Departing Ofcom chief admits he was 'surprised' by informality of the government's relationship with Murdoch companies

Outgoing Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards has expressed concerns about the government's relationship with Rupert Murdoch's companies.

According to reports Richards was said to be "surprised" at the informality of contact between executives at Murdoch's companies and ministers during News Corporation's failed bid for BSkyB in 2011.

Speaking to the Independent Richards said: "What surprised everyone about it - not just me - was quite how close it was and the informality of it and the extent to which it featured certain companies a lot more than others. There was a widespread concern about the balance."

Richards also revealed that there was "intense pressure from the participants in that bid" placed on Ofcom "particularly from the acquirer".

The deal, which Ofcom recommend be referred to the Competition Commission, fell apart when it emerged News of the World journalists had hacked the phone of Milly Dowler.

Ed Richards is to be replaced as Ofcom chief executive by Sharon White when he steps down at the end of the month after eight years.

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