Responding to reports in the Guardian that both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Mayor of London were guests of Rupert Murdoch at a dinner last Tuesday, the same day that a senior Sun journalist was charged with bribing a Met Police officer, Professor Brian Cathcart, Director of Hacked Off, said:
There is a breathtaking arrogance in the idea that senior Conservative figures can keep up close connections with Rupert Murdoch at the very time that the Government is meddling with the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson and the police are investigating Mr Murdoch’s company.
It is of a piece with Cameron’s readiness to meet Rebekah Brooks even as she awaits trial.
I wonder whether they were ever intending the public to find out about this.
You have to ask George Osborne and Boris Johnson what they think they were doing, dining privately with Mr Murdoch on the very day that a senior Sun journalist was charged with bribing a policeman. The Mayor is in charge of oversight of the Met Police. The Met are investigating allegations of a far-reaching criminal conspiracy at companies run by Rupert Murdoch. It is hard to think of a more inappropriate invitation for the Chancellor and the Mayor to accept than Mr Murdoch’s dinner party.
Equally worrying is the attempt to conceal the event from the public. Politicians have been far too close to newspaper proprietors for too long. As Lord Justice Leveson recommended, they should be completely open about any contacts so that we can all have confidence that they are acting in the public interest, and not in the interests of press barons.