Michael Gove praises 'force of nature' Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch is a "force of nature" and a "phenomenon", a cabinet minister said today as he defended the media mogul's record in British journalism.

Education Secretary Michael Gove, a former Times journalist, said he thought Mr Murdoch was a "great man" who had saved the UK newspaper industry when he moved the Times to Wapping.



He claimed he knew nothing about phone hacking, even when he was a news editor for 18 months at the newspaper, telling a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester that he was as "surprised as anyone" about allegations at the News of the World.



Mr Gove admitted that he was not speaking from the "majority position" but insisted that the practice of breaking into private voicemails "breaches every journalistic rule in the book".



"I am a great admirer of Rupert Murdoch," he told activists.



"I think he is a force of nature and a phenomenon. I think he is a great man. I know that at the moment, for obvious reasons, there are aspects of what happened at News International that are under the spotlight. What is alleged to have happened, it goes without saying, breaches every journalistic rule in the book.



"However, I don't think you can look at this episode and all the questions that it has raised, without looking into the context of all of Rupert Murdoch's career.



"The Times and The Sunday Times wouldn't exist if he hadn't saved them. Newspapers wouldn't have survived in the way that they have done if he hadn't taken the decision to take The Times to Wapping.



"The investment he has made in quality journalism has meant that as a result we have a flourishing collection of broadsheets and we also have vigourous tabloids which hold people like me to account.



"It is also the case that his investment in Sky, it's not my first love but it is worth acknowledging, has helped to revive Premier League football in this country and it has also meant that there is a greater degree of pluralism and choice in broadcasting.



"I know that (to speak up) for Rupert Murdoch is to be like a Tory in Scotland in the 1980s, not a majority position. But, I think that any judgment of what he has contributed to this country has to take into account those things."



He said Mr Murdoch devoted a disproportionate amount of time and energy to his UK stable of newspapers, adding that he "loved" journalism.



But in a wide-ranging interview with Channel 4's political editor Gary Gibbon, Mr Gove admitted he regularly met the chairman of News Corporation.



He added: "I was I think as surprised as anyone by the revelations around phone-hacking. I was a news editor, not a particularly successful one, for 18 months and so I was there at the heart of the newsroom at the Times. But I was completely unaware of this practice, how it could be executed or what it amounted to until the stories that started being written in the course of the last year or two."







PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington
tv
Voices
Almost one in 10 of British soliders fall victim to serious psychiatric side-effects after being prescribed Lariam.
CHRISTMAS APPEALThis is how one charity is using that 'waste' to feed Britain's war heroes
Life and Style
Facebook has apologised after a new feature inviting users to review a collection of their 2014 highlights caused some to be confronted with pictures of their recently deceased family members and friends
tech
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
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?