Leveson: Who's Meeting Who Ahead Of The Media Inquiry Reporting?

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The editor of The Times has been unusually busy recently.

"I have been in and out of Westminster to discuss the likely outcome of the Leveson Inquiry," James Harding wrote on Tuesday. "I have found myself in separate meetings with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition, the culture secretary and the shadow culture secretary."

In his 1,357 word plea to retain press freedom, available outside the paywall, Harding confirms rumours and reports that newspaper editors have been furiously lobbying the government to dismiss any plans for state regulation of the media, if indeed such a measure is recommended by Lord Justice Leveson.

lord leveson

Lord Justice Leveson will publish his report on Thursday

But while Harding is happy to reveal meetings with ministers, departments themselves aren't so keen to disclose details.

Ahead of Leveson reporting on Thursday, The Huffington Post UK asked Number 10, the Cabinet Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Scottish government, Labour, and even Plaid Cymru about meetings they've had with newspaper editors, as well as Lord Hunt, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission and Lord Black, the co-architect of new the proposals for a beefed-up press regulator.

Number 10 refused flat-out saying all the prime minister's meetings were "published on a quarterly basis." They also refused to comment on reports Lord Black has met with the prime minister to advocate for his plans to reform the press at least six times, giving the same response.

The culture department - who deemed to tell The Huffington Post UK that Maria Miller had "met a wide range of parties in recent weeks - including newspaper editors, proprietors, and the victims of hacking" didn't give exact details, instead insisting they published details quarterly.

david cameron

Number 10 said they publish all of David Cameron's meetings quarterly

They failed to respond to questions from The Huffington Post UK about why they have not published any such details since June 2012 - before Miller took up the post.

Other government departments, Number 10, the Cabinet Office and in the Scottish government all maintained they were sufficiently transparent to avoid being transparent in this instance.

A Scottish Government spokesman told The Huffington Post UK: "The Scottish Government proactively publishes details of all meetings between ministers and media proprietors and these will be released in due course. We do not provide a running commentary on ministerial meetings of any kind and the timetable for publication of this information is not linked in any way to the forthcoming Leveson inquiry findings."

A spokesperson from the Cabinet Office said they could not disclose details now, but would publish all meeting data in due course.

As for Lord Black, sources close to him said he would be unlikely to disclose details of private meetings.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has met with both members of the newspaper industry and Hacked Off and has come out pre-emptively in favour of Leveson proposals. Senior Labour sources are said to be outraged over the intensity of the newspaper industry's lobbying of the government.

The only thing we know for sure - because Ed Miliband has written about it - is the Hacked Off group, who campaign against press intrusion, are organising their own meetings ahead of the report with Milly Dowler's father and Madeleine McCann's mother seeing Clegg, Miliband and Cameron last week after PMQs.