Rupert Murdoch: 'I have never asked for anything from any prime minister'

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Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has insisted he has never asked for anything from any prime minister.

The 21st Century Fox executive chairman made the statement in a letter to The Guardian, in which he denied having made an often-repeated comment which appeared to suggest he felt able to ask favours from Downing Street, but not from the European Union.

His intervention comes at a sensitive moment for Mr Murdoch, as Culture Secretary Karen Bradley considers whether to refer Fox's £11.7 billion takeover bid for broadcaster Sky to regulator Ofcom.

Earlier this year, the Evening Standard reported that "some years ago", Mr Murdoch had privately explained his antipathy towards the EU by saying: "When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice."

The reported quotation has been picked up and repeated by campaigners against press influence on government.

But in his letter, Mr Murdoch told The Guardian: "On a number of occasions now your paper has quoted me as saying: 'When I go into Downing Street, they do what I say; when I go to Brussels, they take no notice.'

"There is much fake news published about me, but let me make clear that I have never uttered those words. I have made it a principle all my life never to ask for anything from any prime minister."

Fox's proposed purchase of Sky comes five years after Mr Murdoch's last tilt at taking full control of the business through News Corporation, which was derailed after the company became embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal.