In tense exchanges with Labour assembly member Len Duvall at Mayor’s Question Time this afternoon, Boris Johnson struggled to play down the significance of a string of meetings with News International brought to light by Political Scrapbook — leaving numerous key questions unanswered.
Official confirmation emerged late yesterday that Boris had kept News International meetings hidden for eleven months — a tacit admission that Boris’ administration had lied to journalists who had asked about such appointments last summer.
The mayor was unable to explain whether or not he knew about the police’s investigation into phone hacking, Operation Weeting, at the time he met with key executives from the organisation targeted by the Met Police — including an engagement at Rupert Murdoch’s London home.
And having previously trotted out numerous implausible excuses for not declaring the meetings, Boris couldn’t manage to get his story straight. The mayor described a meeting with Rebekah Brooks as a “private lunch” — but then volunteered that he had used the meeting to discuss mayoral business:
“I think I probably discussed … the great success of our administration in fighting crime, in securing record investment in transport, in preparing London for the greatest Olympics and Paralympic games that have ever been held … I wouldn’t be surprised if I discussed any number of things.”
Asked if he had not appeared before the Leveson inquiry because he knew it would mean having to answer questions under oath, Boris said he felt “insulted and humiliated” that nobody had asked him to testify.
“I have not been invited to give evidence at Leveson, which has been greatly to the detriment of my social standing.”
Perhaps Lord Justice Brian can help elevate his status.