Socialist Worker

No deal? Murdoch didn't even have to ask

The prime minister is the man at the centre of the Murdoch scandal, writes Simon Basketter

Issue No. 2301

Dave

Dave's pal: Rupert Murdoch (Pic: World Economic Forum)


David Cameron covered up his meetings with Rupert Murdoch.

Cameron has now admitted that he had discussed Murdoch’s £8 billion bid for total control of Sky. This happened at a dinner with the tycoon’s son James at Christmas in 2010. He had denied this before.

Cameron claims that he can’t remember the details of the conversations—but he does remember that nothing improper was discussed.

He repeated with red-faced bluster in parliament this week, “There was no grand deal.”

Perhaps. Rupert Murdoch told the Leveson inquiry that he has never asked a prime minister for any favours. The point is, of course, that he didn’t have to ask.

Cameron declared just one encounter with Murdoch in his first 14 months in office in an official list published in response to outrage over the phone hacking scandal.

But there were at least five.

In his evidence last week, Murdoch spoke of meeting the Camerons at the home of his daughter Elisabeth. She is a member of the posh “Chipping Norton set” based in Cameron’s leafy Oxfordshire constituency.

This same group includes Rebekah Brooks, ex-editor of News of the World, who Cameron goes riding with on borrowed police horses.

Cameron and Murdoch also met on a yacht near the Greek island of Santorini in August 2008. “He was being flown on my son-in-law’s plane,” Rupert added.

He told the inquiry, “All politicians like to have their views known by the editors of newspapers or

publishers, hoping that they will be put across, hoping that they will succeed in impressing people. That’s the game.” So did it work?

Well, Murdoch was invited for tea at Downing Street after the election as a “thank you” for his support. “They always seem to not want me to be photographed going out of the front door,” he said.

Throw

The Tories started to throw their weight behind a number of News Corporation policies in run-up to the last election.

Murdoch made it known that he resented media regulator Ofcom. Cameron quickly announced that the Tories would abolish Ofcom.

In August 2009 Rupert Murdoch’s son James launched an attack on the BBC in a speech at the Edinburgh Festival.

A few days later Jeremy Hunt wrote an article for the Sun calling for BBC cutbacks and for the licence fee to be frozen.

The latest revelations confirm what ordinary people already knew. For all the talk of the “democratic process”, the wealthy look after each other's interests.

Every time they try to draw a line under this scandal, some new disgrace seeps out. And at the top of the stinking pile of corruption is David Cameron.


Back story

The phone hacking scandal has spread from the Murdoch empire to the Tories

  • Phone hacking was known about but mostly ignored, until it was revealed that News of the World had hacked the phone of murder victim Milly Dowler
  • Within weeks Murdoch was forced to close the News of the World—and call off his bid to buy the whole of broadcaster Sky
  • Ever since, Cameron and co have been trying to deny just how close they are to Murdoch


Figure it out

Who's been arrested so far in the phone hacking scandal?

  • 16 News Corporation editors and senior journalists
  • 10 reporters on the Sun and formerly on the News of the World
  • 4 police officers as part of a bribery investigation
  • 15 civil servants and soldiers, including one major


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