Rupert Murdoch plays an Aussie straight bat in feeble Leveson inquisition

I suppose when you’re 81 you can do weary in an extended grilling about your company, your ethics and, most of all, yourself and Rupert Murdoch did just that today, masterfully, when he testified before the UK’s Leveson Inquiry into media ethics.

For some reason counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay spent the morning session quizzing Rupert about his behaviour as boss of Times Newspapers in the 1980s and the supposed favours he extracted out of Mrs Thatcher to gain control of The Times and the Sunday Times in the first place.

But the reality was, as everybody knows, that Times Newspapers had been out on strike for a year and the owning Thomson family wanted rid. The only alternative buyer was Robert Maxwell – enough said. Since then Murdoch has kept The Times going, at a cost of around £400m over 30 years I reckon. Who else would?

Was Jay trying to establish a context showing that Murdoch had expanded his empire by manipulating British governments? If so, he failed.

As to the rest of it, we failed to learn the real reason why David Cameron summoned Rupert to No !0 Downing Street shortly after he took office as PM in May 2010 and also to discover what Murdoch really thought of Cameron.

Murdoch is back on tomorrow but it looks as though he’s ground the opposing fast bowler into submission, just like great Australian test match opening bats Bill Lawrie, Bobby Simpson, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden used to do.

The beefy Hayden used to try to launch his opponents into the crowd now and again. One-time Aussie Keith Rupert Murdoch has eschewed this risky temptation. Jay needs to seriously annoy him in the overs he has left.

In the Royal Courts of Justice today someone overheard Murdoch saying: “Let’s get him (Jay presumably, maybe Leveson himself) to get this fucking thing over with today.”

They didn’t. But Rupert will no doubt bat out time until the umpires intervene, so everybody can get to the bar.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.