Blair's ex-press chief denies 'express deal' to win Murdoch empire's support for 1997 election
London, May 15 (ANI): Former British prime minister Tony Blair's former director of communications, Alastair Campbell, has denied there was ever any 'express deal' with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to win support from his papers before the 1997 general election.
Testifying for a second time before the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, Campbell said new Labour would have been 'crazy' not to try to win over the media mogul.
But when asked if there was any explicit deal, Campbell said 'absolutely not', Sky News reports.
Campbell said in the years running up to the election, party leaders made a determined effort to court the News Corp chairman.
"Murdoch was the single most important media figure. It would have been foolish on our part not to build some sort of relationship with him," he said.
According to the report, Campbell said the party's strategy was to try to win the support of sections of the press and not just the Murdoch empire, although with some newspapers like the Mail, he said all Labour could realistically do was to try to counter the worst of the paper's attacks.
"I think there was a political point of pragmatism that Tony Blair would have taken the view that it was not politically sensible. It is no secret that this was one of the few things that we argued about," the report quoted him, as saying.
"He was further of the view that whereas it was possible to fight and win elections and to govern with consensus with some of the media offside, to seek to do so with all of them offside and in kill mode is very difficult," Campbell added.
Campbell, who served as director of communications for Blair between 1997 and 2003 and once worked for the Daily Mirror, previously appeared at the inquiry in November.
He was questioned on the general activities of the British press and described some newspaper ethics as "frankly putrid". (ANI)
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