MacKenzie rounds on PM, Leveson and hacking inquiry

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie accused David Cameron of ‘obsessive arse kissing’of Rupert Murdoch and claimed the Prime Minister set up the Leveson Inquiry as an act of political expediency.

‘Cameron wanted Rupert onside as he believed, quite wrongly in my view, that The Sun’s endorsement would help him to victory (when the paper did come out for Cameron the Sun’s sale fell by 40,000 copies that day),” MacKenzie told a Leveson Inquiry seminar in London yesterday.

‘There was never a party, a breakfast, a lunch, a cuppa or a drink that Cameron and co would not turn up to in force if The Great Man or his handmaiden Rebekah Brooks was there,’he added. ‘There was always a queue to kiss their rings. It was gut wrenching.’

MacKenzie then criticised the man heading up the inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson, telling the audience: ‘God help me that free speech comes down to the thought process of a judge who couldn’t win when prosecuting counsel against Ken Dodd for tax evasion and more recently robbing the Christmas Island veterans of a substantial pay-off for being told to simply turn away from nuclear test blasts in the Fifties. It’s that bad.”

He went on to question whether the inquiry itself was necessary, arguing that there were plenty of laws already in place to punish the press and that Leveson “knows them all by heart”.

Cameron was later attacked for his decision to hire former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, with MacKenzie claiming the inquiry was Cameron’s attempt to ‘escape his own personal lack of judgment”, and arging that the appointment was a ‘gesture of political friendship aimed over Andy’s head to Rupert Murdoch”.

He then told the ‘incredible’story of a recent meeting with Rupert Murdoch. ‘He was in his New York office on the day that The Sun decided to endorse Cameron for the next election. That day was important to Brown as his speech to the party faithful at the Labour Party conference would have been heavily reported in the papers.

“Of course the endorsement blew Brown’s speech off the front page. That night a furious Brown called Murdoch and in Rupert’s words: ‘Roared at me for 20 minutes.’ At the end Brown said: ‘You are trying to destroy me and my party. I will destroy you and your company.’ That endorsement on that day was a terrible error.”

The Leveson Inquiry, argued MacKenzie, should conclude that there is nothing wrong with the UK press and ‘accept the scandal was simply a moment in time when low-grade criminality took over a newspaper”.

He added: ‘If anything, the only recommendation that should be put forward by Leveson is one banning by law over- ambitious and under-talented politicians from giving house room to proprietors who are seeking commercial gain from their contacts. In tabloid terms, arse kissing will be illegal. Should have an interesting passage through Parliament.’

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