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Hacking inquiry: Gordon Brown told Rupert Murdoch he would 'destroy his company'

RUPERT Murdoch said a "furious" Gordon Brown threatened to destroy his empire after The Sun switched its support to the Tories, Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of the paper, has told the Leveson Inquiry in London today..

Mr MacKenzie said Mr Murdoch told him that he had received a phone call in which the former Prime Minister “roared” at him “for 20 minutes”.

The former editor also told the inquiry into press standards that News International, Mr Murdoch’s company, had lied to the Press Complaints Commission and recommended that newspapers be fined for such actions in future.

He also referred to the phone hacking scandal and said The Guardian had “got away” with falsely reporting that News of the World journalists had deleted Milly Dowler’s voicemails.

Had such an error been made by The Sun, he said, the newspaper might have been forced to close.

Mr MacKenzie said he had worked closely with Mr Murdoch for 13 years in which he had spoken to him almost daily.

He added: “They the (UK) Press Complaints Commission were lied to by News International and they should pay a commercial penalty for that.

“The threat of financial penalty will have a straightforward effect on newspapers.”

In July last year, the head of the PCC, Baroness Buscombe, said she was lied to by the News of the World over phone hacking.

She said: "There's only so much we can do when people are lying to us. We know now that I was not being given the truth by the News of the World."

Mr MacKenzie was in charge of The Sun between 1981 and 1994.

His evidence to Lord Justice Leveson was notable for failing to concede ground or submit to the style of questioning.

Asked by Robert Jay QC if he, while editor, had had any regard to such concerns as privacy, he replied: “Not really, no.”

The journalist was critical of the inquiry’s attempt to hold journalists to account for not telling a perfect version of the truth.

Mr MacKenzie likened such attempts to, among other things, the legal case of a car crash in which every participant might have a different viewpoint.

He told the inquiry that there was a great deal of "snobbery" about the media, adding that different stories were treated differently according to the newspaper which printed them.

He said: "If you had Tony Blair's mobile number and you hacked into it and discovered that he was circumventing the Cabinet in order to go to war - as has now emerged in the Iraq Inquiry - and you publish that, if you publish it in the Sun, you get six months' jail. If you publish it in the Guardian, you get a Pulitzer prize.

"So it's very hard to know, to be truthful, what are standards when you're trying to discover truth."

A newspaper editor’s office was, he said, a very different environment to that of the respectful Leveson Inquiry and was, instead, a “sprawl of phone calls and general rioting”.

He also said that newspaper sales were not the first thing on an editor’s mind when deciding whether to run a difficult story or potentially inflammatory photograph.

Instead, he said, the top priority was given to whether the item would improve the quality of the paper for the readers.