BEHIND THE LINES | WHAT RUPERT MURDOCH WAS TRYING TO SAY

It doesn't get away from our apologies or our blame for anything but this country does greatly benefit from having a competitive press and therefore having a very transparent society. That is sometimes very inconvenient to people but I think we are better and stronger for it.

The Prime Minister to whom I was closest was Gordon Brown. I thought he had good values. Our wives struck up a great friendship. Our children played together on many occasions. I am sorry that he has fallen out with me, but I hope we will repair our relationship.

I wish we had managed to see and fully solve these problems earlier. When two men were sent to prison in 2007, I thought this matter had been settled. The police ended their investigations and I was told that News International conducted an internal review.

This country has given me, our companies and our employees many opportunities. I am grateful for them. I hope our contribution to Britain will one day also be recognised. Above all I hope we will... restore the nation's trust in our company and in all British journalism.

Murdoch is careful to make sure that he apologises for phone hacking, but he appears to be suggesting that some politicians might have an ulterior motive in trying to bring his empire down. Murdoch argues that a competitive press leads to greater transparency, which is bad news for some in the establishment. If he were forced to sell or close his newspapers, the press would be less plural and scandals would go uncovered. Ultimately, he is arguing he is good for Britain.

Although it is true that Rupert Murdoch and Gordon Brown shared some values – such as a Presbyterian work ethic – the media mogul is discrediting the former Prime Minister by paying him a compliment. By suggesting he was close to Brown, he draws attention to the Labour MP’s hypocrisy. In an outburst last week, Brown styled himself as a long-time opponent of the media mogul, claiming he was a multiple victim of phone hacking and that he tried to launch an inquiry. 

Murdoch is re-enforcing his assertion that he was unaware of any wrongdoing. He is placing the blame at the hands of both the police and the staff who carried out the much-criticised internal review into the phone hacking scandal, almost all of whom have now left the company. By placing these between him and the scandal, he hopes to emerge from the affair with the company – and his position at the helm – intact. He still has a long way to go before he can be sure of this, though.

While he is saying the country has done a lot for him, he wants people to remember that he has also done a lot for the country, and especially the media industry, which would have received significantly less investment without him. That the politicians who have courted him over the last decade have now turned on him will be particularly galling. He cleverly talks about restoring trust in all British journalism, suggesting the target will eventually move onto rival newspapers.