Michael Gove’s relationship with media baron Rupert Murdoch should be investigated, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has told MPs.
Mr Hislop told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committeethere there were questions to be answered over Mr Gove’s return to The Times as a columnist and book reviewer.
The Have I Got News for You stalwart said: “I think it would be possible to look at Mr Gove’s relationship with Mr Murdoch."
The meeting was scrutinising the role and effectiveness of the Advisory Committee On Business Appointments (ACOBA), which approved Mr Gove’s second job.
The Surrey Heath MP is rejoining his former employer after his stints as justice secretary and education secretary in David Cameron’s cabinet, between 2010 and 2016.
Mr Gove’s apparent fondness for 85-year-old Mr Murdoch was well publicised throughout his years in government.
During the Leveson Inquiry Mr Gove described Mr Murdoch as “one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last 50 years”.
Another insight into their relationship was exposed when a personal email from Mr Gove’s Daily Mail columnist wife, Sarah Vine, discussing whether Mr Murdoch would support his Tory leadership bid, was leaked to the press.
When Mr Hislop was told during the hearing that Mr Gove’s new job had been approved by ACOBA, he said in disbelief: “Already? They’ve approved him?” He followed up his comment by banging on the table and displaying a wry smile.
Bernard Jenkin, committee chair, asked the veteran journalist and author: “Are you seriously suggesting that someone whose profession is journalism should not be allowed to carry on that profession if they are no longer a minister?”
Mr Hislop replied: “Well I sat through the entire proceedings of Leveson in which one of the main points was the closeness of the relationship between senior members of the Conservative party and Mr Murdoch.
“Mr Gove’s had a number of meetings with him (Murdoch) when he was in various departments so I think there is a question there about when you’re in office, which is what we’ve talked about, imagining a future when you might need the generosity of, say, Mr Murdoch to sustain your career and whether that would influence the decisions you’ve made.
“That would be absolutely bang on what we’ve been talking about so far.
“So I think there probably is a question, yeah.”
When asked by a sceptical Mr Jenkin whether Mr Gove could have anticipated being demoted to the backbenches on the morning of the shock Brexit result, he admitted: “Judging by the look on his face on the morning of Brexit, he wasn’t.
“But we’re saying it might have been in the back of his mind.”
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