Labour has demanded to know whether George Osborne met with Rupert Murdoch during the period in which dramatic cuts to the BBC were revealed. Earlier this month, the chancellor announced that the £650 million-a-year cost of providing free TV licences to over 75s would no longer be covered by the treasury, and would have to be met by the Corporation.
On Friday, The Independent reported that a meeting took place between Osborne and News Corp boss Murdoch before the plan was revealed to BBC director general Lord Hall.
According to the Independent, the Chancellor is alleged to have met Murdoch at Downing Street in late June.
Labour has written to Osborne to ask him to fast-track the release of his meetings since May's general election. In the letter, shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant said: "I am writing to ask for a list (with dates) of all meetings, correspondence or phone calls you have had with Rupert Murdoch since the election, along with notes of what was discussed in those conversations.
He added: "I will also be sending a Freedom of Information Act request to the Treasury for the same information. I would be grateful if you would release this information in good faith and in the public interest, rather than being forced to do so by the Act. I would also welcome you fast-tracking the publication of your transparency data regarding meetings with media organisations."
Bryant said that due to the public interest in the matter, he would be releasing this letter to the press. The Government routinely publishes details of ministers’ meetings with external organisations and people.
Many took to Twitter to voice their outrage at the claims and suspicion at Osborne’s motives…
This 'government' of ours effectively giving the BBC to Murdoch, of all people. Not a moral or a principle in sight http://t.co/bI61XNogQ1— toby (@tobyornot_) July 30, 2015
I'm afraid I wouldn't trust Osborne further than I could throw him.
He's either thick or evil ( or both)— Miss Mac (@MaggieMac42) July 31, 2015
@HuffPostUKPol The evil knows no geographical boundaries. Enormous impact from one family.— Elizabeth Marr (@JmarrMarr) July 31, 2015