Olympics: I'll take Murdoch as my guest to games - Boris

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Photo / AP
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Photo / AP

Boris Johnson will court controversy this week by taking Rupert Murdoch to an Olympics event as his personal guest.

The News Corporation boss is among a group of business leaders London's mayor has invited to attend a swimming final on Friday that is expected to feature British star Rebecca Adlington.

As mayor, Mr Johnson has oversight of Scotland Yard, where a police investigation into the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the media mogul's newspapers is still under way.

Mr Johnson's decision to invite Mr Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng will be seen as a deliberate attempt to demonstrate his independence from David Cameron, who has distanced himself from Mr Murdoch since setting up the Leveson inquiry into media standards and ethics.

Mr Johnson, who initially described the phone-hacking investigation as 'codswallop', is thought to have invited Mr Murdoch because of investment in British sport by his firms - particularly BSkyB - over many years. It is believed to be a 'long-standing invitation' that was also extended to other media executives.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, whose newspaper has led a campaign against Mr Murdoch's media empire, is understood to have been invited but was unable to attend.

The group will be hoping to watch Miss Adlington go for gold in the 800m freestyle swimming if she makes it through the heats. Mr Johnson was also pictured yawning yesterday as he and his family took in the beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade.

However, his boredom appeared to manifest itself only during the men's matches, and he seemed to perk up once the bikini-clad women competitors came on.

Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly, said: "There are serious questions as to the appropriateness of Boris Johnson taking Mr Murdoch to the Olympics.

"An internal City Hall investigation is still under way after it was discovered the Mayor had failed to declare meetings with Mr Murdoch. I do not think it is appropriate for the Mayor to be entertaining Mr Murdoch in this way." The Green Party's Jenny Jones, who stood against Mr Johnson in this year's mayoral contest, said that inviting Mr Murdoch was 'inappropriate' and showed 'appalling judgment'.

"Johnson seems to think he can get away with anything but there is always a step too far and this could be it," she said. "Most people will be appalled that he has taken someone who heads up a company that is currently involved in a criminal investigation."

Mr Johnson's official spokesman said: "As the Mayor has always said, he would use the Games to shamelessly promote London as the leading business hub in Europe.

"With that aim in mind, he's meeting - and will continue to meet - a range of business and media executives at or on the margins of Olympic events to further London's drive for investment that will spur jobs and growth."

- Daily Mail

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