James Harding was sacked as Times editor by Rupert Murdoch because he backed Obama, CMA told - Press Gazette

James Harding was sacked as Times editor by Rupert Murdoch because he backed Obama, CMA told

James Harding was sacked as editor of The Times because he backed President Obama in the 2012 US presidential election, according to Lord Puttnam.

The Labour peer made the claim in evidence to the Competitions and Markets Authority which is currently considering whether to approve Times owner Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn bid to take complete ownership of Sky.

Puttnam said: “James Harding was, I think, a very good editor for The Times. He made the terrible mistake of backing President Obama in The Times in the election and was removed from his job. So the idea that this is an organisation that has respect for serious journalism and serious independence is a wild fantasy.

“You have just got to accept that. In a sense we do not do ourselves any particular justice by pretending otherwise.”

Harding admitted in 2013 that he “was resigned from” his job as Times editor in December 2012. He said that when a “proprietor had a different view of things from the editor, I understand that the proprietor is not leaving”.

Under legal undertakings given by Rupert Murdoch when he bought The Times and Sunday Times in 1981 only the independent directors of the paper have the power to hire and fire editors.

Murdoch also gave legal undertakings guaranteeing editorial independence when he bought the Times titles.

Also giving evidence to the CMA was former Labour leader Ed Miliband MP.

He said: “The Times and The Sunday Times have been used in relation to press regulation to attack the idea of independent regulation, to attack the Crown Prosecution Service and what it did over phone-hacking, to attack the idea of Leveson Part 2, time after time after time. ”

Andrew Neil. Picture: BBC

Former Tory Minister Ken Clarke MP said Andrew Neil was fired as Sunday Times editor in 1994 because of editorial coverage which undermined Murdoch’s business interests.

He said: “He got sacked, because he wrote a piece about Mahathir [Mohamad – then prime minister] in Malaysia. They wrote a piece about corruption in Malaysia and the trouble was Rupert was trying to get a television franchise in Asia. Mahathir was furious.

“Mahathir proudly boasted to me when I was on a ministerial visit that he got Andy fired, because he had rung up Murdoch and said: ‘If your newspapers repeat any of this again you are not ever going to get a television mast in Asia’ and Andy was fired.”



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette


5 thoughts on “James Harding was sacked as Times editor by Rupert Murdoch because he backed Obama, CMA told”

  1. Ken Clarke urges CMA to reject Rupert Murdoch’s Sky bid with wide-ranging attack on his excessive political influence
    Some point “I wish clarity on Ken please as a sky subscriber now.
    Ken old fossil what are you bothered about here SIR!
    1-Mr Murdoch does not like the Tory Govt FULL STOP.
    2-You Tories in power now have No hold on him so cannot order him to do anything?
    3-You are unable to bribe him as he does not need your cash?
    4- He could use his new live news platform to put out news
    On your party member, you do not like.
    5-Or could it be you just do not like the man Ken?(he may not like you SIR)
    6-What was Tory party motto to the companies in the E.U. AREA PLUS OUTSIDE E.U.
    Let “me think? “I have remembered you are all welcome to start up new, business here in the U.K.
    We welcome you warmly here to U.K.!
    7-Therefore Ken why are you crying or Whining to the C.M.A.
    To put a stop! Mr Rupert Murdoch buying plus starting a new company up and keeping worker in U.K. in jobs?
    8- Does this not go against your own party Motto code of you are all welcome to U.K
    We value your company’s here.
    (Yes, it does go against your party MOTTO KEN)
    Ken your Govt need the cash of Mr Murdoch.
    (, i.e. tax paid to Govt by him)
    As our taxpayer money, pot is empty and you SIR
    As a Tory party old soldier in Govt, you already know the taxpayer money pot is empty!
    9-So Ken “me has a SKY user say give the man a break if you do not like him, do not talk about him or to him it that simple SIR!
    10- LET him buy the sky shares remember Ken it not your job on the line here, it the worker at SKY now that are suffering NOT you KEN. (By you Tories holding up the deal)
    Your job is being a M.P. only not tell us voter WHO can & cannot start a business up in the U.K where we all benefit from his taxes being “paid here by him.
    Therefore, “I politely say Ken put teeth in class have a rum and go to bed and give us all a break we SKY users will keep an eye on Mr Murdoch. For any wrongdoing not Tory Govt members O.K. Remember, us SKY users cannot be “bribed or paid off like polertishion could be KEN.
    Your voice plus feeling KEN for Mr Murdoch has been hard now Ken O.K.” I will keep an eye on Mr Murdoch just like “I keep an eye on all you, In Tory Govt members, plus member of over parties in H.O. Commons plus all parliament areas as well O.K.

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