By Bob Duncan
Confidential telephone records released by the cabinet office appear to back up former PM Gordon Brown's claim that the abusive “declaration of war” call with Rupert Murdoch never took place.
In April, Mr Murdoch told the Leveson enquiry into press standards that Mr Brown, then UK Prime Minister, had called him in September 2009, just after the Sun had switched its editorial support from Labour to the Tories.

The media tycoon claimed that Mr Brown had threatened to “make war” on News Corp and that the PM was not “in a balanced state of mind” when he made the call.

Mr Murdoch stated that he could not remember the exact date of the call but News Corp later said it had been made towards the end of September 2009, when Mr Brown would have been at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Gordon Brown was asked about the call while giving evidence to Leveson on Monday.  The former PM said, “This conversation never took place”, and added, "I'm shocked and surprised that it should be suggested, even when there's no evidence of such a conversation, that it should have happened."

The former Labour leader went on to claim that any call from him to "someone like Rupert Murdoch" would have been made through the Downing Street switchboard, even if it had been made on a mobile phone, because he always wanted to have "someone on the call to verify what happened".

Asked by inquiry barrister Robert Jay QC if he ever rang people directly from, for example, a hotel phone, Brown appeared to accept that it did indeed happen but insisted: "Not someone like Mr Murdoch.  I would always go through Downing Street because you would always want someone on the phone call.

“You would want to have a record of what was being said, and you would want to know exactly the time you did the call and everything else.”

Mr Brown continued, "There's no question that any phone call could have been made without it going through this procedure" adding that he “wouldn't know Rupert Murdoch's phone number."

News Corp responded to Mr Brown's evidence by insisting that Mr Murdoch stood by his version of the events.

The Cabinet Office has now released a statement which Mr Brown claims confirms the evidence he gave to Leveson.  Governments do not normally release information relating to a previous administration, but sources indicated that the statement was released with Mr Brown's approval.

The statement says, "Following Gordon Brown's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Monday we have received a number of questions about our records, which we provided to Mr Brown to support his preparations for the inquiry.

"We can confirm that there is a record of only one call between Mr Brown and Rupert Murdoch in the year to March 2010. That call took place on the 10th of November 2009.

"This was followed up by an email from Gordon Brown to Rupert Murdoch on the same day referring to the earlier conversation on Afghanistan.

"Four witness statements have been submitted to the inquiry on the content of the call by staff who worked in No 10 Downing Street and who were the four and sole personnel on the phone call."

Mr Murdoch responded to the statement by sending a Twitter message, saying: "I stand by every word is aid [I said] at Leveson."

Mr Brown's office has issued a statement saying that the Cabinet Office note "confirms Mr Brown's evidence to the inquiry and this document will now be submitted by Mr Brown to Lord Justice Leveson".

"The fact is there is no record of a phone call Mr Murdoch claims to have had with Mr Brown around the end of September 2009," added a spokesman for the former prime minister.

"There is no record of a call because no call took place.  Indeed even now Mr Murdoch has been unable to name any date or a time of such a call."

Sources at News Corp say technical staff are now going through phone records forensically in an effort to provide supporting evidence to Murdoch's testimony that the conversation did take place.

They also point to Lord Mandelson's evidence to Leveson about a telephone conversation that took place some time after the Sun's switch to the Tories.

Mandelson had said,  "But I know what he said to me about Rupert Murdoch's reaction, which was to say basically: 'I don't like how it's been done and I think it's a bad day to do it and I wouldn't have done it this way myself, but that's life and we have to get on with it.'"

Now that Mr Brown has accused Mr Murdoch of lying under oath to the Leveson enquiry, a more substantial statement from News Corp is expected to be issued shortly.


# RaboRuglen 2012-06-16 05:09
Hi there,

I don't believe Gordon Brown on this one. He could have borrowed a mobile, or bought one for a one-off call.

You can't "prove" a negative, and if it was a one-off call from a mobile, Murdoch will not be able to show that the incoming 'phone number belonged to Brown, unless he actually recorded the content of the telephone conversation on tape. Unlikely.

Bottom line. I don't trust either man further than I could throw them.

# RJBH 2012-06-16 08:10
yup Rab.. If Broon told me the time.. I would check.
# Diabloandco 2012-06-16 06:45
I read somewhere online Mandelson is saying that Brown did threaten Murdoch - ah! such trustworthy folk!
# clootie 2012-06-16 07:04
Blair and Brown lied to take us into a war. It is unlikely that he would not lie to protect his "reputation".

His behaviour, as reported by others, would suggest that the content of the call outlined by Murdoch to be true.
# Jim Johnston 2012-06-16 07:26
Six and half a dozen, pots and kettles, flee wi' craws, bed and lie in it, playing tag with foxes,all spring to mind.
The point is there was and still is an unhealthy, fatal attraction / connection between the press and Westminsters finest.
# Mac 2012-06-16 07:56
Peter Mandelson says otherwise. So who to believe? I do recall a story where it was reported that Brown when he lost it would throw things - mostly mobile phones. Remember this is a guy who said under oath that he would never brief against colleagues. Who would you believe?
# oldnat 2012-06-16 09:10
The trouble with the Levesen inquiry is that supporters of one party tend to assume that politicians of other parties are lying - whether there is evidence or not.

