Murdoch aims to 'put myths to bed'

Braintree and Witham Times: Rupert Murdoch is giving evidence before the Leveson Inquiry at London's Royal Courts of Justice Rupert Murdoch is giving evidence before the Leveson Inquiry at London's Royal Courts of Justice

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch said he planned to "put some myths to bed" in his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

The 81-year-old said rumours he had not forgiven Prime Minister David Cameron for setting up the inquiry were untrue and welcomed the probe, adding: "I think the need is fairly obvious, there have been some abuses shown. I would say there have been many other abuses but we can all go into that in time. The state of the media in this country is of absolutely vital interest to all its citizens. Frankly I welcome the opportunity because I wanted to put some myths to bed."

Mr Murdoch admitted he was a "great admirer" of Baroness Thatcher - who the Sun supported in the election of 1979, but the News Corp chairman and chief executive, said he had never asked a prime minister for anything.

He was questioned about a lunch with then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher at Chequers on January 4 1981 at which he discussed his plans to buy The Times and The Sunday Times.

Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, asked him: "Were you seeking to demonstrate to her that you were the right man to acquire these great papers because you had the qualities and charisma to take the papers forward, and, equally importantly, you had the will to crush the unions?" Mr Murdoch corrected him, saying: "No, I didn't have the will to crush the unions. I might have had the desire, but that took several years."

He rejected suggestions that he is a "Sun King" figure who uses his charisma to exert his authority over his worldwide media empire, saying he runs News Corp "with a great deal of decentralisation".

Mr Murdoch also denied claims that he used his titles to promote his business interests. He said: "I take a particularly strong pride in the fact that we have never pushed our commercial interests in our newspapers."

Asked about his relationship with Baroness Thatcher, Mr Murdoch said he could not remember telling former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, after the newspaper decided to support Michael Heseltine over her: "We owe Thatcher a lot as a company, don't go overboard in your attacks on her."

He admitted giving former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie a "bollocking" after the headline "It's The Sun Wot Won It" appeared on the front page of the newspaper in April 1992 following the Conservatives' general election victory.

He said: "I thought it was tasteless and wrong for us. It was wrong in fact - we don't have that sort of power. I think some papers you can recognise as having very strong Conservative roots and some very strong Labour roots, but I can't say that of The Sun. I think we are perhaps the only independent newspaper in the business."

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