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

Just before the 1997 election, it was suggested to me that I ought to try and make some effort to get closer to the Murdoch press and I agreed that I would invite Mr Murdoch to dinner. And I did invite him to dinner. We had a dinner in February 1997.

The dinner would have contained the usual amount of political gossip that these occasions tend to have. Then, in the dinner, it became apparent in discussion that Mr Murdoch said that he really didn't like our European policies -- this was no surprise to me, that he didn't like our European policies -- and 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.

As I recall, he used the word "we" when referring to his newspapers. He didn't make the usual nod towards editorial independence.

There was no question of me changing our policies. We had had a great deal of this from Sir James Goldsmith, who had set up a political party, the Referendum Party, because he disagreed with our policy policies and wished to have a referendum on leaving the European Union. So Mr Murdoch and I did not pursue that matter.

My feeling -- and he did not say this. My feeling was that what he was edging towards was a referendum on leaving the European Union, but I make clear: that was where I thought he was going by what he said. We.did not actually get there. I made it pretty clear that we were not going to change our European policies. I said I think our policies are right, I think it's in the interests of the country, and we moved on to other matters.

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