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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

Rupert Murdoch to face new questions from MPs

July 10 2013

Rupert Murdoch will be quizzed by MPs for a second time over allegations of phone hacking and corrupt payments. The Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee plans to recall Mr Murdoch in the autumn to answer questions over a secretly recorded clip of him meeting News International journalists in March. Critics have insisted the tape showed Mr Murdoch’s real attitude to the crises that have engulfed his empire, in contrast to the contrition he displayed when giving evidence to the committee two years ago. The Hacked Off campaign group has demanded his recall and suggested he may have committed a contempt of parliament. The News Corp boss was apparently recorded describing the treatment of journalists who had been arrested as a “disgrace” and saying that police had been told to obtain court orders to get information, rather than the company offering up material as it had done previously. The audio, obtained by the Exaro investigative website and broadcast by Channel 4 News, was said to have been made during a meeting with journalists from The Sun at his British newspapers’ headquarters in Wapping, east London, in March.


‘The Scottish justice system does not need any lectures from Tom Watson’ Salmond rejects calls for Scottish inquiry into phone hacking

May 2 2012

Alex Salmond has rejected calls for a Scottish inquiry into phone hacking amid continued controversy over his relationship with Rupert Murdoch. The First Minister insisted the Leveson Inquiry was already looking into the relevant issues after a House of Commons report severely criticised the News Corp chairman. The Culture, Media and Sports Committee on Tuesday accused Mr Murdoch of ''wilful blindness'' towards the wrongdoing that led to the News of the World phone hacking scandal and concluded he was not a ''fit person'' to lead a major international corporation. Meanwhile Tom Watson, the Labour MP who came to prominence through his role on the committee, urged Mr Salmond to set up a Scottish inquiry in the wake of revelations that former First Minister Jack McConnell had his phone hacked. But the SNP leader who is facing sustained criticism over his links to the Murdochs ruled out the move and also refused to comment on Mr Murdoch's suitability for the role of News Corp chairman. He said: ''The question of who is a fit person to run a major news organisation should be judged by independent authorities like Lord Leveson and by the scrutiny of an independent statutory body like Ofcom, rather than a politically divided committee of MPs split on party lines. ''That is where responsibility for any recommendations should lie. Indeed that is the whole point of the Leveson Inquiry, which has been charged with looking at these issues. ''In terms of the suggestion of a separate Scottish inquiry, the Scottish justice system does not need any lectures from Tom Watson, who seems unaware of the fact that the Leveson Inquiry includes Scotland within its remit, and the fact that a Strathclyde Police special unit are currently investigating allegations of criminality in Scotland. ''That investigation will proceed wherever the evidence leads, without fear or favour, to ensure Scottish citizens are afforded the proper protection of the criminal law. And in Scotland I am confident the criminal law will be upheld.'' Mr Salmond's dismissal of the committee report provoked opposition anger at Holyrood. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: ''It is strange day when Mr Salmond is happy to let Westminster run with the ball on something that affects Scotland. "In the last few days we have learned that phone hacking reached the very top of government in Scotland. It is right and proper that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to look into the phone hacking scandal in its own way and in its own time. "Mr Salmond should try not to let the serious questions he is facing over his own links with Rupert Murdoch cloud his judgment.'' Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont accused Mr Salmond of ''selling out'' the office of First Minister to act as ''the last line of defence'' for Rupert Murdoch. ''It is the job of leaders to lead and if Salmond feels he can't lead on this issue, questions will be asked of what is it about his close relationship with the Murdochs which is stopping him,'' Ms Lamont said. The First Minister came under fire last week over the suggestion he would lobby Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt on behalf of the Murdochs' attempted takeover of BSkyB. Mr Salmond has categorically denied the offer was in return for favourable coverage in Mr Murdoch's Scottish Sun newspaper. Photo by Rebecca Naden/PA Wire


