News In Depth
Rupert Murdoch - calm and candid
Rupert Murdoch gave the performance of an elderly statesman as he spoke candidly about his dealings with Britain's most senior politicians for more than three decades.
In soft tones, he talked in detail about his close relationship with Baroness Thatcher, his cautious embrace of Tony Blair and hinted at his contempt for Sir John Major.
He said he assumed prime ministers would want to meet him in normal political discourse, as he described David Cameron's visit to his daughter's private yacht in 2008.
Throughout three hours of evidence on Wednesday, Mr Murdoch remained calm and collected and only raised his voice once.
His razor-sharp intellect shone at various points throughout the day but the 81-year-old's fragility was still visible to those looking on from the public gallery.
As the oldest person to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, he was also the first to use a legal aide to help him meander through various evidence folders and witness testimonies.
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, also took a gentle approach to questioning the tycoon.
Compared to his fast interrogation of Mr Murdoch's son James, Mr Jay's interaction seemed more like a topical chat.
Lord Justice Leveson even showed concern for Mr Murdoch's age, sending him home after only three hours of evidence for fear he may have been getting tired.
Mr Murdoch also gave another sign of age by using "completely out of date" language by referring to the Prime Minister's late son Ivan, who suffered from severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy and died in 2009, as "retarded".
But News Corp's chairman and chief executive was determined to show his vitality, jogging to the witness box after a break and asking Mr Jay to continue questioning.
Mr Murdoch, sporting a dark suit and a chequered pale blue tie, attended the hearing with his wife Wendi Deng and son Lachlan.
Ms Deng, who sprung to her husband's aid when a protester threw a custard pie at him when he appeared before MPs last year, bought some glamour to the proceedings as she strolled in emblazoned with flashy jewellery, wearing a chic black jacket, grey trousers and leopard print kitten heels.
However, she did not have to act as a security guard. Only a dozen people sat quietly in the public gallery as proceedings took place.
But staff did rearrange the furniture in the courtroom so the public seats were as far away from the witness box as possible - presumably to prevent any similar pie-throwing incidents.
One man in the public gallery was asked to leave the court room because he refused to sit down before the hearing started.
Mr Jay immediately delved into Mr Murdoch's relationship with Baroness Thatcher, asking him to recall a meeting at Chequers in 1981.
Understandably, the tycoon had little knowledge of the engagement but accepted it must have taken place.
He insisted that he was not "the power behind Thatcher's throne" and that he did not woo her in Chequers in order to complete his ultimately successful bid for The Times and The Sunday Times.
He showed a slight contempt for Sir John Major and told the court about his guarded relationship with Tony Blair.
There were fits of laughter from the public gallery when he admitted that he was likely to have said: "He says all the right things but we're not letting our pants down just yet," after courting Mr Blair in 1994.
Mr Jay also asked him if he said: "I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully," about his relationship with Mr Blair.
The tycoon said he could not remember using the phrase but he said it is something he would likely say.
The pair went on to become friends, and Mr Blair was last year named as godfather to Mr Murdoch's daughter Grace. However, he was not asked about the family ties during the hearing.
Mr Murdoch went on to candidly talk about his once agreeable relationship with Gordon Brown, before The Sun switched allegiance to the Conservatives in the last General Election and Mr Brown declared war on the Murdoch empire.
"Politicians always seek the support of all newspapers and news organisations," Mr Murdoch told the inquiry.
He said that he wanted to use the opportunity of speaking at the inquiry to dispel the "myth" that he used political power to get favourable treatment in mergers and bids.
"If I had been interested in commercial interests I would have supported the Tory Party in every election," he said.
"I have never asked a prime minister for anything."
Mr Murdoch continued to get laughs from the gallery throughout the day, at one point telling the court not to "take his Tweets too seriously".
He also gained an unintentional snigger when he asked: "Who wrote this?" about his signed witness statement.
Mr Murdoch did reiterate his love for the British press.
"I love newspapers," he said, adding that his shareholders would probably tell him to "get rid of them all".