A while back the Other Taxpayers’ Alliance put in a Freedom of Information Act request to ask about Michael Gove’s involvement with an organisation called the New Schools Network . It took a very long time for them to get any information at all, and when they did bother to reply they didn’t provide a lot of information. Michael Gove also got into a bit of trouble when it was found he was using Google Mail and Hotmail accounts for official Dept of Education use. As well as the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act there could be implications under the Official Secrets Acts if Gove is using them to send classified information. Then Gove made a very toadying speech about how wonderful Rupert Murdoch is in the face of the Leveson Inquiry, which was indirectly but very heavily criticized by Lord Leveson today. Now, according to the Guardian, it seems Gove is very close to Murdoch and there are some very unusual financial arrangements going on. Rupert Murdoch has been trying to get into education systems in the US for a while, and now he wants to be involved with the UK as well. All this could be coincidence, but there are a few questions I’d like answering:
- Did Rupert Murdoch donate anything to the New Schools Network?
- Did Murdoch come to any agreements with Gove before the 2010 general election regarding free schools or anything else?
- Has Gove provided any support or advice to Murdoch in his application to run a free school, particularly over and above the advice the DfE gives to other free schools or academies?
- Did Gove and Murdoch communicate using the Gmail or Hotmail accounts, and if they did, was this an attempt to bypass the Freedom of Information Act?
- Who gave the go-ahead for Gove’s speech praising Rupert Murdoch last week, and who wrote it?
From here it all looks very dodgy. I don’t think Gove’s free schools/academies programme was set up specifically to benefit Rupert Murdoch, because the Conservatives have been trying to remove schools from local education authority control since at least 1988 when grant maintained schools were introduced as part of the Education Reform Act, but it does seem a rather convenient way to provide favours for friends.