British Prime Minister Denies Involvement in News Corp.'s BSkyB Bid

David Cameron had dinner with James Murdoch and News International CEO while the merger was being considered by the government.


LONDON -- British Prime Minister David Cameron "didn't get involved" with News Corp.'s $12 billion bid for BSkyB, he said Tuesday, despite attending a high profile dinner with James Murdoch and News International's U.K. CEO Rebekah Brooks while the merger was being considered by the government.

Speaking on BBC Radio, Cameron said the first he had heard of Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's decision to approve the deal was on the news.

"I've had absolutely nothing to do with the merger proposals that were put forward," Cameron told Today show anchor John Humphries.

"I deliberately excluded myself from any part of that decision-making process. The first I knew of the decision was when the results were announced on the BBC."

Cameron said that Hunt's oversight of the deal - which is expected to make News Corp. the biggest player in U.K. media - had included judicial and legal elements that made his intervention inappropriate.

"Jeremy Hunt had a quasi-judicial role to carry out, which he carried out - in my view - entirely properly. And it's quite right that he didn't consult the Prime Minister over that. He looked at the evidence and made the decision and so I don't think there is a problem at all."

Cameron had been questioned on whether it was appropriate fro him to dine at the home of Brooks while the deal was being reviewed. News Corp. Europe and Asia chairman and CEO James Murdoch, who is chairman of BSkyB, also attended the dinner.

"The person in question is married to a very old friend of mine," he replied.

Hunt is expected to greenlight the deal within days, leading to what is expected to be a full bid for BSkyB, in which News Corp. already has a 39 percent stake.