There isn't a lot of difference between a number of the comments above and those SLab folk who assume that Salmond was lying too.
# gt-cri 2012-06-16 11:19
Exactly, the only thing we can be sure of is that someone is!
# Edulis 2012-06-16 09:33
Whether a story has veracity or not depends on other circumstances. Salmond straightforward ly said that nobody under oath could say that they didn't try to influence the agenda of newspapers and he in any case had no quasi-judicial role - in other words he was a free agent to lobby for one side or the other. Brown on the other hand has a legion of former colleagues who say quite openly that he did brief against his own Government colleagues, that he was a bully and that he did threaten staff. AS did admit in his evidence that he briefed against one person - Tony Blair, but he was open about it because he joined with others to present a motion to Parliament on war crimes.

Salmond - believable
Murdoch - part believable in the context of his business agenda
Brown - unbelievable in this case
# daveniz 2012-06-16 10:18
are we really suprised that Gordon brown is denying he threatened Murdoch using selected phone records to pretend proving it! does Gordon brown really think that people will believe him? if he threatened Murdoch he wouldn't do it through a telephone line that records his conversations and who's to say the cabinet office didn't ommit the call from the records! remember Gordon brown was a bully when he was prime minister its not beyond brown to bully Murdoch to get his way! also labour and lies go hand in hand can't remember the last time labour didn't twist the truth or use blatant lies but then again the msm and especially BBC never expose labour when they lie so no wonder labour are so confident to make up accusations and lie all the time!
# Koenig 2012-06-16 10:30
O/T With the announcement the UK government is to make £100 billion available to banks. Considering they had a deficit last year of £124.6 billion and this year looks to be a similar deficit. Where is the money coming from? They have to be borrowing it. There is no end to the financial mismanagement coming from Westminster.
# oldnat 2012-06-16 10:50
The Bank of England does not need to borrow money - it simply increases the money supply. The modern equivalent of printing banknotes.
# Old Smokey 2012-06-16 11:13
Actually would not be surprised if in fact its the higher revenues from Oil currently being generated thats going all or in part towards this £ 100 Billion
Remenber the higher the price of oil the higher the revenues are going into the London treasury
# Koenig 2012-06-16 11:13
I think the Bank of England is responsible for part of the £100 billion the rest is coming from government. Though increasing the money supplt also has a detrimental impact on the economy. Why didn't the UK government print money to pay for their banking crisis? That they did have to borrow and is partly responsible for £5.5 trillion of debt.
# Cattanach69 2012-06-16 17:02
They did print money! They printed money to buy thier own junk Bonds! Or at least they had the BoE print it! More than one issue of the offending Bonds failed to sell completely! The prosperctive buyers didnt believe that the Brit Govt could pay back what was offered at the interests returns offered!

It is one of the great deceptions of the Brit Economy! We are never informed directly of the con as the Brit Media acts as a front for the Brit govt disinformation and lie machine!

The Greeks, the Italians, the Spanish etc when they joined the Euro removed thier own ability to print money to buy junk Govt Bonds! Perhaps the real reason the Brit Govt didnt drag us kicking and screaming into the Euro!

There is an illusion at work that the BoE is Independent of the Brit Govt - another great Brit propaganda piece!

As for the original crises in the Wilson and Callaghan years! The IMF loan was ultimately paid by Scotland in the form of Thatchers Axe in the 1980's! That and huge unemployment from which the Brit Economy never recovered not that the we are all stronger together economy was setting the heather on fire anyway!
# kendomacaroonbar 2012-06-16 12:02

Why then did the UK Government borrow $ 4 Billion from the IMF in 1976 if the 'lender of last resort' didn't lend ?
# jafurn 2012-06-16 12:54

Quantitative Easing

As part of its Quantitative Easing 2 program, the Bank of England is increasing the amount of Government Bonds it holds. Instead of using money earned to make these investments the Bank has the right to create it out of thin air!

At one time it may have physically printed physical notes and coins, today it will simply type £75bn in to its computer system. Just like magic!

When the Bank has created this new money it uses it to purchase Government Bonds already on the open market, other bonds issued by the corporate sector or supposed safe assets. So for example if Insurance Company A holds a Government Bond that isn’t near maturity (which is when the Government has finished paying back the principal + interest), the Bank will buy that bond, giving Insurance Company A an immediate injection of capital. The Government then owes the rest of their repayments to the Bank of England, the new holder of the bond.

The other thing to think about is ..What about the 'interest' the interest is never created except as more debt carrying more interest nauseam ..therefore the debt can never be repaid.
# lumilumi 2012-06-16 15:07
This really is nauseating.

