Leveson inquiry: Tony Blair to be grilled over ties with Murdoch

Written on:May 28, 2023
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All eyes on Blair! (Image courtesy: Giuseppe Nicoloro)

Tony Blair’s links with Rupert Murdoch and his media empire during his tenure as British prime minister will come under investigation when the Labour politician appears at the Leveson inquiry today.

The inquiry has so far stressed on the close ties between Murdoch’s empire and serving ministers, helping opposition leader Ed Miliband consolidate his position with attacks on David Cameron.

However, questioning Blair could foil Miliband’s attempt to portray Labour as a party above courting media tycoons. Blair will be the first of several high profile politicians due to appear at the Leveson inquiry this week.

Lord Mandelson has previously denied the claims of a “pact” between Blair and Murdoch at the inquiry. It was “arguably the case… that personal relationships between Blair, (Gordon) Brown and Rupert Murdoch became closer than was wise”, said Mandelson.

Blair’s relationship with Murdoch first came into public view when he travelled to Hayman Island in Australia to address News Corp executives in 1995. It was part of a New Labour strategy to reach out to newspapers that had unfavourably portrayed previous leaders Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock.

In April, Alistair Campbell, Blair’s former press secretary, also denied any kind of deal prior to the 1997 general election. ”I never was witness to, and I do not believe there was ever a discussion that said, ‘now, Tony, if you do this and do this my papers will back you’ - it just never happened”, he told the inquiry.

Blair kicks off an important week at the Leveson Inquiry, which is also due to see Education Secretary Michael Gove, Home Secretary Theresa May, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Jaremy Hunt appear before Lord Justice Leveson.

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