Boris Johnson, drunk on the power of being London Mayor at the time of our Games, looks set to test his new-found popularity to the max with a red carpet invite to Rupert Murdoch – yes, Rupert Murdoch – as his personal guest at the Olympic swimming this Friday.
Boris has long been a huge admirer of the Digger – defending to the hilt News International over phone-hacking, describing the initial allegations as “a politically motivated put up job” and “a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party”, saying:
“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 [Andy Coulson].”
“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.”
More recently, he said too many officers are “tying up their time” on phone hacking, that he wants “the caravan to move one” and “Let’s knock it on the head as fast as we can”.
There is also the small matter of his recent cover-up of a secret dinner with Rupert Murdoch: He dined with him at his London home two days before the Met launched Operation Weeting – a meeting he tried to keep secret from London Assembly members; journalists were told his meetings were in an online diary – but Boris Johnson’s dinner at Murdoch’s home was not disclosed, with the details then hidden in an obscure area of City Hall website.
As the Guardian reports, news of Friday’s Murdoch invite is unlikely to have been greeted with delight by Downing Street, and was seized upon by opponents of the Mayor:
But the decision of Johnson, who in his role as mayor has oversight of Scotland Yard, to “schmooze” the News International proprietor while a Metropolitan police investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal involving the company is still under way, provoked dismay among his political opponents.
Jenny Jones, a green party member of the London assembly who sits on the police and crime committee, said inviting Murdoch was “inappropriate” and showed “appalling judgment”.
Jones said: “Johnson seems to think he can get away with anything but there is always a step too far and this could be it. Most people will be appalled that he has taken someone who heads up a company that is currently involved in a criminal investigation.”
Since the full scale of phone hacking at News International came to light, he has steadfastly refused to condemn Murdoch.
“Codswallop”, cover-ups and non-condemnation, hardly the leadership London, nay Britain, needs - especially with Coulson, Brooks and the rest facing trial.