14 Jun 2012

Former British PM recounts warning by Murdoch

11:19 pm on 14 June 2012

Former British Prime Minister John Major has told the Leveson inquiry into press standards that Rupert Murdoch warned him to change his policies on Europe or lose the support of his newspapers.

Sir John recalled the exchange from a private meeting in 1997, which he said he had not spoken about before.

Later that year, the Conservative party lost power to Labour, with the Sun backing Tony Blair. The inquiry is focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians, the BBC reports.

Sir John recalled a dinner with Mr Murdoch on 2 February 1997, during which he said Mr Murdoch asked him to change his policy on Europe, warning that his newspapers would not support him if he failed to do so.

"Mr Murdoch said he really didn't like our European policies," he told Lord Justice Leveson. "This was no surprise to me."

"He wished me to change our European policies. If we couldn't change our European policies his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government."

But Sir John, who told the inquiry he met Mr Murdoch three times in seven years, said: "There was no question of me changing our policies."

Labour Party leader Ed Milliband has also appeared at the Leveson inquiry where he called for a cap on media ownership.

News International owns 34% of the British media market.