Cameron denies deals with Murdoch

Xinhua, June 15, 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday told an inquiry on press ethics that he had made no agreements with the media empire of Rupert Murdoch to carry out favorable media policies in exchange for support.

British Prime Minister David Cameron [File photo]

British Prime Minister David Cameron [File photo] 

Cameron said that the idea of "overt or covert" deals was "nonsense" and there had been no "nod and a wink" arrangement with Murdoch's News Corporation (NC), which owns significant parts of the British press through its News International (NI) company.

Cameron was questioned in a hearing that lasted six hours.

Cameron also stood by his Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who had been criticized for being partisan over the NC bid to extend its 39 percents take in Britain's principal satellite broadcaster and news deliverer BSkyB to 100 percent.

Hunt had final say over whether the bid was in the public interest, and revelations of close contact between his personal adviser and NC led to the special adviser's resignation. The NC bid for total control of BSkyB was withdrawn in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal last July.

Cameron said Hunt was the right man for the task, "If anyone had told me that Jeremy Hunt couldn't do the job, I wouldn't have given him the job."

Cameron's evidence also covered his appointment of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson in July 2007 first as Conservative Party communications director and after becoming prime minister as his director of communications.

Coulson had resigned as editor of News of the World in January 2007 after revelations that its royal correspondent had hacked Prince William's phone.

Cameron defended his appointment of Coulson, "I thought it was legitimate to give him a second chance. If someone had given me evidence that he knew about phone hacking I wouldn't have employed him and I would have fired him."

The Leveson Inquiry has heard evidence from former Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair, and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

At the end of the inquiry, a report recommending changes to the regulation of the British press will be produced, which will form the basis of government debate over future policies, if any.