GORDON Brown vehemently denied to the Leveson inquiry yesterday that he had threatened to make war on Rupert Murdoch after The Sun switched its support to the Conservative Party in 2009.
“This conversation never took place... I am shocked and surprised that it should be suggested,” the former Labour Prime Minister said under oath.
This directly contradicts the evidence given to the media inquiry – also under oath – by News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch last month.
“At no point in the three years I was Prime Minister did I feel I had the support of The Sun,” Brown said, adding: “I have never asked a newspaper for their support directly” and insisting that his meetings with the media mogul were “few and far between”.
He continued to deny that he or his wife gave the red-top permission to run the story about his son’s illness.
George Osborne took to the Leveson hot seat after Brown yesterday.
The chancellor was quizzed on his involvement in News Corp’s bid for BSkyB, which has thrown a shadow over Jeremy Hunt’s time in office.
Osborne called the bid “a political inconvenience”, saying he “did not have a strong view about its merits because I felt it was going to cause us trouble one way or the other”, referring to the Tory-backing newspapers both for and against the bid.
He added: “I think that judgment has been borne out by events.”
Asked whether reassigning Vince Cable’s responsibility for the takeover bid to Jeremy Hunt – once it emerged Cable was not in favour of the deal – resulted in an “equal and opposite problem”, the Tory MP said that was “not considered”, saying he did not know what the culture secretary’s views on the matter were.
Osborne told the inquiry “the pressure was enormous” to respond quickly to the “political problem that had been unleashed on the government”, which is why the decision to appoint Hunt was made hastily – but said it was “complete nonsense” that there was a “vast conspiracy” between News Corp and the Conservative party.