James Murdoch told the Leveson Inquiry that he informed David Cameron in advance that The Sun would endorse the Conservatives for the 2010 general election.
Robert Jay QC questioned Murdoch on whether Cameron seemed happy to receive the news, with Murdoch acknowledging that “it seemed that way.”
It was also revealed that Murdoch tried several times to arrange to meet Vince Cable while he was business secretary regarding the BskyB bid. Murdoch said passionately that Cable showed an “acute bias” towards the bid.
Murdoch also claimed that he didn’t hold or remember holding any discussions regarding the BskyB bid with newly-elected Cameron while staying at Chequers with his family. He did say that there was some discussion about the BSkyB bid while at Rebekah Brooks home in 2010 after Cable was removed from scrutinising the bill.
Lord Leveson asked the former News Corp executive if he believed that he had greater access to the ‘British political establishment’ because of the Murdoch media empire.
Murdoch explained that he didn’t believe that and that he certainly had no personal experience of it. It was also suggested that the balance of power lay with the Murdochs, rather than with the politicians.
James Murdoch stated that the “very old-fashioned view of big media proprietors being able to dominate the landscape - I don’t think that exists anymore”.
Jay was greeted with laughter from the assembly when he responded that he was “not so concerned with reality because one could never prove that because a newspaper supports a political party, that has a causative effect...”
The laughter was soon stopped by Lord Leveson who informed those present that he was very much concerned with finding the reality.
The questions asked by Lord Leveson and Robert Jay QC aim to discover whether James Murdoch had greater access to the ear of politicians and policy makers because of the Murdoch press interests.
The inquiry has taken a break for lunch and will resume shortly, with more news to follow.
UPDATE: The inquiry has been focusing attention on Murdoch’s relationship with culture secretary Jeremy Hunt after it emerged that he had been in constant contact with the executive during consideration of the BSkyB bid.
Hunt’s close relationship with News Corp was revealed through a series of emails presented to the inquiry by Frederic Michel, the head of public affairs at the company. The emails suggest that the culture secretary had kept News Corporation in the loop about the progress of the bid since replacing Vince Cable and had both met James Murdoch on several occasions as well as speaking to him on the phone.
Murdoch was at pains to stress that in his view Hunt had not disclosed anything confidential to News Corp and that the company’s lobbyists had done nothing wrong in relation to the bid