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 883.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 882.

    856. nautonier
    Cameron has too much on his plate - as dealing with the Gordo brown doo-doo mess left by Labour
    //////
    Everybody knew Labour weren't going to win the last election, so you'd think the Tories would have had a plan in place to tackle the "mess left by Labour". That is a) not the case or b) not working which in my eyes make this lot even worse than Labour.

  • Comment number 881.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 880.

    Apart from regulars on here and 'band wagonners' - most in UK not bothered about BSky B/ Hunt as blown out of proportion - mainly by the Guardian/BBC

    People are more concerned about jobs/economy/ income levels debts etc

    But Labour brown doo-doo will stick on Cameron & his 'team' unless he starts delivering on what most in UK want to see eg
    - in/out of EU referendum
    - Scottish referendum

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 879.

    870.ste54
    @nautonier

    The Labour govt is blamed by the tories for everything that has happened in the World it would seem.
    +
    Wrong
    Coalition govt blames Labour for those problems that it stewed up for 13 years including a war upon which we're already waiting for Chilcott inquiry.
    BSky B got in a mess under Labour also as no UK media competition policy re BBC monopoly

  • Comment number 878.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 877.

    nautonier
    It must be very hard for you to swallow that your mates DC & Co are so sleazy and posh - perhaps you are too or a Daily Mail reader - and it's plain to see.
    Gordon Brown has more integrity in his little finger than the whole of the tory cabinet put together and still had triple A at the election.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 876.

    Can anyone name anyone who could clear up the gordo brown doo-doo mess left by Labour any quicker than what coalition govt is doing?
    1 year
    3 years
    5 years
    10 years
    50 years?

    We have a coalition govt for a reason?
    Milliband cannot do the job - all he did in govt was suck up to Gordo, knife his bro' in the back and give us the highest energy bills on the planet
    cameron - v - milliband?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 875.

    OK Fred @812
    Plan B
    Life in Drama in Life

    Protest & Policing, both 'reduced' by violence

    Even 'Art' and 'Argument' risks 'reduction'

    Anger 100% understandable

    Protest 100% creditable

    But, "Don't get Mad, get Even"

    Harder for old folks, thinking tied by rent-fears & pension-fears

    Perhaps young could vote, in cohorts, on Equal Sharing of 'their share' of national income-investment?

    In hope

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 874.

    Its taken a long time since the original phone hacking case and trial but what an incredible can of worms has been opened. The tangled web of politicians, businessmen, police and the unfortunates who were hacked is shocking. Now we are moving towards the final stages of this diabolical story and with it disclosure of our own Governments complicity. We need to rebuild our institutions for everyone

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 873.

    855.DrRatters

    @849 do you read a Murdoch paper by any chance? I'm genuinely curious...

    No - I don't read a Murdoch newspaper

    You may not realise but from my hundreds of posts on these sites, I do have a problem with the notion of trouble making foreigners doing anything problemattic in the UK, especially England.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 872.

    At a time when the UK is in recession, high unemployment, and much more the country deserves a government that takes decisive and effective actions.

    The revelations from the Leverson enquiry and all that has happened since has shown the UK has a government that dithers. We deserve better than this!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 871.

    Meanwhile...in a parallel universe...

    "Yup, it's all true.
    There was a big deal to make sure we didn't mess them up because we would get messed up bigtime too.
    They know far too much about our scams but hey that's capitalism, you scratch my back I scratch your back and as long as no-one goes too far we can all get stinking rich and pretend we're acting in the best interests of the public"

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 870.

    @nautonier

    The Labour govt is blamed by the tories for everything that has happened in the World it would seem.
    Would you tell the greeks that is all gb's fault.
    Live in the real world, without blaming those no involved in the current situation.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 869.

    Politics stinks. Always has always will.

  • Comment number 868.

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

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 867.

    Make no mistake about it nothing that Cameron or his posh mates do is for the good of the many his actions are for the chosen few. Murdoch was one of those chosen few until it all went pear-shape. If all this had missed the radar we would have been none the wiser and Murdoch would have been the Tories star for years to come.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 866.

    Diehard tories (e.g. 842 & 841) desperately trying to defend the indefensible by deflecting attention from the incumbent government really doesn't wash. I very much doubt if everyone disgusted by this latest sleaze is a Labour voter...some of us tried voting LibDem and look what they did!
    We have a government that throw their subordinates to the wolves to save their own skin

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 865.

    I could understand all this fuss if in fact News International had actually aquired BSkyB in some underhand way with the help of the culture secretary but in July last year it pulled out the bid. Before News International became so tainted some people supported the bid and others didn't, now no one does. End of.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 864.

    853. col5050
    It is only accepting 'on message' posts, i.e. those that criticise the Tories and praise Labour.
    ////////
    I wish I could prove you wrong by posting something positive about the Tories but I can't. However, if you bothered reading posts on here you'd see quite a few that are just as critical of Labour. But then, it's more convenient to believe in conspiracies than facts.

 

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