Stephen Glover on The Press

Non-interfering, anti-celebrity – is Murdoch the Dalai Lama of media?

When Rebekah Wade and Andrew Neil are at odds, which of them should one support? Why, the one who is telling the truth, of course.

Two weeks ago, Wade, who edits The Sun, appeared before the House of Lords communications committee. She painted a picture of Rupert Murdoch, the paper's proprietor, as having no more editorial influence than the doorman. When asked about her relationship with Murdoch, and his role in determining which political party The Sun should support, she replied: "It just doesn't happen." She conceded that he chose the paper's editor, but that was about as far as his involvement went.

Neil, a former editor of The Sunday Times, a paper also controlled by Murdoch, has subsequently given a dramatically different account. In evidence before the same committee last week, he said that he "did not recognise [Wade's] description of how The Sun operates". When he was at the Sunday paper, "the editor of The Sun would get daily telephone calls" from Murdoch.

How can two lovers of the truth give such differing testimonies? One possible explanation is that Murdoch's global media empire has expanded since Neil left The Sunday Times in 1994, so The Sun may loom less large in his calculations than it once did. Moreover, time has not stood still, and at 76 the great proprietor may not be quite as hands-on or hyperactive as he was 15 years ago.

Alas, this will not really do, as there is another recent piece of evidence that contradicts Wade's version of events, and supports Neil's. And who might have supplied this? The chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp, aka Rupert Murdoch.

On 17 September last year, the very same Lords communications committee interviewed him in New York. Murdoch said that "the law" prevents him from instructing the editors of The Times and The Sunday Times, and that he "nominates" their editors.

He explained, however, that he was a "traditional proprietor" so far as The Sun is concerned. According to the meeting's minutes, "He exercises editorial control on major issues – like which party to back in a general election, or policy on Europe."

Why should Wade have given evidence to the same committee that was at odds with what her own proprietor had told it only four months previously? It is very puzzling. I suppose she might have been poorly briefed, and was unaware of exactly what Murdoch had said, and so peddled the old canard that he does not interfere. Or was she perfectly aware, and had decided to flex her muscles by pretending that she runs the show?

Whatever the explanation, Neil's account was evidently much nearer the mark. It is also difficult to believe Wade's contention to the same committee that Rupert Murdoch "is often dismayed by the amount of celebrity coverage in my newspaper". If so, he must be the most terrible old hypocrite alive, since The Sun has thrived on celebrities from the moment he bought it. In presenting Rupert Murdoch as the Dalai Lama of the newspaper world, Rebekah is, I fear, pulling the wool.

Last week, I noted that as chief executive of The Spectator, Andrew Neil is presiding at two events marking the magazine's 180th anniversary, whereas its editor, Matthew d'Ancona, is nowhere to be seen. Some people have said that because d'Ancona wisely does not drink alcohol, he could hardly be expected to play host at a "whisky and cigar dinner" or at a "whisky tasting", as Neil is doing.

I'm not convinced. By way of a bet, I recently gave up drinking for two months, and endured the quaffing of others at parties and dinners. Moreover, there are non-drinking anniversary events at which d'Ancona could preside, and other soirées might have been invented. Why not an evening of theology, a subject at which he excels?

No, I stick to my guns. Andrew Neil is hogging the limelight at the expense of his editor.

Sleaze is not the preserve of the Conservative Party

The Guardian's role in bringing down Jonathan Aitken, right, and monstering the Major government for sleaze, is widely recognised. Less well-known is its unearthing of New Labour financial shenanigans.

The Guardian revealed Peter Mandelson's suspect mortgage, over which he was forced to resign. And, although the blogger Guido Fawkes is justifiably claiming some credit, the newspaper did for Peter Hain by running a series of pieces earlier this month about his undeclared donations. Indeed, there was a period of several days when it seemed that the story would not gain traction, but the paper persisted.

I'm not sure what this tells us. In some ways, The Guardian seems a bit off-colour, a consequence, perhaps, of the belief of its editor, Alan Rusbridger, that the future of newspapers lies on the net rather than with the printed word. Still, it remains adept at bringing down ministers who have erred financially.

A revelation? Not if you follow this column ...

It is always tedious when columnists try to score off their rivals, but an exception might be made in the case of my esteemed colleague, ~Professor Roy Campbell-Greenslade.

Last week, the Prof gave evidence to the House of Lords communications committee, mentioned elsewhere on this page. He "revealed" (his word) that there is a pact between the Telegraph and Mail groups not to write about each other. This was written up by Media Guardian, for which Roy writes, as though he had just come down from Mount Sinai.

Let me point out that as long ago as 27 June 2005, I wrote here at length about "some sort of concordat between the Telegraph and Mail groups", and returned to the subject on 20 February 2006.

Far from being the "revelation" that Roy proclaims, it is a fact well-known to every baby being wheeled down the Old Kent Road.

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £100,000: SThree: If you would like to work fo...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission £100k +: SThree: Trainee Recru...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities