Saturday, July 30, 2011

#Hackgate: #Miliband 'went to News International parties'

Miliband 'went to News International parties'
The Independent
By Sam Lister
Saturday, 30 July 2011

Labour leader Ed Miliband attended a string of News International parties and held talks with former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, records released today showed.

Mr Miliband also had a series of meetings with the editors of the News of the World and the Sun, Labour confirmed.

The party leader met Mrs Brooks, who was forced to quit two weeks ago over the phone hacking scandal, on September 15 for a "general discussion".

Sun editor Dominic Mohan was also at the London meeting but held separate discussions with Mr Miliband in February as well as at Labour's party conference last autumn.

Mr Miliband attended the News International annual summer reception in 2010 and this year as well as the organisation's party at the Labour conference.

Two days before it emerged the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked by a private investigator working for the News of the World, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander attended a social event in the Cotswolds with Mrs Brooks and Mr Hinton as well as Richard Wallace from the Daily Mirror.

The party was hosted by Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth and her husband Matthew Freud in Burford on Saturday, July 2.

Mr Alexander also met the couple in London at a "social" event on December 20, the document reveals.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward met Mrs Brooks on Boxing Day. It emerged earlier this month that Prime Minister David Cameron, who succeed Mr Woodward as MP for Witney after he quit the Tories and defected to Labour, also had a social engagement with Mrs Brooks on December 26.

Mr Woodward also met up with Mrs Brooks in France on June 11 this year and visited Mr Hinton on October 9 in the United States of America.

Tessa Jowell, shadow Olympics minister, also attended the party although she declared the date as July 3. The bash, held at Burford Priory, reportedly started on Saturday evening and continued until noon the next day.

Ms Jowell also met the couple at social events in London and Oxfordshire on December 1, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

Ed Miliband had previously released a list of the meetings he had held since taking the top job last September but today's records date back to May and cover all the party's senior politicians.

They show Mr Miliband has attended more than 50 meetings or receptions with proprietors, editors and senior media executives, including senior figures from the BBC, ITV, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Observer, The Times and The Guardian.

It follows the release by Government of all ministerial contacts with senior media executives. That showed Chancellor George Osborne had met executives of News Corporation companies on 16 occasions since the coalition Government took power.

It also emerged that News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch was the first senior media figure to meet Jeremy Hunt after he was appointed Culture Secretary in May last year - though this was before Mr Hunt was given responsibility for deciding on the failed BSkyB bid. PA