Politics News: Leveson Inquiry: Rupert Murdoch says he welcomes probe into …
MEDIA mogul Rupert Murdoch today said he plans to “put some myths to bed” in his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
The 81-year-old said rumours he had not forgiven Prime Minister David Cameron for setting up the inquiry were untrue.
Giving evidence, he said he welcomed the probe: “I think the need is fairly obvious, there have been some abuses shown. I would say there have been many other abuses but we can all go into that in time.
“The state of the media in this country is of absolutely vital interest to all its citizens.
“Frankly I welcome the opportunity because I wanted to put some myths to bed.”
Mr Murdoch admitted he was a “great admirer” of Baroness Thatcher – who the Sun supported in the election of 1979.
Asked by Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, about tweets suggesting he had a “hostile approach to right-wingers and toffs”, the billionaire replied: “Don’t take my tweets too seriously.
“I think I was really saying that the extremists on both sides were piling in on me.”
At the start of today’s hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Justice Leveson said he would “hear every side of the story” about Jeremy Hunt’s involvement in News Corporation’s BSkyB bid before drawing any conclusions.
The inquiry heard evidence from Mr Murdoch’s son James yesterday suggesting the Culture Secretary secretly backed the proposed takeover and leaked inside information to the media giant.
James Murdoch was questioned about a 163-page dossier of emails detailing contacts between Mr Hunt’s office and News Corp director of public affairs Frederic Michel.
Lord Justice Leveson said today: “I understand entirely the reason for some of the reaction to the evidence yesterday and, in particular, to the emails about which Mr Murdoch was asked.
“But I am acutely aware from considerable experience that documents such as these cannot always be taken at face value, and can frequently bear more than one interpretation.
“I am absolutely not taking sides or expressing any opinion, but I am prepared to say that it is very important to hear every side of the story before drawing conclusions.
“In due course I will hear the relevant evidence from all the relevant witnesses, and when I report I will then make the findings that are necessary for me to fulfil the terms of reference that the Prime Minister set for me.”
Mr Murdoch, News Corp’s chairman and chief executive, said he has never asked a prime minister for anything.
He was questioned about a lunch with then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher at Chequers on January 4 1981 at which he discussed his plans to buy The Times and The Sunday Times.
Mr Jay asked him: “Were you seeking to demonstrate to her that you were the right man to acquire these great papers because you had the qualities and charisma to take the papers forward, and, equally importantly, you had the will to crush the unions?”
Mr Murdoch corrected him, saying: “No, I didn’t have the will to crush the unions. I might have had the desire, but that took several years.”
The media tycoon pointed out that he did not ask Baroness Thatcher for any favours, and she did not offer him any.
“I have never asked a prime minister for anything,” he said.