Minister was ‘derided’ by journalists

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg arrives at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards at The Royal Courts of Justice in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2012. See PA story INQUIRY Leveson. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg arrives at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards at The Royal Courts of Justice in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2012. See PA story INQUIRY Leveson. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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DEPUTY Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg claims the Press had ‘ignored or derided’ him and his party before they entered government.

The Liberal Democrat leader and Sheffield Hallam MP was giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into Press ethics yesterday.

He told the hearing at the High Court in London how at one dinner party in December 2009 he attended with Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Times, The Sun and News of the World, that he was little more than ‘an observer’.

“I was at the end of the table, where the children sit, so to speak,” he said.

Mr Clegg said his strong performance in the first televised leaders’ debate ahead of the 2010 general election had sparked a major shift in attitudes towards him and his party.

He said national newspapers had gone from being ‘indifferent at best’ to ‘lashing out’ after his ratings spiked in the polls.

“If that is what you are used to in the Press, it must come as a shock, I guess, when you suddenly have these people who you have been either ignoring or deriding suddenly doing well in a general election, you start lashing out a bit, and that is what happened,” Mr Clegg said.

He said some papers started ‘going after the man rather than the ball’.

Mr Clegg said contacts with journalists and media executives were more formal since entering government, partly because he was based in Whitehall rather than Parliament.