Tuesday 21 December 2010

BBC says Telegraph 'chose not to publish' explosive comments by Cable on Murdoch

Sensational BBC story that Vince Cable told undercover reporters he had "declared war on Rupert Murdoch" and planned to block his efforts to take full control of BSkyB, according to the BBC's Robert Peston.

The business secretary's admission came in conversation with Daily Telegraph reporters posing as constituents. What isn't fully explained is why the Telegraph didn't publish it this morning in its main story about Cable's remarks to its undercover reporters ( although it is now running the 'I have declared war on Murdoch' comments on its website).

Peston said the Telegraph "chose not to publish the most explosive" part of its investigation. But a transcript was passed to him by a whistleblower.

Peston says on his blog Peston's Picks: "I have been passed a full copy of the interview by a whistleblower who is upset that the Telegraph chose to omit these remarks.

"They are not included in a transcript that was published on the Telegraph's site this morning under the heading 'the full transcript'."

The implication is that the Telegraph, published by one of the media groups opposing the Murdoch deal, was not intending to publish Cable's remarks about Murdoch as it may have threatened his position as Business Secretary.

Peston said on BBC Radio 4 News that the whistleblower claimed the Telegraph was not running the Cable remarks about Murdoch for "commercial reasons".

The Telegraph's online story states: "Telegraph Media Group, the owner of The Daily Telegraph, is among many rival media companies objecting to Mr Murdoch’s plans.

However, Mr Cable indicates in the secret recording that he may seek to block the deal on political grounds – which he boasts is one of the benefits of being in Government.

“I didn’t politicise it, because it is a legal question, but he [Mr Murdoch] is trying to take over BSkyB, you probably know that,” the Business Secretary said. “He has minority shares … And he wants a majority. And a majority-control would give him a massive stake.

“I have blocked it, using the powers that I have got. And they are legal powers that I have got. I can’t politicise it, but for the people who know what is happening, this is a big thing. His whole empire is now under attack. So there are things like that, that being in Government … All we can do in opposition is protest.”

The Telegraph adds: "The comments are likely to infuriate Mr Murdoch whose newspapers were among the staunchest supporters of the Conservative Party in the run-up to the general election."

A Telegraph spokesman told the Guardian: "It is utter nonsense to suggest that the Daily Telegraph did not publish the comments from Vince Cable on the Rupert Murdoch takeover of BSkyB for commercial reasons. It was an editorial decision to focus this morning on Cable's comments on the coalition because they were of wider interest to our readers.

"We have made it clear, in the paper, online and in broadcast interviews today, that we would be publishing further comments in the forthcoming days. In the event, the story was put on the Telegraph website shortly after 3pm this afternoon."

  • Against most pundits' predictions, Cable is to stay in the Cabinet as Business Secretary but Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will rule on Murdoch's bid to take full control of BSkyB.

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