Murdoch to speak on hacking scandal

Dorset Echo: Rupert Murdoch is to continue to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry Rupert Murdoch is to continue to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry

Rupert Murdoch is to continue his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry by answering questions about how he dealt with allegations of criminal behaviour at his British newspapers.

The News Corporation chairman and chief executive will be asked about his response to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and claims his journalists illegally paid public officials for information.

Mr Murdoch, 81, began two days of testimony to the press standards inquiry on Wednesday by describing how successive British prime ministers wooed him to win his papers' backing.

He said Tony Blair was a "personal friend" and recounted how David Cameron as leader of the opposition took a detour from a holiday in Turkey to meet him on his daughter's yacht off a Greek island in 2008. But he insisted: "I have never asked a prime minister for anything."

Mr Murdoch also claimed that Gordon Brown rang him in an "unbalanced" state of mind and "declared war" on his media empire after The Sun switched support to the Conservatives in September 2009.

The former prime minister denied contacting the media tycoon about the daily tabloid's change of allegiance. He said the allegation was "wholly wrong" and called on Mr Murdoch to correct his evidence.

Mr Murdoch, who was watched as he gave evidence by his wife Wendi Deng and son Lachlan, told the hearing he wanted to use his appearance to "put some myths to bed".

He said rumours that he has not forgiven Mr Cameron for setting up the Leveson Inquiry were untrue, and rejected suggestions that he is a "Sun King" figure who uses his charisma to exert his authority over his worldwide media empire.

The billionaire also denied using his newspapers to promote his commercial interests. But he admitted: "It's only natural for politicians to reach out to editors, and sometimes proprietors if they are available, to explain what they are doing and hoping it makes an impression and it gets through."

The Leveson Inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, has a wide-ranging remit to examine the culture, practices and ethics of the press, and make recommendations for the future regulation of British newspapers.

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