Rupert Murdoch met David Cameron at Downing Street twice during BSkyB bid

No 10 admits PM met executives of News Corp and subsidiaries more than all other media groups combined during period

Rupert Murdoch attended No 10 Downing Street for a previously undisclosed second meeting with David Cameron in July 2010 in the period immediately after his company launched the controversial bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The government made the disclosure on Friday night when it published fresh information about hospitality enjoyed by ministers. Murdoch had already been known to have visited No 10 in May after the election, a visit convened by the prime minister to thank the newspaper proprietor for his help during the election. Murdoch admitted in his appearance before the parliamentary media select committee in July that he had visited Cameron in Downing Street, entering by the back door.

The documents show the prime minister met executives of News Corporation or its UK subsidiaries, including News International and News Group Newspapers, more times than all other media groups combined in the period.

James Harding, editor of the Times, met the prime minister twice for "general discussion" in April and June 2011. Dominic Mohan, the Sun editor, met Cameron in May, for the same stated reason.

The prime minister also attended the News International summer party and the separate Times CEO summit in June 2011. During that period, Murdoch was in the final stages of bidding for BSkyB.

News Corporation already owned 39.1% of BSkyB and needed regulatory approval to allow it take a greater stake. The bid collapsed in July in the wake of an intense period of phone-hacking revelations.

After the prime minister's close relationship with the Murdoch family came under scrutiny, Downing Street had to publish the exact scale of the links between Cameron and senior executives at News International.

Those disclosures showed that Rebekah Brooks, who had to resign as chief executive of News International in the wake of the hacking scandal, was the only person Cameron invited twice to Chequers.

James Murdoch was also a guest at the prime minister's official country residence, and Cameron held more than twice the number of meetings with Murdoch executives than with those from any other media organisation.

Cameron attended three parties held by News International and attended five events organised by the company. He met executives from Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail, four times, Guardian Newspapers twice, and the Independent and Standard three times.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, met Harding in April 2011 for "general discussion," the only News International meeting he had in the period.

In April 2011, Cameron met Richard Desmond and Hugh Whittow, the owner and editor of the Daily Express. He dined with Telegraph chief executive Murdoch MacLennan and editor Tony Gallagher on 4 April and ate with Evegeny Lebedev, the owner of the Independent and Evening Standard, on 6 June 2011. He had lunch with Tom Bradby, ITV's political editor, on 15 June 2011.

He also met John Mulholland, the Observer editor, for "general discussion" in April 2011, Lionel Barber, the FT editor, in May, and John Mullin, who edits the Independent on Sunday in April 2011.


Allegra Stratton, Dan Sabbagh and Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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