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

A fair summary would -- I think the sequence of events was as follows. It became clear, particularly if I can mention the -- when political pressure was brought on me to support the government, even though my own editorial board thought it was wrong. And of course therefore I continued with our policy, Mr Murdoch made it clear to me, and you have documents saying which he's rebuking me for not doing what he wants in political terms, and I can give you many instances of this.

It's wrong to ascribe it to the economic situation. It's correct to say that Britain's economic situation was worrying the government. I did get this through his mouthpiece, Mr Gerald Long, the ridiculous statement that I shouldn't publish the figures on the recession because Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Chancellor, said the recession was over. It went down by 6.5 per cent. It continued to go down for the whole year. So Sir Geoffrey's prediction that the recession was over was wrong.

This gets me a letter from Mr Murdoch's mouthpiece, Gerald, two pages long: "How dare you say the recession is continuing when the government says it has ended?" Those figures were from the Central Statistical Office.

That's just one of the many, many instances, I'd like to give you some more, of the gradual distancing of Mr Murdoch and me due because I would not support the policies of the government come what may. We supported them rather proudly. And this led to him doing this wonderful imitation to you which I hope somebody's got a copyright of it, portraying me as Uriah Heep, coming in and saying, "I don't have an opinion, Mr Murdoch, can you tell me what to say?"

That's the funniest thing I've heard in a hundred years because he was continually talking to me. I describe in "Good Times, Bad Times" I had the effrontery to call the Nobel prizewinner in economics, Mr James Tobin, and say, "Write an article looking at the British economic condition". At the same time I called up the government's economic advisor Professor Hague and said, "After Mr Tobin, will you please reply to this?"

That night I was taking Mr Rupert Murdoch to my home to meet my wife and have dinner. By the time we reached the dinner, it was almost fisticuffs. "Why did you publish that stuff, Tobin?" I said, "He's a Nobel prize winner, it's an interesting view on economics". "Intellectual bullshit". I said "Just a minute, what do you know," I said, "about economics? You said inflation would be down". "No, no, no, no get off" -- this went on. I mean, that's on the policy side.

The recession, the -- a vehement dislike of any criticism of the monetary policy of the day, which was leading to massive unemployment, and then, of course, there was -- if I might continue -- in the fall of this year, Mr Murdoch was continually sending for my staff without telling me and telling them what the paper should be. He sent for the elderly and academic Mr Hickey(?), who went in tremulously, to be told by Mr Murdoch, "Your leaders are too long, too complex. You should be attacking the Russians more."

I had in my office the foreign editor, he was trembling. He said, "Do we have to change our policy?" I said, "No, we stick to our policy'.

Perhaps the most particular demonstration of the campaign against me and the conditions in which we were trying to produce a good newspaper was the Ruda affair. What happened was there was a dinner the night before at a restaurant which I attended with Mr Murdoch and he had his pals around with him and they were all saying, "The trouble with the Times is it's too serious, the editorials are too long, what you need is bingo."

I listened to this offensive evening and the next day Mr Murdoch sent for me and he had the pages of the paper open, with his biro pencil gouging through the business news. "Sport, didn't I tell you sport, sport, sport, where are the four pages of sport?" I said, "Just a second". He was excising the unit trust prices and the business news. "You've always told me the business news is important and I agreed." "Never mind that, sport!" I said, "Listen, if I'd given four pages to sport regularly, we wouldn't have space for business news, and you want the business news" -- "I want the business news for the revenues. Business advertising. You worry about editorial, I'll worry about the revenues. Sport, sport!" I turned to the advertising director. I said, "Mr Ruda, you may remind Mr Murdoch of his pressure to have more business news to get more advertising".

I looked at Mr Ruda -- and this is a scene enacted a million times in Mr Murdoch's company. "Mr Ruda, remember you were pressing me to put more business news in?" Mr Ruda has suffered another bought of selective amnesia. That thing happened all the time.

The most dramatic example again of interference with the content of the paper, I had a reporter in Poland who was doing fantastic work when the coup took place. He was sending little messages out in people's shoes. So we gradually strung together a marvellous narrative of Poland, what had happened in the insurrection with Lech Walesa, a wonderful thing, and said to Mr Murdoch on the way out, "We should put this on the radio, it's a fantastic two pages". Next morning, the next morning he sent for me. He had the Sunday Times, marvellous narrative by Roger Boyes, two pages, and he turned to the Sun newspaper, which had this much on Poland: "That's all you need on Poland."

So he's sending for my staff behind my back, he said to Frank Johnson the columnist, Frank Johnson, going on about these kind of things, and Frank Johnson said, "I'd rather not be talking to you when the editor's not here", and Frank Johnson told me Mr Murdoch said, "That's why I am talking to you, because the editor's not here."

So these were the things that -- it's not the general economy, not even the economy of Times Newspapers. It is his determination to impose his will and destroy the editorial guarantees that he'd given.

Whilst I'm on this theme, it's really after all these years of living with this nonsense, the promise of the budget, the five guarantees, every single one of the five guarantees he promised were broken. The budget never materialised. For 12 months I'm trying to get a budget and Gerald Long, the managing director, said, "Rupert's very funny about figures, he doesn't like anybody to see them", and in our board meetings they were a parody of what board meetings at Times Newspapers were. We never had any figures, we were flying blind, we had no idea what was going on. "Oh, Rupert likes to keep that to himself." The accountants were told don't give any figures to anybody. We never got a budget in the entire 12 months.

And the final straw for me, and the final straw, by the way, for the journalists who were getting -- morale was getting lower and lower and lower, I'd just asked them for 25 redundancies, which was what management said. Without meeting me or telling me, they went and asked for 40 redundancies. Can you imagine the effect on morale?

At the same time, it was learned that the titles of the newspapers, the Times and the Sunday Times, were being moved to News International by a board decision at which only two of the nine directors were present, excluding the editors of the Times and the Sunday Times. It was an illegal move without the permission of the editorial directors, the minutes were falsified, there was no quorum.

That's the kind of thing which I had to protest and I did and I was told, when I wrote my protest, Mr Long would not give it to Mr Murdoch. He said "Take it away, you will withdraw this letter". I said "I will not withdraw this letter", and the editor of the Sunday Times supported me, and in the end the national directors repudiated this decision by stealth to move the titles.

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