Leveson inquiry: Gordon Brown was 'unbalanced' & 'pledged war' says Murdoch

  • "I've never asked a prime minister for anything," insists the media tycoon
  • Murdoch claims the Sun is "the only independent newspaper in the business"

Murdoch: I never asked Blair for anything

Murdoch: I never asked Blair for anything
Duration: 2:18 Views: 10k Press Association

Rupert Murdoch has described former prime minister Gordon Brown of not being in a "balanced state of mind" when he rang the media owner to "declare war" on his company.

Mr Murdoch was giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry, which is examining into the culture and behaviour of the UK media.

Mr Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, was giving evidence on his relations with world leaders and former politicians.

He told the inquiry that Mr Brown had called him after the Sun newspaper switched its allegiance to the Conservative Party in September 2009.

The Sun is one of the newspapers owned by Mr Murdoch's company News International.

'Your company has declared war'

Mr Murdoch was reminded of how the newspaper's former editor Kelvin MacKenzie had previously said Mr Brown "roared" at the 81-year-old for 20 minutes and declared war on him.

Mr Murdoch told the inquiry that Mr MacKenzie's account was a "colourful exaggeration", playing down the conversation, but went on to say that Mr Brown was not in a balanced state of mind.

"Mr Brown did call me and said, 'Rupert, do you know what's going on here?', and I said, 'What do you mean?'.

"He said, 'Well the Sun and what it's doing and how it came out'.

"And I said, 'I am not aware of ... I was not warned of the exact timing, I'm not aware of what they are saying, I am a long, long way away. But I am sorry to tell you Gordon, we have come to the conclusion that we will support a change of government when and if there is an election. Not if, but when there is an election'.

"And he said - and I must stress no voices were raised, we were talking more quietly than you and I are now - he said, 'Well, your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company'.

"And I said, 'I'm sorry about that Gordon, thank you for calling', and end of subject."

Asked by counsel for the inquiry how Mr Brown might have "made war" on his company, Mr Murdoch said he did not know, but added: "I did not think he was in a very balanced state of mind."

'I never asked Mr Blair for anything'

Mr Murdoch told the inquiry he had frequently met Tony Blair when he was prime minister.

He said he regarded Mr Blair as a personal friend and enjoyed speaking to him before, during and after his time as prime minister.

In a written statement to the inquiry, he recalled the then-Labour leader speaking "convincingly about the ability of a new Labour Party to energise Britain" at a News Corporation conference in 1995.

"Mr Blair did not expressly request our support in 1995, 1997 or any other election, but he was a politician and I had no doubt that he would welcome the support of our newspapers and our readers," he said.

"I want to say that I, in 10 years of his power, never asked Mr Blair for anything. Nor indeed did I receive any favours. If you want to check that, I think you should call him."

'Hated the BBC'

During his evidence, Mr Murdoch also said that:

- he was a "great admirer" of Baroness Thatcher, whom the Sun supported in the 1979 general election

- insisted that in the early 1980s he "didn't have the will to crush the unions, I might have had the desire, but that took several years"

- maintained that he had "never asked a prime minister for anything"

- claimed he didn't "know many politicians"

- stated "the Sun is the only independent newspaper in the business"

- declared that all prime ministers he had ever known "hated the BBC, and they all gave it whatever they wanted"

Murdoch on Salmond

Murdoch on Salmond
Duration: 0:53 Views: 8k Press Association