Boris Johnson in hot water after another Murdoch meeting

Jan 28, 2013

London mayor's dinner with media mogul labeled 'totally inappropriate', but City Hall won't comment

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Boris Johnson

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.

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One of the biggest mistakes in recent political history was the reelection of the buffoon Boris Johnson as mayor of London, one of the world's most influential cities. I am still trying to work out what his attraction was. One could expect more of the same foot in mouth reckless behaviour during his tenure. As much as I am not at all keen on Cameron, he would sound the deatth knell of the Conservative party were he to become its leader as loose talk suggests he might.

Hello (again) Yolande - it might just be that Boris is not quite the buffoon that people have been led to believe - he is spontaneous and has an infectious air of "can do" about him (rather justified, don't you think?).

Granted, I think that his political judgement is somewhat "iffy" at times (and I DO think that this might have been one of those times!!) - but he has grown into the job of London Mayor and, happily, foreign governments are now sitting up to take notice of him.

Winston Churchill was a "bull in a china shop" on many occasions - not least in his dealings as First Lord of the Admiralty in WW 1 - yet the nation forgave him and hailed his return to lead the nation soon after the outbreak of WW2 (witness the naivety of some our our more "stable" and conventional" politicians, such as the arch appeaser Neville Chamberlain and the despicable Lord Halifax, who wanted to surrender to Hitler when things got rather sticky); Boris is of a different mold from Cameron and his floppy-haired public school boys - and refreshingly so.