Indian court issues warrant for Murdoch

An Indian court has issued a warrant for the arrest of the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, after a guest on a talk show on his pan- Asian Star TV network made derogatory remarks about Mahatma Gandhi, writes Rhys Williams.

The warrant against Mr Murdoch was issued after a complaint from Tushar Gandhi, the grandson of the Indian independence hero, who heard his grandfather described as a "bastard bania [trader]" by a gay rights activist on the Nikki Tonight show in May.

In addition, Mr Gandhi has threatened to sue Star TV, the show's producers, and the other participants for pounds 10m. A magistrate stated in the warrant: "There is a prima facie case of insult and defamation. Issue bailable warrant against accused No. 1 Rupert Murdoch in the sum of 5,000 rupees [pounds 115]."

Lawyers said the bailable warrant meant that Mr Murdoch or his representative would have to post bail of 5,000 rupees to guarantee his presence in court at a later date.

Tushar Gandhi's lawyer, MP Vashi, said the magistrate had also issued orders for police to search the Star TV offices in Bombay and to seize the relevant video-cassette.

India's National Emblems Act confers the status of national hero on Mahatma Gandhi and slandering the apostle of non- violence is an offence. After the comments were broadcast, Star TV cancelled the programme and apologised for "having hurt our Indian viewers' sentiments".