Rupert Murdoch arrived in London last Thursday with Joel Klein and a small coterie of advisers, lawyers and communications consultants to prepare to testify before the Leveson inquiry on press ethics. Unlike his last visit to London when he rolled up his shirtsleeves in the newsroom of The Sun, Mr. Murdoch will spend most of his time behind closed doors preparing for the questioning, according to one person close to the company who was not authorized to discuss Mr. Murdoch’s London plans publicly.
In recent months, Mr. Murdoch has been able to pivot his attention to other pieces of his empire, but over the last couple weeks he has been almost wholeheartedly committed to preparing for his London testimony, this person said.
The Independent reports that the Murdoch's are now following a "scorched earth" policy in Britain, settling scores with the political establishment:
The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was battling to save his political career last night after it was revealed that his office was secretly passing information to the Murdochs during their £7.5 billion bid to take over BSkyB.
Mr Hunt faced demands for his resignation after hundreds of pages of explosive emails, released by News Corp to the Leveson Inquiry, showed that his political advisers engaged in intimate and frequent briefing of the Murdochs’ chief lobbyist to help get the deal through – despite Mr Hunt’s claim to have acted impartially in his exercise of quasi-judicial powers.
One email quoted Mr Hunt saying “we’d get there in the end” and that he “shared” News Corp’s objective of taking over the broadcaster.
Another email, sent by News Corp’s lobbyist the day before Mr Hunt made a statement to Parliament on the bid, drew gasps when it was read out at the Leveson Inquiry: “Managed to get some infos on the plans for tomorrow (although absolutely illegal...!)”
In a day of dramatic revelations at the judicial inquiry, where James Murdoch gave evidence under oath, it also emerged that:
* Mr Murdoch did discuss News Corp’s bid for BSkyB with the Prime Minister David Cameron over Christmas dinner at the Oxfordshire home of Rebekah Brooks – contradicting Downing Street’s previous denials.
* Emails sent by James Murdoch’s lobbyist Fréd Michel show that Mr Hunt’s office would regularly update News Corp on the progress of its bid and how to get it past the regulators – sometimes speaking several times a day, and once even delaying the Culture Secretary’s trip to the ballet.
* The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, showed enthusiasm in supporting the bid. The emails suggest he linked his backing with a request to Murdoch to “smooth the way” for The Sun newspaper to support the Scottish Nationalists.
* News Corp personally threatened Mr Hunt that it would withdraw the bid if he did not hurry things along. “JH repeated he was definitely keen to see this through as quickly as possible.”
The emails directly contradicted assurances that Mr Hunt had given the House of Commons that he was acting as an independent adjudicator of the bid in a quasi-judicial role, Labour said.
The release of the emails and Mr Murdoch’s evidence also raises questions over the extent to which News Corp is now conducting a “scorched earth” policy over the continued controversy.
James Murdoch and his father Rupert are known to be furious at what they believe to be their “unfair” treatment at the hands of Government ministers and feel they have nothing to lose by shielding them. Rupert Murdoch gives evidence to Leveson today.
This scorched earth policy sure does have Klein's fingerprints on it, given the way he worked as chancellor in NYC.
It will be interesting to see who Rupert throws under the bus today.
I would assume Rupert will try and finish off David Cameron after James directly contradicted a statement made by Cameron's spokesman over the BSkyB bid.
It's an interesting strategy the Murdochs are pursuing here.
It's as if they're sending a message to politicians on this side of the ocean to watch what happens in Britain.
Turn on the Murdochs and they will turn on you and you will end up like Jeremy Hunt, scrambling to survive.
I would think this strategy is less about Britain at this point and more about warning off any pain in the ass pols here who might want to shine some light onto News Corp. - especially if the civil suits Mark Lewis says he will bring for hacking turn up anything untoward.
Gotta say one thing for Klein and the Murdochs.
They really are scrupulous in their unscrupulousness.