Cabinet ministers' access to Murdoch family exposed


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The Independent Online

The extraordinary access granted by Cabinet ministers to Rupert Murdoch and his children has been revealed for the first time, with more than two dozen private meetings between the family and senior members of the Government in the 15 months since David Cameron entered Downing Street. In total, Cabinet ministers have met with Murdoch executives more than 60 times.

On three occasions James Murdoch was given confidential defence briefings on Afghanistan and Britain's strategic defence review by the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, including on one occasion with Rupert Murdoch. The Chancellor, George Osborne, has had 16 meetings since May 2010 with News International editors and executives, including two with the Murdochs within just a month of taking office. He also invited Elisabeth Murdoch to his 40th birthday party last month.

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, dined with Rupert Murdoch within days of the Government coming to power, and after being given quasi-judicial oversight for the Murdochs' £8bn attempted takeover of BSkyB had two meetings with James Murdoch in which they discussed the takeover. Mr Hunt said last night that these were legitimate as part of the bid process.

The minister who sees Rupert Murdoch most frequently is Education Secretary, Michael Gove, a former News International employee. Mr Gove has seen the mogul for breakfast, lunch or dinner on six occasions since May. He has had 12 meetings with Murdoch executives since becoming a minister.