Rupert Murdoch has labelled victims of phone hacking "scumbag celebrities" after they met the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, during the Conservative party conference.
Mr Murdoch took to Twitter to criticise the talks in Birmingham between Mr Cameron and members of the Hacked Off campaign, the singer Charlotte Church, actor Hugh Grant and a former TV presenter, Jacqui Hames.
Murdoch tweeted: "Told UK's Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad."
The comments sparked a storm of disapproval, with Mr Murdoch repeatedly asked to apologise for the remarks and remove the tweets. Hames hit back at the head of News Corporation, tweeting: "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh Rupert. Happy to discuss our concerns with you sometime?" She added: "I've been called worse, but admittedly not by CEO of large multinational corp." Mr Murdoch replied to Hames: "Not referring to these ladies".
Thais Portilho-Shrimpton, a journalist and former co-ordinator of the Hacked Off campaign, tweeted that she had set up a meeting "between PM, a former Crimewatch presenter, a singer and an actor", adding: "You must be referring to all".
The former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris tweeted: "By 'scumbag celebs' do u mean the WPC u put under surveillance, the teen girl yr papers perved over, or the actor u hacked?". He accused Mr Murdoch of being disingenuous and hypocritical. "I was at meeting & unlike yr secret meetngs w/ PMs promoting yr business, the victims went in front door & told media abt it."
Mr Murdoch also engaged with another Twitter user who said: "Scumbags"? And your journalists and executives are what?".
Mr Murdoch replied: "They don't get arrested for indecency on major LA highways! Or abandon love child's".
Guardian News & Media