When Murdoch, ex-editor almost came to fisticuffs

When Murdoch, ex-editor almost came to fisticuffs

Such was the level of acrimony between media baron Rupert Murdoch and Harold Evans, the legendary former editor of The Sunday Times, that on one occasion when they were driving to the latter’s home for dinner, they “almost came to fisticuffs”.

Recounting one of the longest running spats between a newspaper proprietor and an editor, Evans, who deposed before the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday, described how he and Murdoch “almost came to fisticuffs” when Murdoch disagreed with a story published in The Times by an anti-monetarist writer.

Evans, who is credited with setting high standards of journalism, was the editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981, and later editor of The Times when Murdoch acquired the Times newspapers.

Evans remained with The Times for a year after the takeover, and resigned over differences over editorial independence with Murdoch, who he called the “evil incarnate”.

Murdoch, who appeared before the inquiry last month, had referred to Evans in unflattering terms, which provoked Evans to ridicule him and question the ability of his memory to remember facts.

Evans recalled the acrimony between the two: “I had the effrontery to call the Nobel prize winner in economics, James Tobin, and say, ‘Write an article looking at the British economic condition’.”

At the same time I called up the government’s economic advisor professor Haynes and said, ‘After Tobin, will you please reply to this?’ He added: “That night I was taking Rupert Murdoch to my home to meet my wife and have dinner. By the time we reached the dinner, it was almost fisticuffs”.

Evans recalled the conversation then went like this: Murdoch: Why did you publish that stuff, Tobin? Evans: He’s a Nobel prize winner, it’s an interesting view on economics.

Murdoch: Intellectual bullshit. Evans: I said Just a minute, what do you know about economics? You said inflation would be down. Murdoch: No, no, no, no get off.

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