The relationship between the press and politicians is not always in the public interest, Michael Gove has said.

The Education Secretary told the Leveson Inquiry some journalists and MPs could end up "relying upon each other for confidences which are not shared with the public at an appropriate time".

Mr Gove, a former journalist on The Times, also heaped praise on media mogul Rupert Murdoch, confirming he believed he was a "great man".

The Conservative said the idea the relationship between politician and the press is "poisonous" is an "overstatement" but it could be a "little rough edged".

He added: "It is also the case that there are some politicians and some journalists who develop a close relationship which may not be altogether in the public interest."

Mr Gove said proprietors and executives would "from time to time" attempt to influence ministers but "robust politicians" would listen politely but not bend.

He told the inquiry he had never expressed a view on the News Corporation bid to take full control of BSkyB to his political colleagues.

Asked about Mr Murdoch, he described him as "one of the most significant figures of the last 50 years" and agreed he was a "force of nature, a phenomenon and a great man".

Mr Gove was quizzed about Rupert Murdoch's plan to back a free school - those outside local authority control - in East London, which was later dropped. He added: "I believed that Rupert Murdoch was only interested in establishing a school for purely philanthropic reasons."

The Education Secretary said he was "open minded" about free schools making a profit, unlike some of his Coalition colleagues.