Nick Clegg was warned that Murdoch's papers would turn against Lib Dems if they opposed BSkyB bid

 

Nick Clegg was warned that if the Liberal Democrats opposed the Murdoch empire’s bid for BSkyB his newspapers would turn on the party.

Mr Clegg told the Leveson Inquiry he was given details of the threat by his senior parliamentary aide Norman Lamb.

“(I was told) that it would be good for the Lib Dems to be open to the bid, otherwise we would expect no favourable treatment from the Murdoch press", Mr Clegg told the inquiry.

“Norman was quite agitated about that,” Mr Clegg added. “As we had not received particularly favourable treatment in the first place I did not think it was a particularly credible threat.”

Lib Dem sources said afterwards that Mr Lamb had now written to the inquiry to set out details of the threat. However they suggested that the comments had not emanated from either of the Murdochs or Rebekah Brooks. Mr Lamb’s letter to the inquiry is likely to be released in due course.

Mr Clegg said the Press had “ignored or derided” him and the Liberal Democrats before they entered government.

At one dinner party on December 16 2009 that he attended with Mr Murdoch, Mrs Brooks and Sunday Times editor John Witherow, Mr Clegg said he was little more than “an observer”.

“I was at the very end of the table, where the children sit, so to speak,” he added.

The following March he had lunch with Sun editor Dominic Mohan, and a "brief" meeting with Mrs Brooks and Mr Murdoch lasting a maximum of 10 minutes.

The Lib Dem leader said his strong performance in the first televised general election leaders' debate had sparked a major shift in attitudes towards him and his party.

He said newspapers had gone from being "indifferent at best" to "lashing out" after his ratings spiked in the polls.

"If that is what you are used to in the Press it must come as a bit of a shock, I guess, when you suddenly have these people who you have been either ignoring or deriding suddenly doing well in a general election, you start lashing out a bit, and that is what happened," Mr Clegg said.

Turning to the way in which the bid for BSkyB was handled by the Government Mr Clegg said he sought assurances from then cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell that News Corporation's attempt to take full control of BSkyB would be handled properly if responsibility was shifted to Mr Hunt.

“I was ready to accept the reassurances, as I did, that the process would have to be conducted in a sort of objective and quasi-judicial manner and that in one sense Jeremy Hunt's personal views were as irrelevant as Vince Cable's were,” Mr Clegg said.

M4r was asked if he still thought that had been the case, despite the emergence of close contacts between News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel and Mr Hunt's office, and the Culture Secretary's backing of the bid in a private letter to David Cameron.

“To be fair, they don't actually materially add very much to, for instance, what was then already publicly known,” he said.

Mr Clegg confirmed that he had known the News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel for many years, before he became an MP in 2005.

But he told the inquiry he had never discussed the bid with him.

“Latterly our children go to the same school in south-west London so I very much knew him well before he was employed in his current capacity and knew him socially as well,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Since the general election 2010, my social contact with him is very, very infrequent indeed.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Graduate Print Producer / Account Executive

£18 - 25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Graduate Print Producer / Account Execut...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Digital Marketing Assistant - Wimbledon

£18000 - £19000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Digital Marketin...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works