Some MPs have told "total lies", says Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch denies he is going to sell up and hits out at Gordon Brown in his first interview since the

Rupert Murdoch has given his first significant public comments since the scandal engulfing News Corporation broke. Speaking to his own newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, he vigorously defended the company's actions and hit back at accusations against him.

He said that News Corp had handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible," making just "minor mistakes." This is despite claims by the Metropolitan Police that News International hindered its investigation.

Murdoch also addressed his appearance in front of a Commons select committee next Tuesday. He agreed to attend yesterday after initially declining. He said he wanted to:

[Address] some of the things that have been said in parliament, some of which are total lies. We think it's important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public......I felt that it's best just to be as transparent as possible.

He singled out former prime minister Gordon Brown, who has accused reporters at News International of accessing his son's medical records and gave a rabble-rousing speech attacking Murdoch and News International in the Commons on Wednesday, saying: "He got it entirely wrong".

Murdoch added that "the Browns were always friends of ours" until the Sun withdrew its support for Labour before the last election. His biographer, Michael Wolff, tweeted that in the interview "Murdoch seemed genuinely distressed about Brown not liking him anymore".

In the last few days, speculation has been rife that Murdoch might sell off his British newspaper titles to prevent contagion in his empire. Murdoch, who is famously committed to the newspaper business, responded to these rumous:

Pure rubbish. Pure and total rubbish....give it the strongest possible denial you can give.

He also said he was confident that the damage to News Corp was "nothing that will not be recovered". Unsurprisingly, the Sun King is fighting back.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Jeremy Corbyn sat down on train he claimed was full, Virgin says

The train company has pushed back against a viral video starring the Labour leader, in which he sat on the floor.

Seats were available on the train where Jeremy Corbyn was filmed sitting on the floor, Virgin Trains has said.

On 16 August, a freelance film-maker who has been following the Labour leader released a video which showed Corbyn talking about the problems of overcrowded trains.

“This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed,” he said. Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

Commentators quickly pointed out that he would not have been able to claim for a first-class upgrade, as expenses rules only permit standard-class travel. Also, campaign expenses cannot be claimed back from the taxpayer. 

Today, Virgin Trains released footage of the Labour leader walking past empty unreserved seats to film his video, which took half an hour, before walking back to take another unreserved seat.

"CCTV footage taken from the train on August 11 shows Mr Corbyn and his team walked past empty, unreserved seats in coach H before walking through the rest of the train to the far end, where his team sat on the floor and started filming.

"The same footage then shows Mr Corbyn returning to coach H and taking a seat there, with the help of the onboard crew, around 45 minutes into the journey and over two hours before the train reached Newcastle.

"Mr Corbyn’s team carried out their filming around 30 minutes into the journey. There were also additional empty seats on the train (the 11am departure from King’s Cross) which appear from CCTV to have been reserved but not taken, so they were also available for other passengers to sit on."

A Virgin spokesperson commented: “We have to take issue with the idea that Mr Corbyn wasn’t able to be seated on the service, as this clearly wasn’t the case.

A spokesman for the Corbyn campaign told BuzzFeed News that the footage was a “lie”, and that Corbyn had given up his seat for a woman to take his place, and that “other people” had also sat in the aisles.

Owen Smith, Corbyn's leadership rival, tried a joke:

But a passenger on the train supported Corbyn's version of events.

Both Virgin Trains and the Corbyn campaign have been contacted for further comment.

UPDATE 17:07

A spokesperson for the Jeremy for Labour campaign commented:

“When Jeremy boarded the train he was unable to find unreserved seats, so he sat with other passengers in the corridor who were also unable to find a seat. 

"Later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded to first class, and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff.

"Passengers across Britain will have been in similar situations on overcrowded, expensive trains. That is why our policy to bring the trains back into public ownership, as part of a plan to rebuild and transform Britain, is so popular with passengers and rail workers.”

A few testimonies from passengers who had their photos taken with Corbyn on the floor can be found here