News Corp 'threats' to Lib Dems
Vince Cable has said the Liberal Democrats faced “veiled threats” from News International if the BSkyB takeover was not given the green light.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, the Business Secretary said he believed the threats about Liberal Democrats' depictions in News International newspapers had come after a conversation with News Corporation lobbyist Frederic Michel.
He also hit out at Mr Michel's “systematic attempt to politicise the process” of adjudicating on the takeover. He confirmed he had been told about this by Liberal Democrat colleagues who had spoken with Mr Michel.
“I’m trying to explain the context in which I made my own comments [to undercover Telegraph journalists]… and what it was that had made me seriously disturbed.”
Dr Cable explained he was in an “emotional frame of mind” when he told two undercover Daily Telegraph reporters he was “waging war” on the Murdoch empire.
“There was a near riot taking place outside my constituency office… in order to prevent the disorder getting out of control, I invited in some of the protestors into my office. We had a very long conversation… I was struggling to keep my temper in this situation…
“I was in an extremely tense and emotional frame of mind. And the two women who I thought were constituents… I did offload onto them a lot of pent-up feeling, to just about the BSkyB case that I was dealing with but my colleagues in Government… in language I wouldn’t usually use.”
Also appearing at Leveson today was Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who said that the media had "far greater" power than Parliament does.
Mr Clarke urged the inquiry not to curtail free speech, but argued the power of the media “has grown, is excessive, and ought to be diminished”.