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.”

Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn