Rupert Murdoch at Leveson: what we have learned
No political fireworks from media mogul, but Murdoch gives an insight into his career
THOSE who tuned in to the Leveson inquiry this morning hoping for fireworks as Rupert Murdoch began giving evidence to the hearing would have been disappointed.
Counsel for the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, began his interrogation by picking through Murdoch's long career in the British media, and while there were no earth-shattering moments - Murdoch denied exerting any direct political influence over governments - there were some interesting insights into his time as owner of The Times and Sun titles.
He hinted that his relations with Gordon Brown were not as cordial as those with other Prime Ministers and shed some light on some well-known vignettes:
BROWN DECLARED WAR ON MURDOCH
Murdoch poured cold water on Kelvin McKenzie's claims that Gordon Brown "roared" at him for 20 minutes when he withdrew his papers' support for Labour in 2009. He said McKenzie had been "colourful" in his account. But he did reveal that Brown told him: "Your company is declaring war on my Government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company." Asked what Brown meant, Murdoch said he did not know and questioned Brown's "state of mind".
BROWN THANKED BROOKS FOR SICK SON STORY
Murdoch denied claims that the Sun had accessed Gordon Brown's medical records to write a story about his sick son. He claimed that the story came to the paper via a source and that Rebekah Brooks dealt with the story personally to make sure it was handled sensitively. He claimed the Browns even wrote to thank Brooks for the Sun's coverage.
MURDOCH WAS TO BLAME FOR HITLER DIARIES
Murdoch said he was personally to blame for the publication of the faked Hitler diaries in the Sunday Times in 1983. Asked if he had any role in their publication he said: "I'm sorry to say, yes... I take full responsibility for it, it was a major mistake and one I shall have to live with for the rest of my life." He also revealed that historian Lord Dacre, whose reputation was badly damaged by the publication, had "doubts" about their authenticity.
THE ONLY EDITOR MURDOCH SACKED
Murdoch revealed that Harold Evans was the only editor he had "asked to leave". He said he did so because there was a rebellion among staff.
MURDOCH REGRETS MISSING EXPENSES SCOOP
Murdoch regrets not running the MPs expenses story. The Times was offered the personal expense accounts of MPs but editor James Harding turned them down. Murdoch, it seems, was not impressed. He said he was "jealous" of The Daily Telegraph, which published the expenses in the end. "I'm disappointed the editor of The Times didn't buy them when they were offered to him first," he said.
MURDOCH'S 'STUPID' REMARK
Murdoch admitted that he may have had a few too many drinks on the night of the 1987 general election. When Ken Livingstone appeared on TV and blamed media smears for Labour's defeat, Murdoch reportedly jumped up and shouted at the TV: "That's me!". But Murdoch told the inquiry: "If I said that I'm afraid it was the influence of alcohol... a stupid light-hearted remark."
MURDOCH STANDS BY THE SUN
Murdoch stood by The Sun despite its current travails. "It has never been a better paper than it is today," he told the inquiry.
MURDOCH: I DON'T HAVE CHARISMA
Murdoch told the inquiry that he always tried to set a good example to his staff, but denied his personality overshadowed his newspapers. "I try very hard to set an example of ethical behaviour. I make it clear that I expect it. But do I have an aura or charisma? I don't think so." ·