Cameron and Osborne meetings with media bosses have returned to pre-Leveson level

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David Cameron and George Osborne are now meeting journalism industry bosses as frequently as before the hacking scandal broke in July 2011, research by Press Gazette suggests.

Following the closure of the News of the World, and the subsequent Leveson Inquiry, Cameron's close relationship with senior figures at News International (now News UK) came under particular scrutiny.

According to their registers of meetings, in the year to September 2015, Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Osborne recorded 23 formal encounters with non-editorial media executives and owners.

This is higher than in any of the preceding four years, according to Press Gazette research.

Of the 23 meetings between October 2014 and September 2015, eight were with News Corporation executives, five with the BBC or BBC Trust and four with Telegraph Media Group.

Over the five-year period, Cameron and Osborne have between them met News Corporation executives on 24 occasions: seven in 2010/11, none in 2011/12, the period during which the Leveson Inquiry took place, three in 2012/13 and six in 2013/14.

During the first period, Cameron recorded six of the seven meetings, including four of which were categorised as "social".

In the last period, Osborne recorded the most News Corp meetings – six, including five involving the company's controlling shareholder Rupert Murdoch.

Combined meetings with Telegraph executives and owners have remained fairly steady throughout the period: five in 2010/11, two in 2011/12, eight in 2012/13 – including two relating to wider Leveson discussions – four in 2013/14 and four in 2014/15.

Meetings with BBC bosses, meanwhile, have seen the biggest increase, with the Royal Charter renewal due to be completed this year. Cameron and Osborne recorded no meetings with BBC executives in 2010/11, two in 2011/12, one in 2012/13, three in 2013/14 and five in the last period, making 11 in total.

Over the five years, the Prime Minister and Chancellor recorded the same number of meetings – 11 – with bosses from ESI Media, which publishes the Evening Standard and Independent. Ten of these were with owner Evgeny Lebedev, and one with his father, Alexander.

Evgeny Lebedev – who met Cameron for drinks on 9 May last year, shortly after his general election win – was the second most popular media boss for meetings, behind Telegraph chief executive Murdoch MacLennan who met the pair 12 times.

Rupert Murdoch has enjoyed nine meetings with Osborne, including two dinners and three lunches, and none with Cameron.

Elsewhere, Telegraph chairman Aidan Barclay met the pair on eight occasions and BBC director general Tony Hall on seven.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson met them on six occasions, while Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch on five occasions each.

Prime Minister and Chancellor meetings with media bosses

  Oct 10 – Sep 11 Oct 11 – Sep 12 Oct 12 – Sep 13 Oct 13 – Sep 14 Oct 14 – Sep 15
David Cameron 13 5 8 5 10
George Osborne 7 2 6 12 13
Total 20 7 14 17 23

Meetings by media group

  Oct 10 – Sep 11 Oct 11 – Sep 12 Oct 12 – Sep 13 Oct 13 – Sep 14 Oct 14 – Sep 15 Total
News Corp 7 0 3 6 8 24
Telegraph Media Group 5 2 8 4 4 23
BBC 0 2 1 3 5 11
Standard/Independent 3 3 1 2 2 11
Express Newspapers 2 0 0 1 1 4
Trinity Mirror 2 0 0 0 0 2
Spectator 1 0 0 0 1 2
Guardian News and Media 0 0 1 0 0 1
DMGT 0 0 0 0 1 1
Total 20 7 14 16 22 79

David Cameron's media boss meetings*

2010/11

  • October 2010: Murdoch MacLennan (with Tony Gallagher), Telegraph Media Group chief executive, at Conservative Party conference
  • October 2010: Rebekah Brooks (with Dominic Mohan), News International chief executive, at Conservative Party conference
  • October 2010: Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror chief executive, at Conservative Party conference
  • October 2010: Rebekah Brooks, social
  • November 2010: James Murdoch, News International chairman and BSkyB chairman, social
  • November 2010: Aidan Barclay, Telegraph Media Group chairman, general discussion
  • December 2010: Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch, social
  • December 2010: Rebekah Brooks, social
  • January 2011: Evgeny Lebedev, Independent and Evening Standard owner, general discussion
  • March 2011: Sly Bailey (with editors), general discussion
  • April 2011: Murdoch MacLennan (with Tony Gallagher), general discussion
  • April 2011: Richard Desmond (with Hugh Whittow), Express Newspapers chairman and owner, general discussion
  • June 2011: Times CEO summit, speech

2011/12

  • October 2011: Mark Thompson, BBC director general, tour of BBC Salford
  • March 2012: Murdoch MacLennan (with Tony Gallagher and Ian MacGregor), lunch
  • April 2012: Rhodri Talfan Davies (with deputy head of BBC Wales News), BBC Cymru Wales director, tour of newsroom
  • May 2012: Alexander Lebedev, Independent and Evening Standard owner, general discussion
  • September 2012: Evgeny Lebedev, general discussion

