Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has testified that there is "inevitably" going to be "close interaction" between top politicians and senior media figures.
"That has always been the case and that will always be the case," said Blair during questioning on Monday by the Leveson inquiry into media ethics set up to deal with the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Blair, who served as prime minister between 1997 and 2007, is godfather to one of the powerful News Corp executive chairman's children and his former government has been described by several colleagues as being too close to Murdoch and his media empire.
"It'd be strange ... if senior politicians and senior journalists didn't have those interactions," Blair told the Leveson inquiry.
Blair's appearance kicked off an important week at the inquiry.
Several senior politicians have appeared at the investigation set up last year following a phone-hacking scandal when it emerged that reporters at the Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid had routinely hacked into the phones of public figure and crime victims.
Lord Justice Brian Leveson is examining whether politicians failed to curb the activities of the rogue newspaper because they were too close - or too scared - to cross the country's media.
Current ministers including Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Education Minister Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May are also scheduled to appear this week.