Leveson inquiry
Murdoch Pushed Blair on Iraq, Says Campbell Reuters

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch egged on former prime minister Tony Blair on the Iraq war, said Blair's former spokesperson Alastair Campbell.

The former communications chief of Number 10 revealed his claim in the latest part of "The Campbell Diaries" published by the Guardian newspaper.

A week before an important vote in parliament on the Iraq in March 2003, three important calls were made, writes Campbell.

The revelation surfaces just a few days after Murdoch said at the Leveson inquiry that he never asked a prime minister for anything.

Murdoch immediately denied Campbell's claim and tweeted, "I stand by every word I said at Leveson."

Murdoch's News Corp also released a statement rubbishing such an allegation against Murdoch. The statement said Campbell does not have any evidence to back up his claim to support that Murdoch lobbied Blair on behalf of the US republicans over the Iraq war. The statement said Campbell's is a "ridiculous" claim, reported the BBC.

Campbell was quick enough to respond to Murdoch's tweet on Saturday early morning in his blog. "News International were right to say last night that 'there isn't any evidence in Alastair Campbell's diaries' that 'he [Murdoch] was pressing Tony Blair on Iraq on behalf of the Republicans," wrote Campbell.

Campbell added: "Nor, to be fair to me, have I said there was. It is however evidence of the extraordinary topicality and controversy of the Murdoch brand that out of 700 pages of a book covering the momentous period from 9/11 to the Iraq War, The Guardian should lead their coverage on a very short entry about this phone call. "

Campbell was Blair's communications chief from 1997 to 2003 and worked closely with the prime minister.

Campbell's book The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq alleges that Murdoch's moves were made to support the Republicans and he said Murdoch's interventions came out of the blue.

About the 11 March 2003 conversation on Murdoch urging Blair, Campbell wrote, "He [Blair] also took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc. Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got."