A combative Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday denied exerting any illegal or unethical influence on British politics to the Leveson Inquiry, the U.K. panel investigating phone hacking and media ethics.
The panel asked Murdoch about meetings dating back to the Margaret Thatcher era in Britain, bringing the discussion through the eras of more recent prime ministers until reaching the phone-hacking scandal that has plagued Murdoch's British publishing properties since last July.
When asked whether Thatcher ever offered him any favors, Murdoch retorted, “And none asked. I’ve never asked a prime minister for anything […] I didn’t expect any help from her.”
As for meeting with England’s current prime minister, David Cameron, on his family yacht, Murdoch said it was “part of the democratic process.”
Murdoch was far more aggressive in his testimony than he was before Parliament last July, when international outrage obligated remorse. That appearance also drew headlines for the pie of shaving cream hurled in his direction.
Even so, the testimony of his son James on Tuesday was more controversial and has led to the resignation of Adam Smith, a top aide to culture minister Jeremy Hunt.
James Murdoch discussed meetings between the culture ministry and News Corp. over the media conglomerate's attempted takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. Emails also identified dubious interactions between Smith and News Corp., and Smith has admitted to having “too close a relationship” with the company.
The Labor Party had called upon Hunt to resign after hearing about his meetings with News Corp. officials. Hunt was in charge of reviewing the BSkyB deal for the government.
Hunt has denied any wrongdoing, but his position remains precarious. This has also renewed scrutiny of the David Cameron administration. Cameron employed Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World tabloid at the center of the phone hacking scandal, as his communications director before media scrutiny led Coulson to resign in January of 2011.
Rupert Murdoch denied having any serious discussions with Cameron about the BSkyB deal.