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5 June 2019

Brown in the clear over Murdoch “war” call

Cabinet Office says it has no record of alleged call to Murdoch in September 2009.

By George Eaton

Rupert Murdoch told the Leveson inquiry that an unbalanced Gordon Brown declared “war” on his company in a phone call following the Sun’s defection to the Tories in September 2009. In his own appearance on Monday, Brown insisted that the call never took place. Who’s telling the truth?

According to the Cabinet Office, Brown is. Earlier today, it announced that it had no record of a call that month, and that the pair spoke only once in the year to March 2010, when they discussed Afghanistan in November 2009.

Here’s the statement in full:

Following Gordon Brown’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Monday we have received a number of questions about our records, which we provided to Mr Brown to support his preparations for the inquiry.

We can confirm that there is a record of only one call between Mr Brown and Rupert Murdoch in the year to March 2010.

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That call took place on the 10th of November 2009.

This was followed up by an email from Gordon Brown to Rupert Murdoch on the same day referring to the earlier conversation on Afghanistan.

Four witness statements have been submitted to the inquiry on the content of the call by staff who worked in No 10 Downing Street and who were the four and sole personnel on the phone call.

Brown’s office said the statement “confirms Mr Brown’s evidence to the inquiry and this document will now be submitted by Mr Brown to Lord Justice Leveson”.

“The fact is there is no record of a phone call Mr Murdoch claims to have had with Mr Brown around the end of September 2009. There is no record of a call because because no call took place. Indeed even now Mr Murdoch has been unable to name any date or a time of such a call.”

Guido speculates that the call could have taken place on a mobile (and gone unrecorded) but it’s worth noting that Brown told the inquiry that all calls, “including those transacted through a mobile phone”, went through the Downing Street switchboard.

It looks like it’s Murdoch with the questions to answer here.