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Michael Gove says he does not want to be Times editor and refuses to reveal Murdoch role in Trump interview

By Dominic Ponsford

Michael Gove has said he does not want to be editor of The Times and refused to comment on whether Rupert Murdoch was in the room when he interviewed Donald Trump.

The Financial Times reported that Murdoch was in the room when Gove interviewed Donald Trump for The Times four days before his inauguration as US president, in January this year.

When Murdoch bought The Times and Sunday Times in 1981 he gave legally-binding undertakings that he would not interfere with the editorial content of the newspapers.

In particular he agreed that the editors will not be subject to instruction from the proprietor and that instructions will be given to journalists only by the editor and those “those to whom he has delegated responsibility”.

Gove was appointed as a writer and columnist for The Times in September 2016 after failing in his bid to become Tory leader. Murdoch has previously professed his admiration for the MP.

Some have criticised Gove’s Trump interview for not being sufficiently robust and challenging.

Asked whether Murdoch was in the room when the interview took place, Gove told Christian Today: “I haven’t said anything about who was and wasn’t in – um…The best thing to say I think, in fairness is, um [long pause] in securing the interview, I think the fact that it was the Times newspaper and the fact that we had the – what’s the word…I think [pause] it’s probably better for me not to go into how the interview arose or how it came about but I think it’s entirely fair for people to make a set of conclusions or assumptions about that. I won’t comment on them if you don’t mind…I haven’t said anything about it at this stage.”

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Asked about talk that he is Murdoch’s favourite as a future Times editor, he reportedly said: “No, I wouldn’t really want to do that, no. No. I think that there are certain things that could happen which would mean – I mean I would never want to tempt fate or anything like it – there are certain things that could happen which would mean that I might want to leave Parliament, but no, I am concentrating at the moment on, certainly writing – I love writing – but operating as an MP.”

Under Murdoch’s 1981 undertakings editors of The Times and Sunday Times must only be appointed or dismissed by Murdoch.

However, former Times editor James Harding has suggested that he was effectively sacked as editor by Murdoch.

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