Sir Harold Evans at Leveson

Sir Harold gave evidence to the inquiry via video link

Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times and the Times, told the Leveson inquiry today "all of us made a fatal miscalculation" in assuming Rupert Murdoch's 1981 bid for the titles would not go through.

In evidence to the inquiry today Sir Harold Evans spoke about the bidding process for the titles. Sir Harold was part of a management buyout group bidding for the Sunday Times, consisting of senior editors from the paper, the financial director of Times Newspapers and "outside advisers".

Asked about the revelation earlier this year of a meeting between Murdoch and Thatcher on 4 January 1981, Sir Harold said this was an "astonishing piece of news".

The meeting took place three weeks before he put in a successful bid for the Times and its Sunday sister title.

In his own evidence to the inquiry last month Rupert Murdoch said he did not recall the meeting, but did "totally accept Mr Ingham's detailed minutes which sound to me to be correct".

He added: "I thought it was quite appropriate. I thought it was perfectly right that she should know what was at stake."

When asked if he was asking for Thatcher to support his bid, he said: "I've never asked a Prime Minister for anything. I didn't expect any help from her, nor did I ask for any."

Sir Harold said he continued to emphasise later that January that he would still like his management buyout of the Sunday Times to succeed and also "continued efforts to get the Sunday Times consortium linked to the Times so we could buy the whole company".

But he said "all of us made a fatal miscalculation", in that "we assumed the bid would not go through because of the law of the Monopolies Commission."

In March of this year Sir Harold described Thatcher and Murdoch's meeting as "highly improper" on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

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