Opponents maintain Murdoch pressure on Alex Salmond

May 1 2012

The continuing furore over Alex Salmond's relationship with Rupert Murdoch threatens to overshadow the local government elections. The First Minister faced further questions about his dealings with the under-fire media tycoon as he made a blitz of media appearances on Monday as part of the SNP campaign for the crunch vote on Thursday. Mr Salmond admitted to serving the News Corp chairman a Tunnock's tea cake when he visited Bute House in Edinburgh. But he added: ''The point I am making is very clear the Labour Party had a 15-year love affair with News International and now start talking about other people's meetings. ''The point and difference I would make is that whoever I meet, if they are major employers and BSkyB employ 6,700 direct jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs then I will advance the Scottish interest.'' But with Prime Minister David Cameron forced to answer an urgent question on Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's involvement with Mr Murdoch, Scottish Labour again attacked Mr Salmond over his failure to make a statement at Holyrood. Parliamentary business manager Paul Martin said: ''The First Minister must make a statement now and he must urgently meet with other party leaders to set up our own parliamentary inquiry into phone-hacking and the Murdochs. ''If Westminster can do it, why can't the Scottish Parliament? If Alex Salmond refuses the only conclusion we can come to is that he is protecting his rich pal Rupert Murdoch again.'' And Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who was campaigning in Dundee, said the developing scandal was a reason not to vote for Nationalist councillors. ''Alex Salmond's support for Rupert Murdoch's newspapers over phone hacking shows that the SNP will do anything to secure independence,'' he said. But SNP MSP Humza Yousaf said: ''More than ever Scotland needs 'can-do' councils that will work together and with the Scottish Government to deliver a socially progressive Scotland. ''Only the SNP can be trusted to protect family budgets in difficult financial times.'' Photo by David Cheskin/PA Wire


Rupert Murdoch mocks Ed Miliband’s tough talk

March 27 2015

Ed Miliband's claim to have "stood up" to powerful figures such as newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch drew a stinging response from the News Corp chairman. "Thanks for 2 mentions, Ed Miliband. Only met once for all of 2 minutes when you embarrassed me with over the top flattery," he posted on Twitter, following the Labour leader's TV grilling. Mr Miliband told Jeremy Paxman: "The thing I've learnt most in this job is to be yourself. That's what I am. https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/581221050333073408 "People have to decide - do they want my ideas, do they want my principles when I stood up not just to President Obama, but Rupert Murdoch, the energy companies, the banks, fighting for ordinary people, which is what I believe in and what I came into politics for?" https://twitter.com/Ed_Miliband/status/581232333656752128 Mr Miliband's wife Justine has revealed that she felt "pretty nervy" about the decision by her husband to take on Mr Murdoch's newspapers in the wake of the Milly Dowler phone hacking revelations. "I remember not being quite sure how it would all play out, but I thought, 'You have shown you have got the guts to do things that people wouldn't expect'," she told the BBC.


