As the News International contagion spreads, Michael Gove has been conspicuously silent about his links to the Murdoch empire, including a £60,000+ annual contract and his close relationship with the man now charged with mopping up the scandal.
A journalist by trade, Gove held a highly lucrative weekly columnist for The Times until 11 January 2010. Stangely, however, the contract with News International, which effectively doubled his standard MP pay packet, remained on the books for at least nine months and into Gove’s tenure as a cabinet minister before it was finally removed from the register of members’ interests on 28 March 2011.
Gove is contracted with Murdoch owned Harper Collins to write a biography of Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, and his wife remains Beauty Editor of The Times.
Interest is also growing into his relationship with the man heading up News Corporation’s new standards committee, Joel Klein.
Many of Gove’s ideas for his free schools pet project have been borrowed from Klein, a former chancellor of the New York City school system. He came to the UK in January at Gove’s invitation to speak at the government’s Free Schools Conference, and to visit the King Solomon academy, run by a potential free schools operator.
At the conference, Klein gushed about his pal:
“This country is so lucky to have a man with Michael’s vision and commitment … In my world that makes you a hero, my friend.”
Klein stepped down from his position as schools Chancellor last year, walking straight into a $2m a year job as CEO of News Corporation’s education division. Last month, News Corp were awarded a $27m bid-free contract by the state of New York to develop software to track student test scores.
Klein has, in recent days been brought into Rupert Murdoch’s inner circle, to offer guidance on the phone hacking scandal. Murdoch has formed a “management and standards committee” to fight the crisis, which will report directly to Klein.
A figurehead of the free schools movement, Klein used his time at New York city hall to end teacher tenure and close more than 100 public schools. He and Mayor Michael Bloomberg replaced them with a free market system of charter schools, outside of public control and with selective admissions processes.