Major: Murdoch threatened me in 1997

June 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM
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LONDON, June 12 (UPI) -- Former Prime Minister John Major said Tuesday Rupert Murdoch used threats to try to influence foreign policy.

Major testified before the Leveson Commission, which is investigating the phone-hacking scandal, The Guardian reported. He said Murdoch approached him in 1997, shortly before the election, to demand a change in his European policy.

"I would like you to change your policy and if you don't change your policy my organization cannot support you," Major quoted the press baron as saying.

Murdoch's British holdings ranged from the venerable Times of London to tabloids like The Sun, which Major called Murdoch's "house pet," and the now-defunct News of the World. Major's Conservative Party lost the 1997 election, ushering in more than a decade of Labor government.

Major said Murdoch's influence is "an unattractive facet in British national life."

The former prime minister said some Murdoch publications "have lowered the general quality of the British media."

While Major accused his successor, Tony Blair, of introducing "spin doctors" to the prime minister's office, he said he himself was much too sensitive about media coverage.

Ed Miliband, the current leader of the Labor Party, also testified Tuesday, saying he believes Murdoch owns too big a share of the British media, The Independent said.

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