Murdoch senior defends talks with politicians

RUPERT Murdoch yesterday stressed, during his appearance at the Leveson inquiry, that he has never asked for nor been offered any favours by a Prime Minister.

The octogenarian appeared to emerge from his first day at the media ethics inquest largely unscathed despite being driven to defend repeatedly his relationships with senior politicians.

“In the ten years he was in power I never asked Mr Blair for anything, nor did I receive any favours,” Murdoch claimed as he banged his hand on the table.

The media mogul also felt compelled to reiterate several times, in response to claims that he holds too much political influence, that he “never lets commercial considerations” affect the stances his newspapers take.

“I want to put it to bed once and for all... it is a complete myth that I used supposed political power to get favourable treatment,” Murdoch stated.

The News Corp chief executive admitted that he gave former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie “a hell of a bollocking” over the April 1992 headline “It’s the Sun wot won it” which suggested – counter to Murdoch’s claims yesterday – that the tabloid was instrumental in John Major’s ascension to Number 10.

Rupert Murdoch also delved into details of his spat with Gordon Brown, calling the former Prime Minister unbalanced.

Describing a conversation which supposedly took place after the Sun removed its support of the Labour party, Murdoch said Brown declared war on his company and seemed not to be “in a balanced state of mind”.

Murdoch accused Brown of fabricating claims that The Sun hacked into his private medical records, saying “he knew very well” how the tabloid discovered details of his son’s illness.

Brown later issued a statement saying that Murdoch’s “serious allegation” is “wholly wrong” and called for the tycoon to “have the good grace to correct his account.”

Murdoch senior, who said he has a “warm relationship” with Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond and finds him “an attractive person”, also told the Leveson inquiry that the idea of Scottish independence appeals to him on an emotional level.