Osborne met News Corp chiefs 16 times

Wed, Jul 27, 2011, 01:00

BRITISH CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer George Osborne has met senior News Corporation executives 16 times since he took office, including one meeting that took place after a Conservative minister was put in charge of deciding on the company’s bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The information was contained in a long list of contacts between British government ministers and News Corporation and its UK subsidiary, News International, published yesterday on the orders of prime minister David Cameron.

Last night, Mr Osborne’s spokesman said the BSkyB takeover bid had been raised at one meeting while Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable was in charge of deciding on the issue, but was not raised again after Mr Osborne made it clear he had no role in the matter.

Mr Osborne met Rupert Murdoch twice since May 2010 – with former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and News Corp’s deputy chief executive James Murdoch in April 2011, and with Mr Murdoch jnr’s sister Elizabeth in June 2011.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, who took charge of deciding on the takeover after Mr Cable lost authority over it last December, met James Murdoch twice in January, but he also met businessmen opposing News Corp’s bid.

Meanwhile, a former senior News International lawyer, James Chapman, who appeared to be left with the blame by James Murdoch during his appearance before the Commons culture, media and sport committee, now wants to correct alleged “serious inaccuracies” in Mr Murdoch’s testimony.

However, committee chairman John Whittingdale, a Conservative MP, said he had not heard from Mr Chapman.

Meanwhile Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily Mirror, the S unday Mirrorand 160 regional British titles, has announced a review of editorial controls but denies this amounts to an internal investigation into hacking claims.

A six-week review is to be carried by the company’s top lawyer, who will report in mid-September.