Two days ago my colleague George Eaton asked, “Why isn’t Osborne appearing at the Leveson inquiry?” He posed the question because of the Chancellor’s direct involvement in the recruitment of Andy Coulson as the Conservatives’ communication director.
So far George Osborne has been asked only to give written evidence.
But he might yet appear in person after details emerged today of a weekend get together featuring both Coulson and former New International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.
The meeting at the Chancellor’s Buckinghamshire residence Dorneywood back in 2010, and unearthed by the Observer, was disclosed in Coulson’s written statement to the inquiry released on Thursday. It reads:
My family and I also spent a weekend at Dorneywood in 2010 as a guest of George Osborne and his wife. Rebekah and her husband were also guests.
It was in June 2010 that News Corp’s intention to bid for overall control of BSkyB was made public and we know already that Brooks discussed the bid briefly with David Cameron over dinner in December 2010. It is also understood that Brooks and Osborne met in the same month.
This latest revelation does at least raise questions about Osborne’s judgement and a seemingly inappropriate closeness to an executive of a company subject to a major regulatory decision.
It is surely inconceivable, therefore, that Osborne won’t soon be invited — as Cameron and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt already have been — to make his way to the Inquiry Room, Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand.