'Soul mates': Thatcher and Murdoch in cahoots over Wapping strike

Murdoch received favours from Thatcher
Murdoch received favours from Thatcher

By Georgie Keate

Rupert Murdoch asked Margaret Thatcher to provide extra police during the Wapping strike, Andrew Neil has revealed.

The former Sunday Times editor questioned whether Murdoch had "forgotten he was testifying under oath" when the media mogul claimed he had never asked politicians for anything.

"There was a time when Mr Murdoch's support for Mrs Thatcher paid business dividends," Mr Neil wrote in a statement to the Leveson inquiry.

"In late 1985, he had gone to Mrs Thatcher to get her assurance that enough police would be made available to allow him to get his papers out past the massed pickets at Wapping."

According to Neil, Murdoch and Blair also had an "understanding" where News Corp would enjoy "light-touch media regulation" if they supported New Labour in the 1997 election.

"New Labour in power did nothing to undermine or threaten Mr Murdoch's British media interests," Neil wrote. He cited the rejection of privacy laws and tougher cross-ownership rules as well as the News Corp bid for control of BSkyB.

"This was something Mr Murdoch's people lobbied hard for and they had unique and extensive access to the levers of power," he said.

Mr Neil concluded his statement by saying government's were disproportionately reliant on newspapers' support, remaining stuck in an "analogue time warp" and ignoring the "political weather" of blogs, social media and news channels. 

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