It looks like Tony Blair is even closer to Rupert Murdoch than anyone imagined. This morning it emerged that Blair is godfather to Murdoch’s nine-year-old daughter, Grace, the second youngest of his six children. The secret was divulged by Wendi Deng in an interview in the October edition of Vogue. The magazine reports that Blair, who Deng described as one of Murdoch’s “closest friends”, was present at the christening on the banks of the River Jordan in 2010, at the spot where Jesus is traditionally believed to have undergone the same ceremony.
The revelation goes some way to explaining why, unlike Peter Mandelson for example, Blair has refused to distance himself from Murdoch since the phone hacking scandal went global. As I previously noted, when asked about the subject at a press conference in Australia, Blair went out of his way to avoid criticising Murdoch and even claimed that the News Corp boss had taken “responsibility” for the scandal. In fact, Murdoch told MPs during the select committee hearing: “I do not accept ultimate responsibility. I hold responsible the people that I trusted to run it and the people they trusted.”
The news is a political gift to the Tories, who will use it to reinforce their claim that Labour was just as guilty as them of kowtowing to Murdoch. To his credit, Ed Miliband has never sought to deny as much and has deftly distanced himself from Blair and Gordon Brown, both of whom were obsessed with wooing Murdoch and his proxies.
Blair’s office has so far refused to comment on the news but it will be hard for the former prime minister to avoid the subject. The appearance of former News of the World editor Colin Myler and Tom Crone, the paper’s former chief lawyer, before the media select committee means that the Murdochs will be back at the top of the news agenda.