Rupert Murdoch did not ask Margaret Thatcher to bend the rules to allow him to buy the Times of London in 1981, one of his lawyers said on Monday, dismissing theories of a deal as “science fiction”.
Lawyer Rhodri Davies said the media mogul had nothing to hide and rejected as baseless an accusation that Murdoch was suffering from “selective amnesia” when he said he had forgotten a 1981 meeting with the former prime minister. “The suggestion that he must be lying is not an argument or a theory based on evidence, but a conviction,” Davies told an inquiry into press ethics, whose lead prosecutor Robert Jay made the accusation last week. “In the absence of any such evidence, Mr Jay opened up instead what one can only describe, with respect, as a science fiction theory, that deals were done not expressly but through implied messages.” Murdoch’s acquisition of the Times is considered by some critics as a paradigm of how he exercises political influence. He has also been allegedly promising the support of his tabloids for politicians in exchange for their supporting his often controversial business deals.
Last month, documents handed to the inquiry showed that a British government minister had given highly sensitive information to News Corp executives to help the company’s intended $12 billion (7 billion pounds) acquisition of BSkyB.