Relations between Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch 'collapse' after claims of meetings with ex-wife Wendi Deng

Newspaper claims Blair and Deng stayed overnight at Murdoch’s mansion in California on two occasions without his knowledge

Whitehall Editor

To a tabloid connoisseur the story had everything: celebrities, money, politics and more than a whiff of scandal.

It was, without doubt, the kind of tale that Rupert Murdoch, the famously hands-on proprietor of The Sun, would have wanted his newspaper to have had first. Apart from one small problem: the story was about him.

Today, what had been political gossip for some time, was splashed across the front page of The Mail on Sunday under the headline “Murdoch’s feud with Blair over Wendi”.

The paper reported that relations between Mr Murdoch and Tony Blair had “collapsed” because of Mr Blair’s close friendship with the media mogul’s ex-wife, Wendi Deng.

It claimed Mr Blair and Ms Deng had stayed overnight at Mr Murdoch’s mansion in California on two occasions in without his knowledge. And it added that Mr Blair and Ms Deng had “multiple encounters” of which Mr Murdoch was unaware in both London and New York.

While the paper stressed it was making “no suggestion” of any impropriety by the former prime minister or Ms Deng it nevertheless quoted a friend of Mr Murdoch saying “Rupert Murdoch will have nothing more to do with Tony Blair. Not ever.”

If so, it would be a remarkable end to a remarkable friendship which, over the years, has had very real impact on the political process in the UK. And oddly one that also started with sexual innuendo. When Mr Blair shrugged off criticism from his own party and travelled halfway around the world to woo Murdoch at a News Corporation summit in Australia in July 1995 the magnate introduced Mr Blair to his staff with the words: “If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation.”

He then added: “If that flirtation is ever consummated, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines – very carefully.”

Over the years, much to the unease of many of the left, they were more passionate than that. The Sun backed Labour in every election campaign Mr Blair fought – and while not always uncritical – his papers were none the less supportive of the New Labour project. Mr Blair claimed, to some incredulity, when he gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry that when he was Prime Minister the relationship was always “professional” rather than a personal friendship. “It was a relationship about power,” he said. “I find these relationships are not personal; they are working [relationships], to me.” But he went on to add: “After I left office I got to know him. Now it’s different. It’s not the same.” He also admitted he had become godfather to Murdoch and Deng’s daughter Grace in 2010.

Mr Blair’s friends told The Mail on Sunday that the relationship between him and Ms Deng was “entirely innocent and above board”. Mr Blair’s office has also categorically denied an affair. A spokesman for Mr Murdoch declined to comment, as did Ms Deng’s spokesman.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?