The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Pleased? Horrified! Horrified!

We knew that he couldn't have given it a minute's scrutiny. I put the figures in my book. He clearly hadn't because he missed out £400 million of revenue. Not at all pleased! Our whole hope of the management buyout committee, of Donald Cruickshank, Bernard Donoughue, Peter Wilshire, me and the other senior editors was that they would go to the Monopolies Commission, that we would have a chance to buy the paper on behalf of the workers.

The idea that he -- in three days, Mr Jay, a newspaper merger, unprecedented in British history, went through, and it went through on falsehood, on false figures! It's really the most extraordinary event. So the idea that somehow I was pleased! None of us was pleased. Right to the House of Commons debate. This is the kind of thing -- let me give you an example of the kind of thing that was happening. The House of Commons had a debate, and I'm sitting bound and gagged in the press gallery, all right? Before I get to the press gallery, the Press Association says, "What do you think of the takeover?" I said, "Well, we would much prefer our management buyout committee, but the editorial guarantees that Mr Murdoch has agreed with us are excellent", which was true.

When Mr Biffen came to use that statement, he dropped out the first reference to our management buyout group, he didn't say we still preferred the management buyout group, he just excised it completely.

Now, that's cheap politics, if you like, but it was certainly very offensive. Right until the deal was done, we expected the Monopolies Commission to intervene. In fact, the journalists on the Sunday Times had two meetings. The first one, they voted unanimously, pretty well, to ask for a writ of mandamus to go and argue the case before the Monopolies Commission. On the second vote, only 13 voted for it, because, why? They felt that if they went to the Monopolies Commission through the courts, which we were told we would succeed, because I've given you evidence here from Mr Gerhard Weiss(?) on the fact that the Sunday Times was a ... [break in transmission] that we might have lost the daily Times continued application. So out of the very best motives, the Sunday Times journalists voted to let the process continue, and they regret it to this day. They have formed what's called a gravediggers' club.

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