Opponents question wisdom of Alex Salmond’s meeting with Rupert Murdoch

March 1 2012

Alex Salmond has been criticised for entertaining scandal-hit media tycoon Rupert Murdoch at his official residence. The First Minister held an hour-long meeting with Mr Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, at Bute House in Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon. The talks came on the day Mr Murdoch's son, James, stepped down as executive chairman of News International, a role that has seen him face fierce scrutiny in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. A spokesman for Mr Salmond insisted the ''constructive meeting'' had focused on the firm's businesses in Scotland and potential for further investment in the country. He added: ''Mr Murdoch was keen to express his view that the current debate on Scotland's constitutional future continued to make Scotland an attractive place for inward investment. ''During the meeting, the First Minister indicated firm support for the current Leveson inquiry and police investigations into journalistic malpractice. ''Mr Murdoch gave strong assurances that News International are intent in consigning these matters to the past and emerging a better organisation for it.'' Critics, however, seized on the meeting as further evidence that relations between the two men are too friendly. Last week Mr Murdoch hinted he supported Scottish independence, saying on Twitter that ''everyone would win.'' The tycoon's words followed another message in which he described Mr Salmond as the ''most brilliant'' politician in the UK. Last year Mr Murdoch's Scottish Sun newspaper supported Mr Salmond's SNP in the Holyrood election and the talks came three days after Mr Murdoch's new title, the Sun on Sunday, claimed October 18 2014 will be the date of the independence referendum. The Scottish Government later said the date, which falls on a Saturday, is a ''possibility''. Opposition politicians said the talks raised further questions about Mr Salmond's close links to the controversial businessman. Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, described the meeting as ''inappropriate.'' He added: ''The scandal that has engulfed News International and caused them to shut down one of their leading newspapers has shocked the public and the thought of the First Minister enjoying a cosy cup of tea with Rupert Murdoch will not be well understood.'' Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said people would ''expect more'' from the First Minister. ''Many people will be perplexed that the First Minister can have such a close association with the troubled media tycoon. We need to know that he argued with force that News International must clean up its act.'' The meeting also involved Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of News International. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Archive


Nicola Sturgeon held ‘secret’ New York meeting with Rupert Murdoch

September 1 2015

Nicola Sturgeon failed to disclose a meeting with controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch held during an official visit to New York, it has emerged. The First Minister met the News Corporation chairman during a visit to the offices of the Wall Street Journal on June 9 after holding talks with the editor-in-chief but did not list it in her official engagements. It was also omitted from an in-depth diary published in another newspaper. The Scottish edition of the Sun, owned by Mr Murdoch, offered strong support to the SNP at the recent election although the UK edition backed the Conservatives. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “If Nicola Sturgeon felt comfortable with her meeting with Rupert Murdoch, then she wouldn’t have been so coy about it.” Jackson Carlaw, deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, said: “No doubt the SNP’s swathes of socialist supporters will be thrilled at this news of hobnobbing. But why so secret?” The Scottish Daily Mail disclosed the existence of the meeting. Ms Sturgeon’s diary entry for that day, published in the Herald, said: “10.30. I get a readout from this week’s (Scottish) cabinet meeting on the way to a sit down with the Wall St Journal editorial board.” A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The First Minister was invited to and attended a meeting of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. “The editor-in-chief invited Mr Murdoch in towards the end of the meeting to greet the First Minister. No private meeting took place.”


Alex Salmond surprises Leveson inquiry with Observer claims

June 14 2012

Alex Salmond has claimed his private bank records were accessed by a national newspaper. Giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry in London on Wednesday, the First Minister also revealed he has no evidence to suggest he has been a victim of phone hacking. But he added that he does believe his bank account was accessed by the Observer newspaper in 1999. ''My reason for believing that is I was informed by a former Observer journalist who gave me a fairly exact account of what was in my bank account that could only have been known to somebody who had seen it,'' he said. Responding to Mr Salmond's claim, a spokesman for the Observer said: ''We have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate the allegation.'' Mr Salmond, who was SNP leader and an MP at the time, said he had bought toys for his young nieces in a toy shop in Linlithgow, West Lothian, called Fun and Games. ''The person who informed me told me this caused great anticipation and hope in the Observer investigation unit because they believed that perhaps 'Fun and Games' was more than a conventional toy shop.'' The revelation came as Mr Salmond defended his relationship with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch in three hours of testimony before Lord Justice Leveson. He said he had met Rupert Murdoch ''five times in five years'' which was ''pretty reasonable'' and ''isn't in the same league as Mr Blair, Mr Brown or Mr Cameron''. But he staunchly denied any suggestion he had tried to gain favourable coverage in Mr Murdoch's newspapers by offering to lobby for the controversial takeover bid of BSkyB. Asked whether he was in favour of News Corporation's bid to fully own BSkyB, Mr Salmond told the inquiry he supported ''what benefited the Scottish economy''. He said it was ''perfectly legitimate'' to pledge to speak to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt about the deal, but no discussion ever took place. ''I don't just not accept that there wasn't an implied deal there wasn't a deal here,'' he added. Asked if it was true Mr Salmond had offered to call Mr Hunt about the deal ''whenever we need him to'', the First Minister said: ''It's an encapsulation of what was in a conversation but I had already established the point that I was prepared to make recommendations to the Secretary of State to say that jobs and investment were matters that should be properly considered when the time was right to do that.'' His evidence was criticised by opposition politicians. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont branded the testimony ''embarrassing'', adding: ''Alex Salmond admitted he was at Rupert Murdoch's beck and call and prepared to lobby on his behalf whenever he asked. ''Yet he offered not one scrap of evidence that Scotland benefitted from his closeness to the Murdoch empire.'' Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: ''Mr Salmond failed to provide evidence that he didn't trade support for News International on phone hacking in return for political support from the Sun and News of the World. ''He put his interests above those of the phone hacking victims." Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA

