Leveson Inquiry: David Cameron 'told how to treat Rupert Murdoch

 

News International executives briefed David Cameron on "what to say and how to say it" before he met Rupert Murdoch but he "refused to play ball", the Leveson Inquiry was told today.

The Conservative leader's strategy in the early days was to treat the Murdochs and their staff the same as everyone else, according to Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator.

He recounted being told by a News International executive that Mr Cameron had been briefed on what he should say and do to please Mr Murdoch ahead of the pair's now infamously frosty first meeting.

The unnamed employee was staggered when Mr Cameron "wouldn't play ball," Mr Oborne told the inquiry into media ethics.

He added: "I thought good on him."

Mr Oborne, the author of several books on politics and the media, also claimed Fleet Street operated a Mafia-style code of silence in the face of strong evidence of phone hacking.

The press had "looked the other way" repeatedly on major stories involving itself and the government of the day, he added.

"In the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, many British newspapers remained silent on the issue of complicity in torture, British complicity in torture," he said.

Mr Oborne said there was a reluctance of one newspaper group to embarrass another and national newspapers adhered to a Mafia-style silence over hacking.

He said: "There was pretty well an omerta in Fleet Street surrounding the very strong evidence about phone hacking."

Mr Oborne criticised the close relationship between political journalists and politicians, particularly at the most senior levels.

Political reporting had become a matter of private deals with journalists and politicians "entering into a conspiracy against the readers", he said.

He said the MPs expenses "scam" was going on for years but was deliberately ignored by a negligent media.

The News International annual party conference receptions were extraordinary power events attended by the entire cabinet, he said.

He added: "I saw again and again journalists and politicians entering into a conspiracy against the readers.

"People who tried to report objectively and fairly were frozen out, were bullied, victimised, not given information.

"People who were part of the inner circle and developed social connections with the powerful political people were favoured."

Sir Harold Evans, editor of the Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981, described Mr Murdoch as "evil incarnate".

In 1981 there were a number of groups vying to take over the Sunday Times but Mr Murdoch's bid was favoured because "he was the man to take on the unions".

Sir Harold was involved in a management takeover bid and believed the Murdoch proposal would go before the monopolies commission but the deal went through in three days.

He told the inquiry that Mr Murdoch met former prime minister Margaret Thatcher ahead of the takeover, despite the businessman's denials that talks took place.

"There was a meeting on January 4 and Mrs Thatcher did a secret deal with Mr Murdoch," he said.

"It was ridiculous to suggest you can't go to the monopolies commission for the most important newspaper takeover in British history," he added.

"In three days a newspaper merger unprecedented in British history went through and it went through on falsehood and false figures."

Sir Harold feared Mr Murdoch's arrival in England would have a deteriorating effect on tabloid journalism.

The pair almost resorted to "fisticuffs" over a row about editorial content during a dinner at Sir Harold's home.

Relations became even more strained as they clashed over the stance of the paper on Mrs Thatcher's economic policies.

"Mr Murdoch was constantly sending for my staff without telling me and telling them what the paper should be," he added.

Mr Murdoch told one journalist his leader columns were too long and insisted he should be "attacking the Russians more".

Sir Harold said he eventually resigned because he was "absolutely disgusted, dismayed and demoralised by living in a vindictive, punitive atmosphere".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea