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Rupert Murdoch Mocks UK As He Returns For Leveson Inquiry

Posted: 04/21/2012 9:55 am Updated: 04/21/2012 10:24 am


* Murdoch due to give evidence at media ethics inquiry

* His papers subject of hacking and illegal payments probes

* He attacks UK govt over IMF loan, taxes and wind turbines

By Peter Griffiths

LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch on Saturday mocked the UK government's "mad" plans to lend more money to the International Monetary Fund and criticised its energy, education and tax policies after arriving in London ahead of his appearance at a media inquiry next week.

The 81-year-old News Corp boss will appear before a senior judge in London's High Court on Wednesday and Thursday as part of an inquiry ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate standards in the British press. [ID: nL6E8FK9DW]

Famous for his at times controversial outbursts, Murdoch wasted little time in criticising Cameron's coalition government in a series of messages sent via the Twitter website on Saturday.

His first target was Britain's pledge of nearly 10 billion pounds to help the IMF tackle any fallout from the euro zone crisis [ID: nL2E8FK0TS], as well as a new tax on hot takeaway snacks put forward by finance minister George Osborne.

"Back in Britain," Murdoch said in one message. "Govt sending IMF another ten bn to the euro. Must be mad. Not even U.S. or China chipping in. Same time taxing hot food."

The government has been criticised for its proposed "pasty tax", a new levy that means freshly baked hot food sold in any shop will for the first time incur the VAT sales tax.

There was no sign of Murdoch at his London flat, however. A News Corp spokeswoman had no comment on his arrival or messages.

In another comment, Murdoch waded into the political debate over whether the British government should support the building of wind turbines to generate greener energy.

"English spring countryside as beautiful as ever if and when sun appears! About to be wrecked by uneconomic ugly bird killing windmills. Mad."

He went on to criticise the state of publicly-funded education as a "crime against the young".

"Only one answer, really fix public education and give everyone equal opportunity," he Tweeted. Cameron, Osborne and many other government ministers were educated at fee-charging private schools.

Britain's Leveson inquiry into press standards has taken evidence from celebrities, politicians and crime victims whose phones were hacked to provide stories for Murdoch's newspapers.

The investigation is now turning its attention to the relationships between Britain's press and politicians.

Murdoch, who has courted successive British governments and still owns the Sun and the Times newspapers, closed his bestselling British title, the News of the World, after the phone hacking scandal provoked a public outcry last year.

The last time Murdoch was publicly called to account for the behaviour of the News of the World was last July, when a parliamentary committee investigating the phone-hacking scandal summoned him and James Murdoch to answer questions.

"Plenty to talk about here," Murdoch added in another message. "Ten lively energetic newspapers to consume."

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Filed by Jack Mirkinson  |