By RAPHAEL SATTER
LONDON (AP) – News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch testified Wednesday he had no anger at Prime Minister David Cameron for setting up the wide-ranging inquiry into media ethics run by one of the country’s most senior judges.
Murdoch was being grilled by the Leveson Inquiry on his relationship with British politicians, a key question thrown up by the phone hacking scandal at his now-defunct News of the World tabloid.
Revelations of widespread illegal behavior at the top-selling Sunday newspaper rocked Britain’s establishment with evidence of media misdeeds, police corruption, and too-cozy links between the press and politicians.
Buffeted by the scandal, Cameron called for a public inquiry into media ethics, a move some observers said had angered Murdoch and prompted him to seek revenge on the prime minister and his party.
Quizzed on the rumors by inquiry lawyer Robert Jay, Murdoch was coy at first.
“Did I say that? Is it in my witness statement?” he asked.
Jay asked again.
The rumors were “untrue,” Murdoch finally said.
Speculation that Murdoch was seeking to inflict political pain on the Cameron’s Conservatives mounted Tuesday when his son James gave damning testimony about British Olympics czar Jeremy Hunt, releasing documents which suggested that the Conservative minister had secretly smoothed the way for News Corp.’s proposed takeover of British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC.
They’ve also been fed by Murdoch’s messages posted to Twitter, in particular one which attacked “old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo.” Politicians said the put-down was a transparent dig at Britain’s Conservative Party.
Murdoch said he was criticizing extremists on both sides of the U.K.’s political spectrum.
“Don’t take my tweets too seriously,” Murdoch told Jay, sending a ripple of laughter across the inquiry room at London’s Royal Courts of Justice.
Hunt, the most senior government official dedicated to the 2012 Games, has denied behaving improperly and on Wednesday he promised that he would make a “very, very determined effort to show that I behaved with total integrity.”
Speaking ahead of Murdoch’s testimony, the judge leading the inquiry appealed for people not to make assumptions about what Hunt was up to.
“It is very important to hear every side of the story before drawing conclusions,” Lord Justice Brian Leveson warned.
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