Boris Johnson attempted to conceal a third meeting with News International, Political Scrapbook can reveal. After secret contacts with Rupert Murdoch and other senior executives, the failure to declare a lunch with James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will inevitably lead to accusations of a systematic cover-up.
The “working lunch” to discuss “commercial arrangements” on 20 May 2011 was:
- Not declared in the register of hospitality
- Not declared in the mayor’s report to the Assembly
- Not declared in Boris’ expenses
As with the two concealed meetings in January 2011 — conducted as the police force for which Boris has official responsibility was about to launch a probe into News International — the details were sneaked out onto an obscure section of the City Hall website months after they took place.
City Hall spinners have offered Scrapbook the explanation that the meeting was not declared because the lunch was below the hospitality threshold of £25 and was “commercially sensitive”.
- Where does James Murdoch eat that costs less than £25 a head?
- If the meeting was “commercially sensitive” then why was it later disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act — there is an exemption for that.
In addition to being offered a column in The Times just before the Metropolitan Police began Operation Weeting, an inspection of Boris’ output as a writer offers further possible motive for his protective attitude towards Uncle Rupert.
Every single one of his books was published by … News Corporation.
- Friends, Voters, Countrymen (HarperCollins, 2001)
- Lend Me Your Ears (HarperCollins, 2003)
- Seventy-Two Virgins (HarperCollins, 2004)
- The Dream of Rome (HarperCollins, 2006)
- Have I Got Views For You (HarperPerennial, 2006)
- Life in the Fast Lane: The Johnson Guide to Cars (HarperPerennial, 2007)
- The Perils of the Pushy Parents: A Cautionary Tale (HarperPress 2007)
- Johnson’s Life of London (HarperPress 2011)