Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday admitted that he got very close to the people in the Murdoch media group and met Rupert Murdoch personally to seek his newspapers’ support for the Conservative Party at the 2010 general elections that propelled him to power.
But he insisted that there were no "overt" or "covert" deals and denied that his government did any favours for the Murdoch group in exchange for its support for his party.
Giving evidence before the ongoing inquiry into media standards and the relationship between politicians and the press, set up in the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal, Mr. Cameron stuck to what has become the standard script for politicians who have appeared before Lord Justice Leveson, the judge leading the inquiry: yes, I got close to the Murdoch people; yes, my party craved his newspapers’ backing; but no there was no quid pro quo.
Mr. Cameron described as "complete nonsense" former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s claim that there was a "deal" between the Tories and Mr. Murdoch over the latter’s £8 billion controversial bid to acquire full control of Sky television.
In the event the bid fell through in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
During his day-long testimony, Mr. Cameron was closely questioned over his proximity to key figures in the Murdoch group, including Mr. Murdoch’s son James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International. The inquiry heard that Ms. Brooks wrote to Mr. Cameron saying she was "rooting" for him after The Sun switched support from Labour to the Tories.
"I am so rooting for you tomorrow, not just as a personal friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together," she wrote.
In her evidence to the inquiry recently, Ms. Brooks recounted how Mr. Cameron used to sign off his messages with "Lol" (lots of love) until she told him it meant "laughing out loud").
Mr. Cameron acknowledged he got close to Ms. Brooks (previously Rebekah Wade) after her marriage to his old friend Charlie Brooks who also happened to be his neighbour in his Oxford parliamentary constituency, but insisted that there had been "no overt deals", "no covert deals" and "no nods and winks" with the Murdoch group.