British premier denies trading favours for electoral support


Faced with questions about his relationships with two key figures in News Corp's U.K. newspaper scandal, British Prime Minister David Cameron Thursday rejected suggestions that he traded favored treatment for electoral support by Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, terming the allegations of a conspiracy "specious" and "unjustified".


In his testimony in Britain's long-running inquiry into media standards, Cameron claimed he had no recollection of more than 20 key events and conversations related to his government's ties with the Murdoch empire.

In an appearance before a judge-led public inquiry examining British press ethics, the prime minister was grilled about his relationship with Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit. He was also quizzed about a text message that Brooks sent saying she was "rooting" for him ahead of a key speech because "we're definitely in this together".

Explaining the message, Cameron told Lord Justice Leveson: "The Sun wanted to make sure it was helping the Conservative Party put its best foot forward with the policies we were announcing, the speech I was making. That's what that means."

"We were friends. But professionally, me as leader of the Conservative Party, her in newspapers, we were going to be pushing the same political agenda."

He dismissed the idea that there had been what he called "a nod and a wink" covert arrangement with Murdoch in return for a decision to switch editorial support to Cameron's Conservatives in 2009, ahead of a general election.

In the more than five hours of questioning at the Leveson judicial inquiry, the prime minister repeatedly said he couldn't remember or recall discussions he had had over phone hacking, the BSkyB takeover or the appointment of Andy Coulson as his communications chief.

Coulson resigned as editor of News Corp.'s now-shut News of the World tabloid in 2007 due to the phone-hacking scandal, and was hired by Cameron as communications chief of the Conservative Party. Coulson later served in the same role at No. 10 Downing Street after Cameron became prime minister. He resigned last year as the News Corp. scandal mounted.

Brooks faces criminal charges related to the scandal over illegal reporting tactics at the company's British papers.

Source: Britain News.Net