News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch personally told one of his former tabloid editors to have someone followed, according to a documentary that aired Monday night on Australian TV.

Ita Buttrose, former editor-in-chief of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, told ABC’s Australian Story that Murdoch instructed her to have a subject tailed because legitimate reporting techniques were not producing the desired results.

“I assigned a reporter to do it but [Murdoch] wasn’t happy with the result and said, ‘No, that wasn’t good enough. Have you followed this person?’” she recalled.

“I can’t give this instruction,” Buttrose later told then-News Limited chief executive Ken Cowley. “I’m not having anybody that works for me, for whom I’m responsible, follow anybody. I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Murdoch’s Australian-based News Limited vehemently denied the accusation.

“Mr. Murdoch has never asked any journalist to do anything improper,” a spokesman said.

“Mr. Cowley has never been asked by Mr. Murdoch to have a reporter conduct surveillance of any kind on any individual and nor would he have agreed to it had he been asked by Mr Murdoch or anyone else,” he added.

Buttrose said that in the end, the matter was “dropped.”

“If you run a newspaper there’s a responsibility that goes with it, and sometimes you have to be able to say to the boss, no, I don’t think we should go down this path.”

Watch this video from ABC’s This Week, broadcast Aug. 21, 2011.

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