What Did Michael Gove talk about with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp Executives at their Numerous Meetings?

Allan Beavis's picture
It seems that we were right a few weeks ago to draw attention to the close links between Michael Gove, News International and American-School-Reformer-turned-Murdoch “consigliere” Joel Klein, which we reported on various posts here, here and here.

Figures released today show the full extent of the government’s links with News International . Since the general election just over a year ago, George Osborne, who has expressed ”regret” that he encouraged David Cameron to hire Andy Coulson, has had 16 meetings, including 8 with Rebekah Brooks, 4 with James Murdoch and 2 with Rupert Murdoch. David Cameron has 26 meetings.

Osborne may have had more meetings with News International executives but Education Secretary Michael Gove appears to have had more dinners with Rupert Murdoch . The Education Secretary, a former Times journalist, has notched up 14 meetings with NI over the year. He has met Rebekah Brooks 8 times in the last year – more than the Prime Minister, the Chancellor or the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Gove, who wrote a weekly column for NI from 2005 to 2009 and whose wife has worked for The Times since 1998, had dinner with Rupert Murdoch and “others from NI” as recently as June 26.

Both Osborne and Gove appeared to have kept their figures down by including public meetings that were beyond the formal requirements to register private meetings with proprietors and editors.

A spokesman for Mr Gove said: “He’s known Rupert Murdoch for over a decade. He did not discuss the BSkyB deal with the Murdochs and isn’t at all embarrassed about his meetings, most of which have been about education which is his job.”

One wonders how much education talk can be had with media moguls – it would be interesting to know, in comparison, how many meetings and dinners Gove had with education journalists – without the discussion turning to how Joel Klein’s handling of Murdoch’s ambitious commercial interests in education might be implemented into British schools, especially those, like Free Schools and coalition Charters, which are proudly modelled on the controversial and not overly successful New York Charters pioneered by Mr. Klein.

Critics of the government have claimed that the pace of school reform has been too quick, badly conceived and ill thought through. They may well be wondering, in light of the cosy and seemingly mutually beneficial relationships between Gove and News Corp executives, how much of this was dictated by a genuine zeal to reform state education for the benefit of ordinary children and how much by an agenda planned by Murdoch’s News Corp to start implementing its ideology and commercial interests.

David Cameron’s new rules on transparency were rushed in on the same day as Rebekah Brooks quit, so it would be interesting if a spokesman could answer these questions in order to end any speculation of impropriety in Gove’s dealings with News Corp.
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Adrian Elliott's picture
Wed, 27/07/2011 - 07:17

''He did not discuss the BSkyB deal with the Murdochs and isn't at all embarrassed about his meetings, most of which have been about education, which is his job."

Apparently, we are supposed to be reassured by this comment whereas I feel the opposite.
Just how much influence does Murdoch and his crew have over education poilcy? He's meeting Gove, a former employee, everywhere eight weeks or so whereas he doesn't even know the name of the chief reporter on the NOW.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 27/07/2011 - 11:38

Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Education Secretary, commenting on Michael Gove's meetings with News Corp said:

“It reveals a lot about Michael Gove’s priorities that he has found time to meet with News Corp executives 21 times since he became Education Secretary - including meeting Rupert Murdoch on seven separate occasions - but in his first seven months in the job he didn’t manage to visit a single sixth form college, further education college or special school. It’s clear evidence of a minister who has got his priorities seriously wrong.”


Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 27/07/2011 - 11:59

There is a mismatch between the declaration of interest on the list of Mr Gove’s meetings with media organisations and the declaration on his own website. The latter lists an ongoing contract, worth £60,001-£65,000, with Times Newspapers Limited to supply a set number of articles. If this contract is now over then surely it should be removed from his website?


Melissa Benn's picture
Thu, 28/07/2011 - 09:53

What tickled me about the reports of Gove's numerous contacts with News Corp figures was the phrase he kept appending to his accounts of the meetings ' ..with ten others.' That came up several times in Guardian reports. As if nothing dangerous or untoward could have happened as there was a small crowd in the room! But who were the ten others? And were they the same ten every time? The LSN wants to know!!!!!

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