Rupert Murdoch’s News International was in talks to sponsor Newham free school

News International was on the verge of sponsoring a free school in Newham, according to evidence published at the Leveson press standards inquiry yesterday.

Senior executives at the company, including former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, met up with council boss Kim Bromley-Derry to discuss opening an academy in the Royal Docks focused on media and literacy.

Correspondence reveals the authority hoped News International, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, would lobby the government to give them extra money for the school.

Officials also took a tour of the proposed site and met up with Mayor Sir Robin Wales following months of talks with Newham children’s services.

But the plan was thwarted after the government said there would be no extra money made available to Newham for a new school building as a result of its spending review.

In a letter to News International, Andrew Dunlop, from the Department for Education, said: ”The conclusion of the very tight spending review is that there is no funding line for new academy provision available to the Department.

“I am sorry that I cannot be more imaginative in coming up with alternative funding solutions. I appreciate

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that News International will want to reflect further on its plans.”

The e-mails were published as part of Rupert Murdoch’s witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry.

The 81-year-old tycoon was grilled earlier this week over his relationship with government ministers and his knowledge of phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World.