London: Former British Premier Tony Blair
tried to hush up the News of the World`s phone-hacking scandal
by urging his successor Gordon Brown to persuade the Labour MP
-- who led the campaign to expose the tabloid -- to back off,
a media report said.
Blair, who is said to have close links with the UK
tabloid`s owner Rupert Murdoch, wanted Brown to get his ally
Tom Watson to lay off the News International title, but Brown
refused, the `Daily Mail` quoted sources as saying.
Watson`s two-year crusade played a major part in
Murdoch`s shock decision to close the newspaper after Sunday`s
edition, the report said.
Brown`s office has declined to comment on whether
Blair had intervened, saying, "We never comment on private
But a friend of Brown said, "There is no doubt about
it, Tony wanted Gordon to intervene."
A spokesman for Blair, however, said, "The allegation
is categorically untrue." He declined to elaborate on which
aspect was untrue.
Blair`s alleged attempt to persuade Brown to put
pressure on Watson is likely to bring his links with Murdoch
under fresh scrutiny.
On becoming Labour leader in 1994, Blair flew to
a conference hosted by Murdoch to end Labour`s feud with him.
The alliance continued throughout Blair`s 10 years as British
Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, as Murdoch`s papers, The
Times, The Sun and the News of the World supported him.