David Cameron: No 'grand deal' with Murdochs

 

David Cameron: "There's no great mystery here"

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David Cameron says there was "no grand deal" with the Murdochs in return for their newspapers supporting the Conservatives before the 2010 election.

The PM told the BBC he made policies because they were "right for our country", not to suit newspaper owners.

He said he did not believe Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt had broken rules over his office's contact with News Corp during its bid to take over BSkyB.

Labour is to demand the PM makes a Commons statement on the row on Monday.

Mr Cameron has resisted demands to call in his independent adviser on ministerial interests arguing that he wanted to hear Mr Hunt's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on press standards first.

A Labour source said: "David Cameron is still trying to hide behind the Leveson Inquiry.

"With Parliament breaking up on Tuesday, Mr Cameron must come to the Commons and explain to the British people why he is ducking his responsibilities to enforce the ministerial code."

'No great mystery'

The News International-owned Sun newspaper switched its support from Labour to the Conservatives in September 2009.

But Mr Cameron said it was "not true" to suggest there had been a deal in which he would help the Murdochs' business interests or allow the BSkyB takeover to go through, in return for their support for his party.

David Cameron insisted that "there was no grand deal" between him and the Murdochs to trade backing for their company's ambitions for their newspapers in return for support for the Conservative Party in 2010.

There will now be many thousands of words written about the evidence for and against his claim.

That will do the government no good at all but Cameron's calculation is, I suspect, that it's better to have that argument now rather than later.

"It would be absolutely wrong for there to be any sort of deal and there wasn't... There was no grand deal," he said.

He said he had "wanted the support" of as many media chiefs as possible when he was opposition leader, so he could "take the country in a different direction".

He had disagreed with Rupert Murdoch on some issues, including the detention of terrorism suspects and a licence-fee funded BBC, he said.

"The positions I reach are because I believe them, I think they're right for our country. That's the platform I stand on. I do not do things, change my policies to suit this proprietor or that proprietor."

Mr Cameron has faced questions about whether he had discussed the BSkyB bid with James Murdoch at a Christmas party hosted by then News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks in 2010.

He told the BBC the party came shortly after Business Secretary Vince Cable had been stripped of responsibility for ruling on the BSkyB bid, having been secretly recorded saying he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Cameron said he could not recall all the details but it was "something like: clearly that was unacceptable, it was embarrassing for the government, and to be clear from now on this whole issue would be dealt with impartially, properly... but obviously I had nothing to do with it, I recused myself from it".

Influence claims

Responsibility for ruling on the BSkyB takeover in a "quasi-judicial" manner was given to the culture secretary.

Last week the Leveson Inquiry published emails between Mr Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith and News Corporation's head of public affairs Frederic Michel about the company's efforts to take over the 61% of the broadcaster it did not already own.

Start Quote

If he did breach the ministerial code, then clearly that's a different issue and I would act”

End Quote David Cameron Prime Minister

Mr Hunt has denied Labour claims they show the firm had a "back channel" of influence to his office but his adviser quit, saying the extent of contact had not been authorised by Mr Hunt.

Labour says the culture secretary himself should go - because the ministerial code says ministers are responsible for their own actions and those of their special advisers.

They have also accused him of misleading Parliament about whether he had published all exchanges between his department and News Corporation.

It wants the independent adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Alex Allan, to look into the matter, a call backed by some Lib Dems and Conservative backbenchers.

But in his BBC interview Mr Cameron said all the details would be "laid bare" by the Leveson Inquiry - to which Mr Hunt will give evidence next month.

'Fit and proper'

He said the email contact had been "too close" but said as things stood, he did not believe Mr Hunt had broken the code.

But he said he was ultimately responsible for ensuring the ministerial code was upheld and the issue had to be properly investigated.

"If evidence comes out through this exhaustive inquiry [Leveson], where you're giving evidence under oath, if he did breach the ministerial code, then clearly that's a different issue and I would act."

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman told BBC One's Sunday Politics it was "already evident" that Mr Hunt had breached the code.

She added: "Even more seriously than that, when he was responsible for acting quasi-judicially on a hugely important takeover bid of £8bn he did not act impartially."

She also suggested Mr Murdoch should be stripped of his broadcasting licence in the UK.

Asked if he was a "fit and proper" to hold a licence, she said: "I would say that should be examined independently and if I was examining it independently of course I would say 'no'."

 

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  • Comment number 483.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 482.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 481.

    I expect DC during his debriefing with his Special Advisors after the Andrew Marr show said something along the lines of "Who's b***dy idea was it to use the term 'grand deal' ?" This term is going to haunt him for the rest of his political career no matter how long or short that is.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 480.

    Some of you are completely mad attributing this problem to just the tories. This is a democratic problem within the main parties. When you vote Labour in be assued that Murdoch will be sneaking into number 10 again by the back door route and naming children after Mr Milliband. STOP VOTING FOR THE MAIN PARTIES, WAKE UP.

  • Comment number 479.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 478.

    Isn't it about time a certain Mr Blair came forward to answer a few questions as well.
    Let's not forget that this whole sorry saga goes back a lot further than David Cameron.
    Picking on individuals alone will not sort out our self serving political system.

  • Comment number 477.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 476.

    Time to go Mr Cameron and please close the door quietly behind you.

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 475.

    Cameron has little to gain from the Murdochs, unlike Salmond and Sturgeon, who always seem keen to stitch up backdoor deals, If there's any corruption to look out for, Scotland seems to be the key. And New Layabout were v. close - esp. Blair.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 474.

    Lingering Fog @326
    Realism or Hubris?

    Our politics to be controlled by drip-feed of addictions?

    Gossip, titillation, violence, sport, booze & drugs?

    So arrogant our masters: "Joe Public couldn't care less"?

    But none of us proof, ruled by Fear & Greed

    Even Robin Hood had a Fall

    No Little John for us, just Buggins

    Until we leave 'Corruption of Spirit', allow ourselves Equal Democracy

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 473.

    462. Oysterman
    "The BBC is being taken over by the lefties.

    Want evidence? See how many negative ratings this post gets!"

    I can assure you that there are plenty of other reasons why your comment will be voted into oblivion - not least because it doesn't even attempt to engage in the subject being discussed.

    Still, it's nice to see Tsunami of Logic has a friend.

  • rate this
    +64

    Comment number 472.

    The sad thing is that this isn't even about party politics any more, this is about the very nature of our democracy, and to read comments such as "This is a non-issue" or "Don't trouble the PM with this" is sickening. We have allowed ourselves, as a populace, to sleepwalk into a state of affairs whereby our country is run neither for nor by its people. Is anyone really even surprised by this?

  • Comment number 471.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 470.

    When is the next General Election please?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 469.

    451.Oysterman: Who'd a thunk it, we may actually agree on this! Even the 73-74 episode suggested parallels with today. But I'd rather have the media concentrate on 'attacking' govt than providing the usual mental chewing gum, which allows govt a free hand while so many stare slack jawed and drooling at the latest celeb wedding or 'issues' soap. We need media with Balls! (Nooo, not HIM! Real BALLS)

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 468.

    Does anyone believe Dave? All the meetings, the cheerleading, BBC cuts and criticism, Andy Coulson, Jeremy hiding by a tree and Christmas with the Brookes? And Mr Murdoch is a harmless old gent who has no influence at all.
    Most people see 'no great mystery' but rather a deal to keep the media as pro-Tory as possible while the Posh Boys did their worst.
    Will we ever know the full story?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 467.

    No grand deal..okay, but what about the not so grand ones. With all the advisor's and spin doctors, the media grooming,, the statement " No Grand Deals" rings of trouble to come... I mean how difficult to just say "No Deals with the Murdochs, none" Not even free pony rides.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 466.

    "451.Oysterman

    Watch BBC 2 "The 70s". Take careful note 1976-1979, the rise of anarchists, union power, the three day week, ..."

    ... also take note of the appalling managements, the demonization of the unemployed and the end of any dream of ever having 100% employment again. The history I see repeating itself is the huge idealogical mistake that everything is somehow the fault of the poor.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 465.

    Does anybody believe Cameron - he has proved to be nothing more than a vile evil cunning devious ruthless posh boy LIAR, - He could turn out to be ten times more vile than Thatcher .Working masses unite or go under.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 464.

    There was no 'Grand deal' with the Murdochs; the deal was a small one. Notwithstanding, many would still doubt you. Since, we all know the Murdochs cannot back you for nothing, because they are not idiots; these are hard nuts. Surely you must have accepted not to be in their way, for the BSKYB takeover. But this was actually not a grand deal, but a silently comfortable small deal. Isn't it?

 

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