Phone Hacking Scandal: London Mayor Discloses More Interactions With News Corp. Brass

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LONDON - London mayor Boris Johnson has come under pressure to provide evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and standards here after being forced to publish his schedule that listed several previously undisclosed conversations with News International executives at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, the Guardian reported Saturday night.

The conversations included exchanges with Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of the News Corp. unit, and James Murdoch, the son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.

The news brought concerns that Johnson, who as mayor oversees the London Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard, may have had a cosy relationship with News Corp. executives.

Two of the conversations came just days after Johnson had spoken to the then-assistant commissioner of the London police department, who oversaw a failed original hacking probe.

A spokesman for Johnson told the paper that the conversations had not been made public before because they were commercially sensitive or outside the range of freedom of information requests.

The Johnson spokesman also denied that he passed on any sensitive information to News International executives or even discussing the topic of phone hacking with them. "He has frequently and resolutely refuted any suggestion that, had he been in possession of sensitive information at the time of any meeting or conversation with News International about other issues, he would have shared this with these parties," he said.

Johnson has tried for close to a year and a half to keep his agenda private, but the British information commissioner forced him to disclose it to the London edition of the BBC's Sunday Politics show, which the Guardian said would disclose further details.

The paper reported that the mayor's schedule also showed two face-to-face meetings that weren't publicly known so far. One was with Fred Michel, a News Corp. lobbyist, and the other with Brooks' husband Charlie who went to school with Johnson.

The leader of the Labour Party in the London city assembly, Len Duvall, called for Johnson to come clean on what he discussed with the News Corp. executives.

"There is no other pattern at this time of meetings with journalists or lobbyists from other firms," he said. "The mayor has serious questions to answer."

 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai
 

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