PA/Huffington Post UK
Conservative Ministers Michael Gove and Theresa May will be the first serving Cabinet ministers give evidence at the inquiry into press ethics when they appear infront of Lord Justice Leveson Tuesday.
Education Secretary Michael Gove faces questioning about his relationship with Rupert and James Murdoch and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.
Gove, a former journalist for Murdoch-owned newspaperThe Times, recorded 11 meetings with senior News Corp figures between the May 2010 general election and July 2011, and has publicly described Rupert Murdoch as “a great man” and “a force of nature”.
Rupert Murdoch “should be applauded” for setting up the Sun on Sunday he told Parliament in February . He also questioned whether the Leveson inquiry was really necessary, saying that most of the behaviour by journalists which caused it to be set up could have been handled by existing laws.
He has spoken out about the danger of freedom of speech damaged by the “chilling atmosphere” stirred up by the Leveson Inquiry.
Questioning the need for additional regulation of the press, he cautioned against allowing “judges, celebrities and the establishment” to become the arbiters of where the limits of free speech should be set.
Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to be quizzed about the police handling of phone-hacking allegations and the closeness between the police and the media.
They are the latest witnesses in a high-profile week for the Leveson Inquiry, which started with Tony Blair on Monday and that will see embattled Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt give evidence on Thursday.
Tony Blair, who became godfather to Mr Murdoch’s daughter Grace in 2010, told the inquiry yesterday that he had never struck a deal with Mr Murdoch or changed policy under pressure from him.
The former prime minister insisted that New Labour “decided more stuff against the Murdoch interest than in favour of it.”
Blair admitted that he was “perfectly comfortable” with attempting to court the Murdoch press as it “really did matter” what was said about Labour in the media.
However he strongly denied he made any sort of “deal” with Murdoch whereby he would change policies in exchange for favourable press coverage.
Blair said he felt the power of the British media was unhealthy while he was PM – but chose not to take it on as it would have prevented him from pursuing any other policies while in power.
Tony Blair told the Leveson Inquiry that some journalists had waged a “personal vendetta” against his wife Cherie.
He said some comment was “legitimate” but at times criticism was taken “too far”.
The former prime minister said Mrs Blair – a barrister – had taken or considered legal action about media reports more than 30 times in five years.
“I think some of the papers, particularly the Mail group, took it too far and it turned into a personal vendetta.”
“I thought and do think that the attacks on her and my children were unnecessary and wrong,” Mr Blair said.
“I just don’t think it is part of the political debate.”