Sky delivers hike in half-year earnings amid Fox takeover saga

January 25 2018

Broadcasting giant Sky has posted a leap in half-year earnings as it added new customers and benefited from a hike in demand for pay-as-you-go products.The group reported a 10% rise in underlying earnings to £1.1 billion for the six months to the end of December as it added 365,000 new customers and sold 20 million pay-as-you-go products, such as one-off films and sporting events.The figures come days after Britain’s competition watchdog provisionally blocked 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky.The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal would hand Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and his family too much control over UK news media and is looking at remedies before making its final decision by May 1.Sky’s interim results showed the group’s customer base stands at 22.9 million after the half-year performance.Chief executive Jeremy Darroch cheered an “excellent” set of results against a difficult consumer market, with household finances under pressure.He said: “This performance reflects the investment choices we have made in recent years, allowing us to more than offset the pressure on consumer spending across Europe.“Looking ahead, we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging, however we remain confident in our strategy and our ability to execute our plans.”On a reported basis, operating profits rose 24% to £573 million, while revenues lifted 5% to £6.7 billion.Mr Darroch said Sky had continued to keep a lid on costs through efficiency savings, but would remain focused on investing in original content “each and every year”.It said viewing on Sky channels rose 6%, boosted by the success of its Sky Original productions.But the results come at a tense time for the broadcaster amid speculation that Sky News may be closed to see the Fox deal approved.Mr Murdoch – who also owns newspapers including The Times and The Sun – will have to find a way to appease the CMA, which could include spinning Sky News off, protecting its editorial independence, or closing the channel.

UK & World

Rupert Murdoch to divorce third wife Wendi Deng

June 14 2013

Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from his third wife as the relationship has "broken down irretrievably" but the move will have "zero impact on the company", a News Corp spokesman said. The media mogul filed for divorce from Wendi Deng through New York Supreme Court on Thursday morning. Ms Deng is famous for springing to her husband's aid when a protester threw a custard pie at him as he appeared before MPs to answer questions about phone hacking in 2011. The News Corp spokesman said the divorce will have "zero impact on the company", as it emerged a pre-nuptial agreement was in place to protect Mr Murdoch's shares. He said the divorce filing states: "The relationship between the husband and wife has broken down irretrievably." The spokesman said it was unlikely that the company will release a statement on the matter, so the reasons for the marriage breakdown remain unclear. At 44, Ms Deng is 38 years younger than Mr Murdoch, who is 82. Mr Murdoch and Ms Deng married in June 1999 on board the mogul's private yacht, Morning Glory, amid tight security. The couple have two children together, Grace, who was born in late 2001, and Chloe, who was born in the summer of 2003. Ms Deng was born to strict parents in mainland China and is Mr Murdoch's third wife. Mr Murdoch was reported to have paid out $1.7bn (£1.08bn) in his divorce settlement from his last wife Anna Murdoch a sum that would make it one of the most expensive divorces of all time.