Boris Johnson’s links to News International came under fresh scrutiny today after it emerged he had an undeclared dinner with Rupert Murdoch days before the Metropolitan Police launched a new inquiry into phone hacking.
The Mayor of London met Mr Murdoch at his home in London on 24 January 2011, at a key time in the growing pressure on Mr Murdoch’s British newspapers.
It took place three days after the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigned from Downing Street and two days before the Met opened Operation Weeting into illegal voicemail interception.
Mr Johnson, whose responsibilities include policing and who previously chaired the Metropolitan Police Authority, had previously insisted that he had declared all his meetings with News International, saying on 23 May: “My meetings with News International have already been made public.”
Mr Murdoch is chief executive and chairman of News Corp, which owns News International, publisher of the Sun, Times and Sunday Times and the now-closed News of the World.
Mr Johnson’s links with the Murdoch empire have already been the subject of controversy because in September 2010 he dismissed calls for London’s police force to re-open its botched investigation into hacking he as “codswallop.”
At the time Mr Johnson, whose Conservative mayoralty enjoys the political support of News International’s newspapers, was hoping the company would sponsor a new school and a cable car scheme in London.