UK MP Tom Watson takes on the might of Rupert Murdoch

Even now, Tom Watson routinely memorises the number plates of unfamiliar cars outside his house.

”To be targeted like I was – to be followed by covert surveillance specialists, to have someone try to destroy your character – is very threatening,” said the British Labour MP who helped blow the whistle on News of the World’s phone hacking scheme. ”You get a sense of what it was like for people in the former Soviet Union.”

In 2011 it was revealed that Mr Watson, right, had been stalked by private investigators as payback for his investigation into the paper’s affairs.

Dubbed Rupert Murdoch’s ”tor- menter-in-chief” by the British press, he has devoted himself to the public scrutiny of the 82-year-old’s global empire.

Now he is in Australia to discuss News Corp’s coverage of the election: an unabashed anti-Labor crusade, he believes, driven by Mr Murdoch and former New York Post editor Col Allan.

”It insults Australians when they produce content like that,” Mr Watson said, referring to the recent front pages depicting Labor politicians as clowns and Nazis.

”But they do it for a reason. If you traduce someone’s character, even in a seemingly satirical way, it has a drip-drip effect. This stuff works.”

While Mr Watson’s media tour is sponsored entirely by activist group Avaaz, he is open in his support of Kevin Rudd. Yet he believes Mr Murdoch’s desire to unseat the Prime Minister could succeed.

”People don’t want to acknowledge his power,” he said.

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