You could describe yesterday’s evidence from Rupert Murdoch to the Leveson inquiry as the scene setter. He was asked about his relations with Margret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Some of it was extraordinary.
He claimed that when the Sun Newspaper switched its support from the Labour Party to the Conservatives in 2009, the then Labour prime minister Gordon Brown told him it was a declaration of war.
And that in turn the Labour government would go to war with the Murdoch empire. Last night Gordon Brown denied that such a conversation had happened.
But mostly the counsel for the inquiry was trying to build a picture of Murdoch as a man who for decades had used the political power of his newspapers to get what he wanted.
In response, Murdoch repeatedly denied that he manipulated politiciansto gain commercial advantage.
‘A myth’, he called it.
Today we will move to more recent events, and it could get more uncomfortable for the current generation of politicians.
A national newspaper this morning claims that Murdoch’s submissions to the inquiry reveal that the Prime Minister had five ‘secret meetings with Rupert Murdoch.’
There are lots of questions:
- What did the two men talk about?
- Did Murdoch lobby the prime minister to help him with a major TV business deal to take control of BSkyB?
- Did they discuss the hacking scandal?
- Did Andy Coulson (the former News of the World editor, then Downing Street communications chief) play a role as go between for the two men?
David Cameron has already said ‘we did too much cosying up to Rupert Murdoch.’
But if more details of that ‘cosying’ emerge today, it could be pretty embarrassing for a governing party that has already seen one government minister under pressure from Leveson this week.