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Cable 'under siege' over BSkyB bid
Business Secretary Vince Cable only told undercover reporters he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch because he felt "under siege" from his media empire and wanted to highlight his independence, he said.
The cabinet minister, who was stripped of responsibility for the media in 2010 when the unguarded comment emerged, strongly denied showing any bias against News Corporation in his handling of its proposed takeover of BSkyB.
But in evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into media standards he accused the Murdoch empire of making "inappropriate" approaches to fellow Liberal Democrat MPs in an apparent bid to influence his decision on whether to refer the bid to a watchdog.
He said his outspoken declaration of "war", for which he apologised, was a direct result of that pressure.
In written evidence to the inquiry, he described how he was approached by the reporters, posing as female constituents at a constituency surgery which was already tense because of a protest outside.
Apart from that taking away his concentration, he said: "The confrontational way in which my personal views of News Corporation were expressed was due to reports coming back to me of how News Corporation representatives had been approaching several of my Liberal Democrat colleagues in a way I judged to be inappropriate."
He said it was "a new and somewhat unsettling experience" for a political party which had previously been all but ignored by the big media groups. "My references to a 'War on Murdoch' were making the point, no doubt rather hyperbolically, that I had no intention of being intimidated", he added
Mr Cable said that he had personal concerns about the mounting influence of the Murdoch empire, but insisted that they had not in any way affected his decision. "In my opinion as a politician, I believed that the Murdochs' influence, exercised through their newspapers, had become disproportionate," he said in his written evidence.
Challenged as to whether this was a factor in his decision to refer the takeover bid, he replied: "It most definitely was not. This was not a factor in my decision." He said he had a "nuanced" overall opinion of the Murdoch media operation but had never spoken publicly about it.
Mr Cable said he accepted that his "war" remark had gone beyond the point at which the public would believe he could act impartially in the takeover - even though that was not the case. "I do understand that the remarks I made did create a perception of bias and therefore made it difficult for me to continue. I fully understand that. I don't mean to say that I would have been biased. I would not have been. But, nonetheless, there was a perception issue and that had to be taken into account."