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David Cameron held secret meeting with News Corp. executives, paper claims


David Cameron and Charlie Brooks attend the book launch for Brooks' book "Citizen" in London on April 1, 2009


Dave Hogan

A secret meeting between David Cameron and a senior News Corp. executive in 2009 reveals the true extent to which the British prime minister has engaged with Rupert Murdoch's company, as well as the media tycoon himself, the Independent on Sunday has claimed.

According to the paper, Cameron met in secret with Jose Maria Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain and a member of the News Corp. board, in early November 2009, weeks after Murdoch's The Sun tabloid ended its support for Labour and backed Cameron's Conservative Party.

The meeting was arranged by the head of public affairs for News Corp., Frédéric Michel, now at the center of the scandal around Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt.

According to the Independent, News Corp executives were courting Cameron as the company was gearing up for its bid to take over BSkyB.

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Cameron has come under steady scrutiny over his apparent close relations with News Corp. insiders, particularly Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor, and Andy Coulson, a former high-level editor who became the newly elected Cameron's head of communications at Downing Street in 2010.

Separately, the Independent revealed Sunday that Coulson held shares in News Corp. while he was Cameron's top aide, at a time when the Government was deciding whether to approve the company's BSkyB takeover.

It has been revealed that Hunt, the Culture Minister, was in close contact with Murdoch aides while he had responsibility for the BSkyB takeover decision.

Both Brooks and Coulson, meantime, are expected to appear before the Leveson Inquiry into press standards this week.

Cameron is among eight top lawmakers given the right to see Leveson Inquiry documents and witness statements in advance, as designated "core participants" -- people who have a significant interest in the hearings or may face criticism, according to the UK Press Association.

According to the Associated Press, Cameron has acknowledged that he wooed Murdoch as he attempted to win power in Britain, however he insisted he never struck a deal to support the media mogul's business dealings in Britain.

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