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
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'