Murdoch tells the everyday story of a lonely billionaire

Click to follow
The Independent Online
HE WAS a lonely older man in a foreign city, his marriage destroyed by years of overwork and too much travel. She, more than 30 years his junior, was also away from home.

There was dinner, there was a relationship and marriage, a love story set among the complex and high-flying worlds of corporate politics and global business.

He is Rupert Murdoch, the 68-year-old boss of The News Corporation, an Australian turned American, and, unusually, he has chosen to tell his story - to Vanity Fair magazine in the US. He decided to talk, apparently, after his recent divorce from second wife Anna and marriage to Wendy Deng, 31, sparked widespread interest in the private life of one of the world's most powerful media magnates. The interview is with William Shawcross, Mr Murdoch's biographer and a big fan of the great man.

"I was travelling a lot and was very obsessed with business and perhaps more than normally inconsiderate," he told the magazine. The children had left home and were running chunks of the Murdoch empire.

"We drifted apart to the point where things became very unhappy," said Mr Murdoch. "You go through a period of mixed emotions and self-doubt, but there it is." He was "a recently separated, lonely man" when he met Ms Deng in London last year. He asked her out to dinner, and then "talked her into staying in London" a little longer. Given that she was a News Corp employee, that probably wasn't too difficult. The affair, he said, did not start until after his marriage was over. And now they are married, her work is over. "Wendi is busy working on decorating the new apartment," he told Vanity Fair. "She's a bit frustrated by it - she'd love to work ... but the fact is she cannot do that and travel with me."

Mr Murdoch seemed uncomfortable with questions about The Sun, which, with the News of the World, The Times, The Sunday Times and part-ownership of BSkyB is the core of his British Empire. "There was a period when it savaged people. But it depends on what you mean by savaging people. There's nothing wrong with hitting your adversaries hard," he said. Didn't people deserve a private life? "Not really. It depends on who you are and what position you've got."

Curiously, the British press had been "pretty kind" to him, he said, perhaps because he owns a large chunk of it.