Tony Blair `tried to hush up hacking scandal`

Former UK PM tried to hush up NoW`s phone-hacking scandal by urging his successor Gordon Brown to persuade Labour MP, Tom Watson to back off.

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
conversations."

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.

PTI

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