Clegg claims Lib Dems were threatened

DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday backed claims that the Liberal Democrats were threatened with negative media coverage in the hope they would curb their criticism of Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB.

Clegg told the Leveson inquiry that an executive associated with News Corporation recommended the party did not oppose the bid for BSkyB: “[Lib Dem MP] Norman Lamb was told that it would be good for the Liberal Democrats to be open to the bid, otherwise we would expect no favourable treatment from the Murdoch press. Norman was quite agitated about that.”

Referring to the first time he met Rupert Murdoch at a dinner party in 2009 he said: “I was at the very end of the table – where the children sit, so to speak.”

Clegg admitted having lunch with News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel in September 2010 but said it was because their children went to school together. Even though Clegg was in government by this point he insisted they did not discuss the BSkyB bid at the meal.

Meanwhile Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told the inquiry that he believed journalists from The Observer had accessed his personal bank details in 1999.