Rupert Murdoch Faces Leveson Inquiry in U.K.

Denies using his papers to pressure politicians and discusses three decades of contacts with British Prime Ministers
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In testimony before the Leveson inquiry Wednesday in London, News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch once again expressed regrets over the role that his papers played in the voicemail-hacking scandal, but spent most of his time responding to questions about his relationship with prominent British politicians.

The questions and testimony detailed extensive contact between Murdoch and British prime ministers going back to a meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979 that continued through such Prime Ministers as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Murdoch contended, however, that "I never asked a prime minister for anything" and despite the extensive contacts noted "I don't know many politicians," he said, according to extensive quotes of the testimony published by the BBC.

He also stressed that he had not used his newspapers to advance his businesses. "I never let commercial interests enter consideration at elections," he said.

Murdoch did note, however, that he extracted as much as he could in terms of policy promises from Blair before endorsing him, the BBC reported.

On the hacking scandal, Murdoch criticized the use of hacking or private detectives, saying "it's a lazy way of reporters not doing their job properly" and repeated earlier pronouncements that he was not very involved in the running News of the World. "I never much interfered with the News of the World," he said. "I'm not disowning it, or saying it wasn't my responsibility, but I was always closer to the Sun."

He did defend the extensive tabloid coverage of celebrities, say "if we are going to have transparent democracy, let's have everything out," according to the BBC.

As Rupert Murdoch testified, the evidence presented on Tuesday during an appearance of his son James Murdoch before the inquiry continued to make political waves.

Prime Minister David Cameron faced tough questions in Parliament from opposition MPs over the government's handling of the BSkyB failed takeover.

While Cameron expressed his support for his Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Hunt's advisor Adam Smith resigned over seemingly incriminating emails and the opposition Labor Party continued to call for Hunt's resignation.

Rupert Murdoch will resume his testimony on Thursday before the Leveson inquiry, which was set up after the voicemail hacking scandal to look at media ethics and the relationship between the press and politicians.

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