Labour MP Tom Watson today stood by his claim that media mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to halt his anti-phone hacking campaign by asking Tony Blair to 'call him off'.
Mr Watson told the ongoing Leveson Inquiry into press ethics that former prime minister Gordon Brown phoned him in late 2010 or early 2011 to inform him about Mr Murdoch's request to Mr Blair.
He said he distinctly remembered the call, which he took on his mobile phone while stood on a hill on the edge of the Peak District.
Campaigner: Labour MP Tom Watson at today's Leveson Inquiry hearing
'It was within a wider conversation, but I noted it.'
Claim: Mr Watson repeated his claim that Tony Blair (pictured earlier this week) was behind attempts to stop him pursuing his anti-hacking agenda
Mr Watson spearheaded the campaign to investigate allegations of phone hacking, which provoked widespread public disgust when it emerged the now defunct News of the World hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
As well as more than 40 arrests, the scandal has led to the departure of News International CEO Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch's resignation as chairman from BSkyB.
The claim of the phone call, which Mr Watson has previously made in his book Dial M For Murdoch, has been denied by Mr Murdoch and Mr Blair, while Mr Brown says he cannot remember the conversation.
Mr Watson, a member of the House of Commons' influential culture, media and sport select committee, claimed there had been a feeling News International had 'unique access to Downing Street'.
The former junior minister at the Ministry of Defence said the News International newspapers were 'the ones that had the connections and everyone was aware of it'.
'As a minister when I discussed issues and policy there was always a conversation about how this would play out in The Sun,' he said.
'There was a sense that there was a mystique about the News International stable, that they had unique access to Downing Street, and as a minister that was important, and the way you were portrayed in News International papers was important and they factored that into their thinking.'
'Call him off': Tom Watson, pictured arriving at today's Leveson Inquiry hearing with a friend, claims News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch personally intervened to try and stop the MP's anti-hacking campaign
He said he had seen an email trail showing Mazher Mahmood, the paper's 'Fake Sheikh', and other executives put together a 'team to conduct convert surveillance' in 2009.
They wrongly believed Mr Watson was having an affair with a woman and 'creeping into her hotel' while the Labour Party conference in Brighton was held.
News International said the surveillance was ordered purely to establish whether the tip was genuine and nothing to do with Mr Watson's membership of the culture, media and sport select committee.
The media firm's management and standards committee turned over the emails to the parliamentary committee.