Murdoch inquiry pressures UK government

2012-04-25 09:04

kalahari.com

London - Rupert Murdoch's appearance before a press ethics inquiry on Wednesday threatens to heap pressure on the British government after its links to the tycoon's empire were exposed during Tuesday's evidence.

News Corporation boss Murdoch will appear before the Leveson inquiry to answer questions over his British newspapers and his links to UK lawmakers, a day after his son James was quizzed over the company's ties to the government.

The inquiry, set up after the tabloid phone-hacking row, on Tuesday heard how James got regular confidential updates from the government over News Corporatio's bid for full control of pay-TV giant BSkyB.

In a dramatic day of evidence, a string of e-mails from the Murdochs' media empire revealed the closeness and frequency of News Corporation's contacts with advisors to culture minister Jeremy Hunt.

British newspapers on Wednesday suggested Rupert Murdoch could use his appearance to twist the knife into a government which he believes made him a scapegoat during the scandal that dominated last summer's headlines.

James Murdoch, aged 39, admitted on Tuesday he had discussed the proposed takeover at a 2010 Christmas party with David Cameron - though the prime minister has previously denied having had any "inappropriate conversations".

Telling texts

But the top News Corporation executive denied that Hunt had been an active "cheerleader" within government for the now-abandoned takeover bid.

However, transcripts of text messages between Frederic Michel, News Corporation's public affairs executive, and Adam Smith, special advisor to Hunt, appear to reveal close collaboration over how to counter the deal's opponents.

In one text published on the inquiry's website, Michel wrote: "Think we are in a good place, no?", to which Smith replied: "Very yes. Jeremy [Hunt] happy."

In another, Michel appears to question why the process was taking so long, saying "You did tell me by 24th June".

Smith responded: "And that hasn't changed. But we can't tell journalists that can we!"

News Corporation was forced to drop its attempt to take control of the highly profitable BSkyB in July after its British newspaper wing was engulfed by a phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid.

Bookmakers

But it would have been Hunt's role to make a quasi-judicial decision on whether to allow the deal to go through, although his remit was purely to examine whether it threatened plurality in the media.

As the string of e-mails was aired, bookmakers stopped taking bets on whether Hunt would be forced to resign as demanded by Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party.

"I myself have said all politicians, including Labour, became too close to the Murdochs but this is in a completely different league," Miliband said.

Hunt later said he had acted with "scrupulous fairness" and said he had written to Leveson asking for an early appearance before the inquiry "to resolve this issue as soon as possible".

In his statement, Hunt claimed some of the meetings mentioned in the e-mails "simply didn't happen" and that he had followed the advice of independent regulators throughout the process.

He also accused his critics of "jumping on the political bandwagon".

Media fodder

Cameron's spokesperson insisted the prime minister continued to have full confidence in Hunt, whose remit also includes being the lead minister during the 2012 London Olympics.

Wednesday's newspapers turned the screw on the government, with The Guardian, which uncovered much of the hacking scandal, running with the headline "Minister for Murdoch".

The Financial Times carried "Murdochs turn tables on Cameron and Hunt" on its front page, the Daily Mail "Revenge of the Murdochs".

In Tuesday's session, James Murdoch was also quizzed about his stewardship of News International, News Corporation's newspaper wing which published the now-defunct News of the World.

Murdoch denied that the News International tabloid The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, had backed the Conservatives in the 2010 general election to advance the BSkyB bid.

He admitted he was "friendly" with Britain's finance minister George Osborne and had discussed the bid with him informally on at least one occasion.

The hacking scandal reverberated across the British establishment, claiming the jobs of two senior policemen who had ties to the News of the World and sparking the resignation of Cameron's media advisor, a former editor of the tabloid.

Read more on:    news corporation  |  james murdoch  |  rupert murdoch  |  uk  |  uk hacking scandal  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Wine
 

You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

You might not know what a Tsunami Flip is, but just watching this will turn your eyes into saucers. Check out this first-ever MTB Tsunami Flip in contest here.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
Mountain unicycling – say WHAT?
Top tips to ensure you’re running right
Stand-up paddle boarding a great workout

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Product Manager

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Quantex Executive Recruitment

Maintenance Manager

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
DAV Professional Placement Group
R450 000 Per Year

Job: Social Media Manager – Digital Marketing Agency, Cape Town – R12,000 - R18,000

Cape Winelands
Initiate International
R12 000 - R18 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Pushing too hard and doing too much may have left you feeling drained and overwhelmed. You may need time out to recharge and reset...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.