UK & World News
Campbell Claims Murdoch 'Pushed PM On Iraq'
Rupert Murdoch has denied Alastair Campbell's claims that he put pressure on Tony Blair to speed up the UK's involvement in the war in Iraq.
In the last volume of his diaries, Mr Blair's former spin doctor said the media mogul made a telephone call warning about the dangers of delaying Britain's involvement.
Mr Campbell has told Sky News the phone call "wasn't typical" and that Mr Blair found it "irksome".
"This call came somewhat out of the blue," he said.
"I think Rupert Murdoch was trying to be supportive... but I think Tony felt that with everything else that was going on, that he (Murdoch) was hitting these right-wing Republican buttons... and pressing him on timings and so forth."
The claim comes days after questions were raised about Mr Murdoch's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics that he had "never asked a prime minister for anything".
But Mr Murdoch has backed his evidence, saying on Twitter: "I stand by every word I said at Leveson".
Mr Campbell's book, The Burden Of Power, Countdown To Iraq, suggests the press baron made moves to help US Republicans the week before the Commons vote in 2003 on deploying British troops to Iraq.
On March 11 2003, he wrote: "(Tony Blair) took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc.
"Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy.
"Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got."
The following day he added: "TB felt the Murdoch call was odd, not very clever."
:: Read Alastair Campbell's blog about the phone call
The claims were dismissed by News Corporation.
"It is complete rubbish to suggest that Rupert Murdoch lobbied Mr Blair over the Iraq war on behalf of the US Republicans," the company said in a statement.
"Furthermore, there isn't even any evidence in Alastair Campbell's diaries to support such a ridiculous claim."
But Mr Campbell has told Sky News that he believes his recollection and News International's statement "are both right".
"I have recorded accurately what Tony Blair told me about the call," he said.
"And News International are right to say there is no evidence in my diaries that he was... acting on behalf of the Republican Party."
Former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major also claimed Mr Murdoch had asked him to change his policy on Europe in return for the support of his newspapers.
In his book, Mr Campbell also said that in 2002 Downing Street believed the then chancellor Gordon Brown was "hell-bent on TB's destruction" as a result of his behind-the-scenes manoeuvring.
The former Number 10 communications director also suggested his former boss believed the Prince of Wales had been "captured by a few very right-wing people", following the publication of leaked letters he wrote about a US-style compensation culture in 2002.
:: Read about Alastair Campbell's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry