UK govt defends Murdoch ties as scandal spirals

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LONDON (AP) -- Britain's government is denying it was too close to Rupert Murdoch's media empire amid a spiraling scandal.

The mogul apologized for phone hacking by one of his tabloids in a full-page ad published Saturday.

Government records show Prime Minister David Cameron had more than 20 meetings with Murdoch executives in the past year. Rupert Murdoch's son James, his British lieutenant Rebekah Brooks and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson all stayed at the prime minister's country home.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Saturday he was not embarrassed "in any way" by the government's relationship with Murdoch executives.

Murdoch is struggling to contain a scandal that has knocked billions of News Corp.'s value.