Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 6 News List

No record of former PM’s ‘war’ call to Murdoch: officials

AFP, LONDON

The British government has no record of a telephone call in which media mogul Rupert Murdoch claims former British prime minister Gordon Brown told him he would “make war” on his News Corp empire, it said on Friday.

Giving evidence to Britain’s Leveson Inquiry into press ethics in April, Australian-born Murdoch, 81, claimed Brown had made the threatening call in late 2009 after his Labour Party lost the support of Murdoch’s Sun tabloid.

However, Brown, who subsequently lost power in 2010 elections, told the inquiry on Monday: “There was no such conversation.”

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, which supports the British prime minister, said on Friday that the only recorded contact between Brown and Murdoch in late 2009 was on Nov. 10, when they apparently discussed Afghanistan.

“This was followed up by an e-mail from Gordon Brown to Rupert Murdoch on the same day referring to the earlier conversation on Afghanistan,” the spokesman said.

Murdoch tweeted on Friday: “I stand by every word I said at Leveson.”

Another former British prime minister John Major also contradicted Murdoch’s testimony at the Leveson Inquiry this week.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Major, who was Conservative prime minister from 1990 to 1997, said Murdoch had demanded he change his policy on Europe.

Murdoch had told the inquiry that he had “never asked a prime minister for anything,” as he tried to downplay his newspapers’ political influence.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was grilled by the inquiry on Thursday over his links to News Corp executives.

During five hours of televised evidence, he repeatedly denied making secret deals with Murdoch’s empire in exchange for the political support of the mogul’s newspapers.

Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry in July last year in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, but in recent weeks it has put his own government on trial over its links to the Murdoch press.

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