Cameron’s Extra Meeting with Murdoch
I wrote yesterday about Andy Coulson giving details of a private meeting between David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch in New York, which seems to have eluded the PM’s recollection. I encourage you to read that short post.
– The July meeting in question appears to have been issued by number 10 as an “addendum” months after Cameron claimed to have published the complete list. You can find this document here. The July meeting is buried in a single line on the last page (page 10) of the document.
– As far as I can see, neither the press nor the public were made aware of this extra meeting. The original list which claims to be comprehensive – and which the Prime Minister has described as complete several times – has certainly not been updated.
– The date of the document containing the addendum itself is dubious. It purports to be a November 2011 document, but independent investigations by both myself and @cjjmccray, reveal that the document was updated on the cabinet office server as late as April 2012. See here and here. It also displays no “creator” as other docs on the site do. This may be the result of an technical update, but certainly demands explanation.
– More importantly, in response to allegations from Chris Bryant MP two weeks ago that the original list placed in the Commons library was not complete, number 10 denied this aggressively and never once mentioned the addendum.
– When called by speaker John Bercow to appear in front of the House for an Urgent Question about Jeremy Hunt, as recently as eleven days ago (see Hansard for 30th April 2012), the Prime Minister claimed he had met Rupert Murdoch four times during his tenure. Looking at the list Rupert Murdoch submitted to the Leveson Inquiry, it contains four undisputed meetings and two possible ones – one of which is this New York meeting. We now know that this has been confirmed in the addendum. It makes five.
And so, the Prime Minister has a few questions to answer.
1. When did he recall this extra meeting and why was the House of Commons not informed that the list originally placed in the library was incomplete?
2. Precisely when was the addendum added? Why do electronic checks show the document as having been updated as recently as April 2012?
3. Why was the Prime Minister claiming four meetings with Rupert Murdoch as late as 30 April 2012?
4. Are there any more meetings he may have left off the original list?
I’m sure all this may have an innocent explanation. As I have no “press” standing, I cannot pick up the phone to Downing Street and ask for clarification. Those that can, should.
My particular thanks to @cjjmccray who stayed up with me well into the night looking into the IT angle of this.