We, the ordinary people around the world, are told to tighten our belts because of the faceless “market forces” want us to. If we don’t, that fantasy-money cloud cuckoo land house of cards is coming crashing down and we’ll suffer for it. We, not the fantasy-money speculators who caused it all.

Now, I think most ordinary people find this kind of thinking, and bullying, unfair and wrong, but what can we do? Our political classes are already so in thrall to the global finance class that national sentiments and ideas are swept aside.

I feel sick.
# Koenig 2012-06-16 11:57
Our oil is the main asset the UK government can borrow against. Giving a guaranteed income of 50-100 years. I wonder how it would be viewed if they lost this asset. They've already borrowed up to the hilt against it with everyone assuming they would have this asset forever more.
# ubinworryinmasheep 2012-06-16 12:38
I'd be surprised if Murdoch or Newscorp doesn't have a record of this call and all other correspondence with MP's. Maybe they are holding onto all this evidence just in case the war on them escalates.
# Astonished 2012-06-16 13:20
As either Murdoch or brown are being dishonest I would suggest a simple way of divining the truth.

If this reflects badly on Murdoch then it will be headline news on the BBC Scotland for days. If, on the other hand, brown is guilty then scarce a word and no comparison of each individual's evidence on BBC Scotland.

I no longer watch BBC Scotland but I am guessing scarce a word ?
# Diabloandco 2012-06-16 13:22
OT but I hope you all read Jack Mcleans response to the article in the Herald
" Yes Scotland branded 'shambles' after Green snub "

The response is a cracker!

I kind of hope it was written by THE Jack McLean who made up part of why I used to love the Herald.
# Cattanach69 2012-06-16 14:09
So how does it go? The records were probably shredded, hard drives melted etc except for those that wont incriminate the liars?

Smokescreens and mirrors and from a Cabinet Office well practised in the Dark Arts!
# bigbuachaille 2012-06-16 14:09
Prof with a grand title (Robert Rowthorn, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Cambridge University) has his scaremongering well and truly demolished by informed, pertinent comment by Herald readers. Comment No 4 is particularly worth a read.
# lumilumi 2012-06-16 16:06
It’s not a grand title, emeritus just means he’s retired.

The funny thing is that I caught that article early in the morning before it was put behind a paywall, and before any comments. Couldn’t access the whole article now, but from what I remember, I laughed outloud at the worst case scenario. Oil prices dropping to a ridiculous low and staying there, and Orkeny and Sheltland remaining a part of the UK. Then felt sickened. The UK establishment is attempting to partition Scotland just like they partitioned Ireland... A few months ago those proud representatives Westminster placemen in Orkeny and Shetland, Liam MacArthur MSP (LibDem) and Tavish Scott MSP (LibDem), re-floated the idea, first put by the gruesome twosome, “honourable” lords F&F (Foulkes and Forsyth) in the House of Lords a few weeks earlier. That somehow they could partition Scotland pre-referendum and keep the parts that perhaps voted NO.

It just doesn’t work that way. For the referendum, Scotland as it stands now, is one constituency. What if, say, Glasgow Central voted NO? Would it be a “British” enclave in an otherwise independent Scotland?

If Orkney or Shetland want to rethink their constitutional position after Scottish independence, it’s up to the people of Orkney and Shetland. Self-determination and all that. Can’t see them queuing up to be ruled by Westminster again, though. Maybe some sort of autonomy from Scotland, or even independence, if the Orcadians and Shetlanders want it, fair enough.

Oh, yes, and the Herald headline. No matter that the emeritus prof saw a fairly good or a bright future for independent Scotland under the middle or the best case scenario. But that’s Scottish MSM for you.

[bangs head agaist brick wall in frustration]
# Legerwood 2012-06-16 22:02
Interesting article in the Telegraph about £1 billion contract for reactors for Trident replacement to be announced in next few days.
# oldnat 2012-06-16 22:11
Thanks for the link.

I note from it that the MoD are now publicly saying that the cuts in conventional forces were to release the money (or borrowing) to pay for WMD.

Ministry of Defence sources said that it was possible to go ahead with the reactor contract now because defence cuts and reforms to procurement meant new investments could begin.
A senior MoD source said: “This is good news for the Royal Navy and a great boost for jobs. These cutting edge reactors will support the UK’s submarines for decades and are a vital part of ordering long lead items for the new nuclear deterrent submarines.
“We have balanced the MoD’s books and can now get on with ordering major pieces of equipment for the armed forces to protect us against future threats.”
# border reiver 2012-06-16 22:25
Just read this article that Cameron has caved in to his backbenchers and they are to end all subsidies for windfarms in 8 years.
# Angus 2012-06-16 23:22
Would you trust Gordon Brown?
Misinformation, deception, half truths!
Brown's career was built on manipulation and no substance.
Every Brit PM has kissed Murdoch's dowp (Spelling? We didnt learn Scottish words at school, and the Scottish word for Erse most certainly wasnt taught, along with all the nice words!)
# megz 2012-06-17 19:19
erm with the rate that gordy was throwing mobiles at the wall and breaking them who is to know what mobile he used.

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