Matthew Freud, husband of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elizabeth, is said to run “what may be the most powerful PR firm in Great Britain” in a nine-page article in the Dec. 10 New Yorker by Ken Auletta.


The article is mostly about Elizabeth Murdoch, who is touted as the possible successor to Rupert as head of the News Corp. empire.

She is a major business figure herself, having founded the TV production company Shine and having sold the 800-employee firm to News Corp. for $670 million in 2011. News Corp. shareholders claimed “rampant nepotism” and filed suit charging that News Corp. overpaid.

Freud, enraged at such press criticisms, threw a Martini in the face of London Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig who said as much, according to Auletta’s article.

As another example of Freud’s “volatile temper,” Auletta says Freud smeared a piece of chocolate cake on actor Hugh Grant’s shirt at a nightclub and Grant responded by punching Freud in the eye.

Freud Communications is described as having nearly 300 employees by Auletta, but PR Week/U.K. reports it had 188 staffers and 23.8 million U.K. pounds in fee income in 2010.

Freud opened offices in New York and Los Angeles but closed them by 2009. His Murdoch connections did not work as well in the U.S., said Auletta sources.

Great Grandson of Sigmund Freud

He is the great grandson of Sigmund Freud and is doubly related to PR figure Edward Bernays. Bernays’ father was Sigmund Freud’s brother-in-law and his mother was Sigmund Freud’s sister.

Freud is said to have sold his firm to “an advertising agency” in 1994 for $19 million but then bought it back in 2001. In 2005 he sold more than 50% to Publicis but bought it back again in 2011.

Olivier Fleurot, CEO of the MSL Group at Publicis, is quoted a saying “What makes him successful in London are his amazing connections in business and politics, being a Murdoch son-in-aw, being close to Murdoch’s newspapers, and being Sigmund Freud’s grandson … it didn’t work in New York.”

Parties Are Over

Auletta says Freud threw many lavish parties to which major business and political figures were invited but such parties are a thing of the past now because of the hacking scandal that hangs over News Corp.

Eighty-seven people, including many News Corp. employees, have been arrested and former executive Rebekah Brooks is to go on trial on hacking charges next September.

Personal telephone calls intercepted included those of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, a kidnap victim who was murdered in 2002.

A 121-page report by a Parliamentary committee said Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to head an international company.

Auletta’s article notes that Elizabeth Murdoch only speaks to the press “on rare occasions” and that the arrangements are often made by Freud.

When Jane Martinson of the Guardian asked questions that displeased Freud, he yelled at her and “implied that it was the last interview he would set up for her,” writes Aulettta.