was “too close”. However, he defended his boss and said that Hunt had not authorised the extent of the contact which emerged in emails at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.
Smith said: “While it was part of my role to keep News Corporation informed throughout the BSkyB bid process, the content and extent of my contact was done without authorisation from the Secretary of State. “I do not recognise all of what Fred Michel said, but nonetheless I appreciate that my activities at times went too far and have, taken together, created the perception that News Corporation had too close a relationship with the department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary that this needed to be a fair and scrupulous process.”
11:50 – We’re onto the rise of Tony Blair, asked if he remembers saying he could imagine backing him. Says he had lost faith with John Major’s government. Says Britain had many years of Tory governments and that it is “good for democracy” to change. Says it wasn’t obvious to him that Blair was going to win.
11:46 - Murdoch says he never “let commercial interests enter consideration at elections,” he says.
11:45 - Jay asks “Do you always back the winning side?’ ‘No (long pause) but I’m trying to think when we didn’t.”
11:42 - On The Sun, Murdoch says: “I think we’re perhaps the only independent newspaper in the business”.
11:40 - Murdoch says he gave Kelvin McKenzie a “bollocking” over famous Sun page from 1992 “It was the Sun that won it”. Says it was “tasteless and wrong for it”. He denies that papers have “that sort of power”. Says the Sun is the only independent newspaper in the business. Says its readers are both Tory and Labour.
11:40 - Says he has no memory of saying we owe Thatcher a lot as a company.
11:35 - Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s special adviser Adam Smith says he is stepping down from the role, admitting: “I appreciate that my activities at times went too far. Statement from Hunt is due at 12:30.
11: 30 - Jay mentions the general election in 1987 when Ken Livingstone blamed the Murdoch press for Labour’s third defeat in a row. At a party Rupert is said to have shouted out “That’s me”. “If I said that I’m afraid it was the influence of alcohol … a stupid light-hearted remark.”
11:27 – On Neil Kinnock Asked if he regrets his attacks on Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party, which the Sun was vigorously against. Murdoch says: “If there were personal attacks on Mr Kinnock I would apologise for them, I don’t really remember them”.
Says it was fair to “attack his policies and the way Kinnock expressed himself”. On the day of the general election, The Sun ran a front page featuring Kinnock (headline: ‘If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights’) that he blamed in his resignation speech for losing Labour the election.
11:22 - Jay asked do the tabloids pursue scanadals and cheap titilation? M: That’s an overstatement. We’re not perfect.
11:20 - Rupert Murdoch suggests that TV and film stars, politicians and media proprietors do not have the same expectations of privacy as others. Says let it all out in the open. #Leveson.
11:17 – : On private investigators, Murdoch says “I don’t believe in using hacking or private investigators, it’s just a lazy way for journalists doing their job”. 11:07 - Jay: did you have anything to do with publication of Hitler Diaries in 1983 (in the Sunday Times)? Murdoch answers: “I’m sorry to say Yes”. The diaries turned out to be a fakes.
11:05 - Murdoch says he did not “unfortuantely” have more involvement with the News of the World. He had more involvement with The Sun.
“I never much interfered with the News of the World, I’m sorry to say,” Mr Murdoch says. “I’m not disowning it, or saying it wasn’t my responsibility to, but I was always closer to the Sun.”
11:00 - Re Thatcher: Murdoch is asked if he was one of the main powers behind the Thatcher throne. He says no. He says he did not consult with her regular with matters of policy.
“If you want to judge my thinking look at The Sun.”
10:55 - Murdoch praises Sir Larry Lamb, the former Sun editor, as a brilliant journalist. Says the Sun’s mission was always to tell the truth and serve the public: “truthfulness and what interests British public”. Says he has great respect for the British public.
10:53 - Murdoch says Sun has never been a better newspaper than it has been today. He couldn’t say the same about his competitors. 10:50 - Jay asks if standards at Murdoch’s tabloid newspapers had declined. Murdoch refutes this and said he thought the Sun had a great opportunity when he bought it to take on the Mirror, which he said talked down to his readers.
10:48 - Murdoch asked if he ever open pushes the commercial interests in his newspapers? Murdoch: “No I take a particularly strong pride in the fact that we have never pushed our commercial interests in our newspapers”.
10:45 - Jeremy Hunt to make a statement to Commons at 12:30pm on links to Murdoch during the BSkyB bid as reported yesterday following James Murdoch’s appearance.
10:40 - Murdoch talking about the long strike at The Times by printers and journalists prior to him buying the papers. The papers lost lots of money with doubts over they were going concerns with the Times losing money. He maintains the same line he has said before regarding Times Newspapers that he did “everyone a favour by purchasing”.
10:32 – Murdoch tells Leveson that he has never “asked a PM for anything”.
10:30 - Robert Jay, counsel to the inquiry, reads recent tweets by Murdoch, including one in which he referred to “right-wingers and toffs”. Murdoch says: “Don’t take my tweets too seriously … people on all sides were piling in on me”.
10:25 – Murdoch is asked: “President elect Reagan, Baroness Thatcher and you were all on the same page politically weren’t you?” Murdoch replies : “I guess that’s true.” Murdoch says he “didn’t have the will to crush the unions. I might have had the desire (re Times in 80s)”.
10:15 – Murdoch is talking about his take over of Times Newspapers, including The Times and The Sunday Times, in 1981 from Thomson. Rupert Murdoch begins his appearance by telling the Leveson Inquiry that he wants to put certain myths to bed. He wants to put certain myths about himself to bed.
“The need is obvious. There has been some abuses shown. I would say there are many other abuses but we can go to that in time. The state of media in this country is of vital interest to its citizens. I welcome the opportunity because I wanted to put certain myths to bed.”