Boris Johnson in hot water after another Murdoch meeting
London mayor's dinner with media mogul labeled 'totally inappropriate', but City Hall won't comment
BORIS JOHNSON'S close ties with Rupert Murdoch have landed him in hot water again after it was revealed the London mayor attended an event at the News Corp chairman's home in Mayfair last week.
The meeting between Murdoch, whose papers are still recovering from the phone hacking scandal, and Johnson, whose mayoral responsibilities include policing, was described by critics as "totally inappropriate".
City Hall declined to comment on the Tuesday evening event saying it was a "private engagement". The response infuriated the phone hacking pressure group Hacked Off, whose spokesman said it "beggars belief" that anyone could describe a meeting between the head of News Corp and "the most powerful politician in London", attended by Murdoch editors and guests including Homeland actor Damian Lewis, as a "private arrangement".
Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group at the London Assembly, said it was "ludicrous" that Johnson believed he could meet Murdoch in a "private capacity".
The Observer says the Murdoch dinner is the "latest sign of the growing intimacy" between the media mogul and a politician who is considered a rival to David Cameron for the leadership of the Conservative Party. It is at least the second time in six months that Murdoch has met the mayor and the paper says it illustrates that Murdoch is "as keen as ever on nurturing his political contacts in the UK", despite the heavy criticism he received during the Leveson Inquiry.
The Daily Express points out that Johnson has never "shied away" from his close links with the most senior member of the Murdoch clan. In August last year he was widely criticised for inviting Rupert and his wife, Wendi Deng, to the Olympic Games 800 metre final as his personal guests.
Johnson was also forced to defend himself when it was revealed in June last year he had met Rupert Murdoch on 24 January, two days before the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Weeting. The Independent says it was a "key time" as pressure was mounting on Murdoch's British papers over their use of illegal phone intercepts to obtain stories.
Johnson told the BBC he had not discussed phone hacking at that meeting or another he held on 14 January with Rebekah Brooks, one of News International's top executives who has since been charged over alleged payments to police and public officials.
"I think that it is my job to talk to proprietors, to talk to the BBC, to talk to journalists and get our points out", he told the BBC at the time.