2012/13

  • October 2012: Derek Gannon, chief operating officer and Guardian News and Media, Diana Awards
  • October 2012: Murdoch MacLennan (with Tony Gallagher and Ian MacGregor), general discussion
  • December 2012: Guy Black (with various editors), Telegraph executive director, discussion on Leveson implementation
  • February 2013: Murdoch MacLennan, Guy Black (with John Witherow and Lionel Barber), to discuss Leveson Report
  • April 2013: Aidan Barclay, general discussion
  • May 2013: Tony Hall, BBC director general, introductory meeting
  • August 2013: Evgeny Lebedev, dinner
  • September 2013: Murdoch MacLennan (with Tony Gallagher and Ian MacGregor), general discussion

2013/14

  • October 2013: Richard Desmond, general discussion
  • November 2013: Sir David Barclay, Telegraph owner, dinner
  • May 2014: Aidan Barclay, general discussion
  • June 2014: Tony Hall, general discussion
  • August 2014: Rona Fairhead, BBC Trust chairman, general discussion

2014/15

  • October 2014: Lord Rothermere (with Paul Dacre), chairman and owner of Daily Mail and General Trust, dinner
  • October 2014: Aidan Barclay (with Fizzy Barclay), dinner
  • January 2015: Richard Desmond, general discussion
  • January 2015: Aidan Barclay, general discussion
  • February 2015: Robert Thomson, News Corporation chief executive, general discussion
  • February 2015: Nadim Hanif (with others), Asian Express managing director, Asian Business Development Network Roundtable
  • March 2015: Rona Fairhead, general discussion
  • May 2015: Evgeny Lebedev, drinks
  • July 2015: Robert Thomson, general discussion
  • September 2015: Tony Hall, general discussion

George Osborne's media boss meetings*

2010/11

  • January 2011: Evgeny Lebedev, general discussion
  • February 2011: Richard Desmond, general discussion
  • February 2011: Murdoch MacLennan (and Tony Gallagher and Ian MacGregor), general discussion
  • March 2011: Evgeny Lebedev, general discussion
  • March 2011: Andrew Neil, Press Holdings Media Group (Spectator owner) chairman, general discussion
  • April 2011: Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch, general discussion
  • June 2011: Aidan Barclay, general discussion

2011/12

  • October 2011: Murdoch MacLennan (and Tony Gallagher and Ian MacGregor), general discussion
  • June 2012: Evgeny Lebedev, general discussion

2012/13

  • January 2013: Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation owner, dinner
  • January 2013: James Murdoch, breakfast
  • July 2013: Murdoch MacLennan, general discussion
  • July 2013: Robert Thomson, general discussion
  • July 2013: Guy Black, general discussion
  • September 2013: Murdoch MacLennan (and Tony Gallager), general discussion

2013/14

  • December 2013: Rupert Murdoch, general discussion
  • December 2013: James Murdoch, general discussion
  • February 2014: Lachlan Murdoch, News Corporation director (listed under Network Ten, where he was non-executive chairman), dinner
  • March 2014: Evgeny Lebedev, reception
  • March 2014: Robert Thomson, general discussion
  • May 2014: Tony Hall and James Purnell, BBC director of strategy and digital, general discussion
  • June 2014: Evgeny Lebedev, lunch
  • June 2014: Rupert Murdoch, lunch
  • June 2014: Mathias Döpfner, Axel Springer chief executive, to discuss Anglo-German trade
  • July 2014: Aidan Barclay, general discussion
  • September 2014: Rupert Murdoch, lunch
  • September 2014: Murdoch MacLennan (and Chris Evans), dinner and drinks

2014/15

  • January 2015: Andrew Neil, general discussion
  • February 2015: Rupert Murdoch, lunch
  • February 2015: Evgeny Lebedev, general discussion
  • May 2015: Robert Thomson, lunch
  • June 2015: Rupert Murdoch, general discussion
  • June 2015: Tony Hall, general discussion
  • June 2015: Rupert Murdoch, general discussion
  • July 2015: Tony Hall, to discuss broadcasting
  • September 2015: Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thomson, dinner
  • September 2015: Aidan Barclay, dinner
  • September 2015: Tony Hall, general discussion
  • September 2015: Murdoch MacLennan, general discussion
  • September 2015: Rupert Murdoch, general discussion

*These meetings have been disclosed by the Cabinet Office and Treasury. Over this period, Cameron and Osborne also recorded meetings with editors and journalists but these do not form part of this count. In addition, many of the meetings recorded do not specify which representatives from the media organisations were present. Therefore, these have not been counted with the exception of Cameron's June 2011 speech delivered at a Times CEO meeting. Please contact pged@pressgazette.co.uk for any queries.

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