Tony Blair strongly denied outrageous internet rumors today linking him with the divorce of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng.
The internet was awash with unfounded suggestions that the former British Prime Minister may have been romantically involved with 44-year-old Wendi Deng, who is a close friend.
The feverish speculation followed a Twitter claim by BBC business editor Robert Peston, who has close links with Murdoch empire insiders, that he had been “told that undisclosed reasons for Murdoch divorcing Deng are jaw-dropping – & hate myself for wanting to know what they are”.
The rumors are understood to have been emphatically rejected by Tony Blair aides as untrue – either now or in the past – and also as highly defamatory.
A spokesman for Tony Blair told the Hollywood Reporter: “If you are asking if they are having an affair, the answer is no.”
The spokesman said Tony Blair would not be making a public comment on the divorce himself.
With no explanation forthcoming from the Murdoch camp, rumors started flying within hours of the bombshell news that the media tycoon had filed for divorce in a New York court, ending his 14 years marriage to his third wife.
It is no secret that the ambitious Wendi Deng and Tony Blair are good friends. He is godfather to Grace, her older child with 82-year-old Rupert Murdoch.
Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff described Tony Blair as “one of Wendi’s first official social conquests” and suggested that the former prime minister had seen her as a key link in his efforts to woo her politically powerful husband.
Rupert Murdoch, who is estimated to be worth nearly $11 billion, cited as grounds for the divorce “that the relationship has broken down irretrievably”.
Tony Blair strongly denied outrageous internet rumors today linking him with the divorce of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng
Insiders said the marriage has actually been strained for years. Some pointed to an article in the New York Times last year in which Wendi Deng’s friends admitted the Murdochs were living “largely separate lives” as she looked after their two children and played the socialite while her husband ran his huge media business.
They reportedly came close to splitting up as long ago as 2006 when Wendi Deng reacted with fury to Rupert Murdoch’s decision that their two young daughters, Grace and Chloe, would not have the same say over the running of the family media empire as his children from previous marriages.
Rupert Murdoch’s biographer Neil Chenoweth suggested that the media mogul had planned the divorce as long ago as February after the death of his mother two months earlier gave him extra shares in the family business that he could use to pay off his wife.
In the same month, observers of the couple at the Oscars saw a noticeable change in Wendi Deng’s behavior towards her husband.
“She was snippy with him during the Oscar weekend and she’s really impatient with him these days,” a source at the time told Deadline Hollywood, a film industry website which first reported the divorce.
Michael Wolff recalled reports that Rupert Murdoch told his oldest son, Lachlan, some years ago that he had concluded that marrying the fiery Wendi Deng was a “mistake”.
Other sources claimed the workaholic Rupert Murdoch was more concerned with the imminent division of his media empire into publishing and entertainment arms than with his split from his wife.
Although the couple have a pre-nuptial agreement which should ensure that the Murdoch business empire is not affected by the split, their settlement will have to sort out what happens to their seven homes.
They include a Manhattan apartment Rupert Murdoch bought for $45 million, a 16-acre vineyard in Los Angeles, a flat in London’s Mayfair, an 11-bedroom house in Beverly Hills and a period house outside the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2000 that Wendi Deng helped break up the marriage of an American couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry, who had befriended her.
In 1988, they arranged for Wendi Deng, then aged 19, to leave China for Los Angeles to learn English.
Wendi Deng reportedly ran off with 53-year-old Jake Cherry and later married him, enabling her to get a “green card” to work in the US. The marriage soon ended after Jake Cherry discovered Wendi Deng was spending time with a man nearly half his age, said the Journal.
Six Chinese bloggers have been arrested and police shut 16 websites after rumors were spread that military vehicles were on the streets of Beijing, officials say.
The web posts were picked up by media outlets around the world, and some critics of Beijing suggested a coup might be taking place.
The State Internet Information Office (SIIO) said the rumors had a “very bad influence on the public”.
Two popular microblogs have temporarily stopped users from posting comments.
The two sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, are still letting people post to their own sites. But they said commenting on other people’s posts would be disabled between 31 March and 3 April, so they “could act to stop the spread of rumors”.
Six Chinese bloggers have been arrested and police shut 16 websites after rumors were spread that military vehicles were on the streets of Beijing
A spokesman for the SIIO told state news agency Xinhua earlier that the two websites had been “criticized and punished accordingly”.
He added that that a number of other people had been “admonished or educated”.
China’s top leaders are grappling with the biggest political crisis they have faced for years.
China will begin a once-in-a-decade leadership change later this year. But one of the main contenders for promotion – Bo Xilai – has just been sacked, suggesting a fierce fight behind the scenes for control of the ruling Communist Party.
Bo Xilai was removed from his post amid allegations that his police chief and former ally had tried to seek asylum at a US consulate.
Chinese censors had previously blocked searches on various sites for terms linked to Bo Xilai.
The People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper, said in a commentary: “Internet rumors and lies packaged as <<facts>> will turn conjecture into <<reality>>, stir up trouble online and disturb people’s minds.
“If allowed to run amok, they will seriously disrupt social order, affect social stability and harm social integrity.”
While there is no evidence to substantiate the rumors of a coup, the party is clearly upset.
Internet rumors claim that Beyoncé has given birth to a baby girl in New York. According to reports- which neither Beyoncé herself, nor husband Jay-Z have confirmed – the singer has named her daughter Tiana May Carter.
Beyoncé is said to have delivered her first child at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, a private facility in New York.
The singer representation – both in the US and the UK- has not been available for comment this afternoon.
A story published yesterday by MediaTakeOut.com claimed that nurses at the hospital were “buzzing” at the news that they might be expecting Beyoncé and Jay Z.
The hospital has made no official comment.
The baby suite apparently reserved by Beyoné and Jay Z is reportedly equipped to deliver three babies and sleep 12 people.
Internet rumors claim that Beyoncé has given birth to a baby girl in New York
Friend and fellow singer Alicia Keys gave birth to her son Egypt at the same hospital back in 2010.
Twitter has been abuzz with gossip and congratulations in relation to the birth rumors.
Director and choreographer Adam Shankman tweeted: “Not meaning to start anything…but…did Beyonce have her baby?!? Just heard a bit on the radio… Is it true?”
Some are treating the news as certain, and have offered their blessing.
One user wrote: “Congrats to Beyonce & Jay Z on new baby girl Tiana-May Carter.”
Beyoncé has still never tweeted from her own account, which boasts 2,259,656 followers.
The report that Beyoncé has given birth has been picked up by The Mirror, Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, Yahoo, Music News.com, and Allhiphop.com among others.
Beyoncé has spent the bulk of the last few months in New York, which is understandable if she has been expecting her new arrival around the New Year.
The appearance of the Beyoncé’s mother Tina, 57, sister Solange, 25, and nephew Julez in the city in recent days has added weight to the reports that the birth was imminent.
Designer Tina and sister Solange were spotted leaving vintage store Stella Dallas in New York City this week.
Beyoncé lives in a multi-million pound penthouse apartment in the city with rapper husband Jay Z.
Though initially there was suggestion that Beyoncé was due in early February, more recently it was indicated that she would be reaching the nine month mark around the New Year.
In a clip from her Live at Roseland DVD, screened in November, Beyoncé said: “Hello! It’s September 23rd … Right now I’m actually shooting the video for <<Countdown>> and I’m six months pregnant, pretending that my stomach is flat in body suits.”
Beyoncé concealed her pregnancy for months before revealing her baby bump at the MTV Music Awards in August.
In October the star sparked rumors that she was wearing a prosthetic belly after her stomach appeared to collapse as she sat down during a live TV appearance in Australia.