As polling day approaches, Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure to explain the full extent of his relationship with the Murdoch empire – with the Mayor of London losing his rag and swearing on camera when grilled by the BBC today.
Asked by BBC London Political Editor Tim Donovan about revelations he sought commercial sponsorship from Murdoch’s News International – at the same time they were being investigated by the Met (which he controls) – the Tory Mayor raged:
“Stuff Donovan and his f***ing bollocks!”
In the wake of Johnson’s foul-mouthed tirade, the Labour Party tonight released ten crucial questions for the Tory candidate (and his Deputy Mayor for policing Kit Malthouse) to answer, relating to the initial Guardian revelations in July last year of a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World, and the Met’s reviewing of the evidence and conclusion there was no further case to answer.
The questions in full are:
1. During this short period of time, how many conversations did you have with the Commissioner and what was the content of these conversations. Did you ask Kit Malthouse to have any conversations with the Commissioner on your behalf?
2. Was any pressure applied either by you or on your instructions to the Commissioner or any other senior officers not to reopen the inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World?
3. Did you have any contact with the Assistant Commissioner John Yates who was responsible for reviewing the evidence into phone hacking at the News of the World? Did you ask Kit Malthouse to have any conversation with him on your behalf?
On September 1st 2010, as a result of further allegations made by the New York Times, legislators asked the Standards Watchdog at Parliament to begin a new investigation into the hacking allegations at the News of the World and its former editor Andy Coulson.
Later that month members of the London Assembly asked you to re-open the inquiry into phone hacking and you refused saying that the allegations were “codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party” and that he had no intention of looking into them.
On the 30th November you had lunch with James Murdoch, just weeks after you decided not to re-open the investigation.
On the 26th January 2011, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Weeting to investigate the allegations against News of the World.
4. Between the 1st September 2010 and 26th January 2011, how many conversations did you have with the Police Commissioner and senior police officers regarding the allegations against News of the World? Did you instruct Kit Malthouse to have any conversation on your behalf?
5. During this period, did you at any point communicate the fact to senior police officers that you believed the allegations were “codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party” and that you did not want to see the investigation pursued? Did you ask Kit Malthouse to communicate this on your behalf?
6. At what point were you notified that the Metropolitan Police were intending to go ahead with Operation Weeting? Were any attempts made by you, either yourself or through Kit Malthouse or other advisers, to delay these proceedings or prevent this operational decision from being taken?
On the 19th July 2011, the home affairs select committee expressed its concern at the speed of the investigation taking place and the resources available to Sue Akers for the investigation. Before it reported, there were 45 police officers working on the investigation and there are now believed to be 90.
Both the former Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner have stated that after Operation Weeting started Kit Malthouse sought to limit the resources available to the investigation.
7. Did you ask Kit Malthouse to reduce the resources available to Operation Weeting? If not, can you confirm that Kit Malthouse was acting entirely with your knowledge and outside of your authority?
8. Did you have any conversations with the prime minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Home Secretary, or any of their officials about Operation Weeting? Were any of these communicated, via you or Kit Malthouse, to the Commissioner or other senior police officers?
After further allegations emerged against News International in September 2010, you continued commercial discussions with News International, both with regard to setting up a News International Academy at the Royal Victoria Docks and about their potential sponsorship of the cable car crossing the Thames.
On the 30th November, just weeks after further pressure emerged to re-open the investigation into phone hacking, you met with James Murdoch for an informal lunch meeting.
9. During your commercial discussions with News International, was the issue of the police investigation into phone hacking ever discussed? Are you prepared to release all written correspondence, texts and emails to demonstrate that there has been no impropriety?
10. Was the issue of a potential police investigation into phone hacking discussed at your lunch meeting with James Murdoch? Are you prepared to release minutes from this meeting and all emails and texts, both official and personal, between you, James Murdoch and News International to demonstrate that there has been no impropriety?
• JH, BJ and the Murdochs 29 Apr 2012
• Is Jeremy Hunt a “cheerleader” for the Murdochs? 24 Apr 2012
• Just when you thought hackgate couldn’t get any worse… 29 Jul 2011
“I am completely satisfied [with the Met's handling of the allegations].”
“[Labour are raising this] simply in order to score party political points against the prime minister’s press spokesman.”
“I think it looks like a politically motivated put up job.”
“This is completely spurious and political.”
“You are trying to make a song and dance about nothing in my view.”
“This is a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party.”
“As far as I can see, this is something that has been already substantially investigated, where no new and interesting facts have been brought into the public domain and which is being whipped up by the Guardian and the Labour Party.”
“I have every confidence that the police will come to the right conclusion.”
Jeremy Hunt may be the Tory under greatest fire, but both Boris Johnson and David Cameron appear as in with Murdoch as he was, with as many (as yet unanswered) questions to answer.