Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Spin doctor Alastair Campbell denies No 10 deal with Rupert Murdoch on Iraq

The content of key phone calls between Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair in the run-up to the Iraq War could not be recalled by Alastair Campbell at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.

Downing Street's former director of communications, who kept a meticulous diary which chronicled the Blair years in Downing Street, said he “could not remember” specific details about three calls Mr Blair made to Mr Murdoch before the US-led war against Saddam Hussein in 2003.

He said the idea that the then Prime Minister could not have pursued his policy in Iraq without the backing of Mr Murdoch and The Sun was “complete nonsense”, and dismissed the significance of the calls. Most non-Murdoch papers were against the war and so Downing Street would have “appreciated the support”, he added.

Appearing before the Inquiry for the second time, Mr Campbell claimed Labour did not cut a “deal” with Mr Murdoch in the run-up to their 1997 election win. A former political editor of the Daily Mirror, he was hired by New Labour in 1994.

Meanwhile, Rebekah Brooks, News International's former chief executive, will to be told today whether she will face criminal charges over the scandal.

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