'Juicy' Murdoch book changes publisher

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The Independent Culture

An unauthorised biography of Rupert Murdoch by the political journalist Michael Crick has been bought for a six-figure sum by the publisher Simon and Schuster.

An unauthorised biography of Rupert Murdoch by the political journalist Michael Crick has been bought for a six-figure sum by the publisher Simon and Schuster.

Mr Crick's book was previously purchased by Fourth Estate, which was taken over by Murdoch's HarperCollins in June. The author then argued that he was placed in an "impossible position" when the subject of his book became his publisher.

The Murdoch biography is due for publication in 2002, and Mr Crick claims that he has uncovered "lots of juicy tit-bits" about the media tycoon.

There are already seven biographies about Mr Murdoch but Mr Crick's book is said to have "more of a political slant". It will, the author says, investigate British politics, including Mr Murdoch's relationship with the Blair Government and his activities and influence during elections.

The controversial connections between Mr Murdoch and the Chinese government will also be examined. The tycoon annoyed his critics last year when he appeared to condone Chinese repression in Tibet in an interview in Vanity Fair magazine and in 1994 he removed BBC news from his Asian Star satellite after the corporation carried reports that were critical of China.

The book is also expected to uncover the background to the furore at HarperCollins in 1998 over a book about Hong Kong written by the former governor Chris Patten, which was dropped by the publisher amid speculation that Mr Murdoch had intervened personally and that he saw it as a threat to his business and political relationship with the Chinese.

It was Mr Crick's widely praised biography of Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare that first established the disgraced Tory peer's reputation for being economical with the details of his past.

Mr Crick also confirmed yesterday that any fourth edition of his Archer biography would also be published by Simon and Schuster.

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