Facebook’s Nick Clegg had two meetings with the Ofcom boss

0

Media regulator Ofcom was faced with questions about its transparency last night after it refused to disclose information about meetings between its CEO and Facebook lobbyist Nick Clegg.

The former Deputy Prime Minister met Dame Melanie Dawes shortly before reportedly attempting to interfere with the appointment of a new watchdog chairman.

The Mail on Sunday has determined that Sir Nick has met Dame Melanie twice – April 16, 2020 and February 3 this year – but Ofcom has declined to reveal what was discussed.

Responding to a request for freedom of information from this newspaper, the regulator said it could not release details without Facebook’s consent, or unless required by law – and neither condition was met.

Media regulator Ofcom was faced with questions about its transparency last night after it refused to disclose information about meetings between its CEO and Facebook lobbyist Nick Clegg

The refusal came after governments of five countries, as well as the European Union, fully cooperated with our requests, releasing a slew of documents and minutes on exchanges involving Sir Nick.

They include details of an email conversation between the former Lib Dem leader and Margrethe Vestager, a Danish politician who was European Commissioner for Competition when Clegg was appointed Facebook’s head of global affairs in 2018.

The day after his new role was announced, Sir Nick emailed her, ‘I know you have reservations about social media, and maybe FB [Facebook] in particular, but I hope you agree that it is good to have a European and a Liberal in the heart of Silicon Valley! ‘

The former Deputy Prime Minister met Dame Melanie Dawes (above) shortly before reportedly attempting to interfere with the appointment of a new watchdog chairman.  The Mail on Sunday has noted that Sir Nick has met Dame Melanie twice on April 16, 2020 and February 3 this year, but Ofcom has declined to reveal what was discussed.

The former Deputy Prime Minister met Dame Melanie Dawes (above) shortly before reportedly attempting to interfere with the appointment of a new watchdog chairman. The Mail on Sunday has determined that Sir Nick has met Dame Melanie twice – April 16, 2020 and February 3 this year – but Ofcom has declined to reveal what was discussed.

Sir Nick later joined forces with Google to lobby against the proposed appointment of former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre as head of the watchdog, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Dacre emerged last summer as Boris Johnson’s favorite to chair the watchdog board for his willingness to “ challenge the status quo. ”

Facebook denied interfering with the nomination process, which is now being rerun after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he had become aware of concerns “about lobbying and undeclared interests of candidates.”

The interview panel with outside administrators and a civil servant could now be replaced.

The tech giants would prefer the selection of Lord Vaizey, who maintained friendly relations with the industry when he was Minister of Culture under David Cameron. The other candidates are Ofcom’s Deputy Chairman Maggie Carver and Sir Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

The refusal came after governments of five countries, as well as the EU, fully cooperated with our requests, by releasing a slew of documents and minutes on exchanges involving Sir Nick.  They include details of an email conversation between the former Lib Dem leader and Margrethe Vestager (above), a Danish politician who was the European Commissioner for Competition when Clegg was appointed Facebook's head of global affairs in 2018.

The refusal came after governments of five countries, as well as the EU, fully cooperated with our requests, by releasing a slew of documents and minutes on exchanges involving Sir Nick. They include details of an email conversation between the former Lib Dem leader and Margrethe Vestager (above), a Danish politician who was the European Commissioner for Competition when Clegg was appointed Facebook’s head of global affairs in 2018.

Ofcom currently regulates telecom, broadcasting and the post, but the assignment is being extended to the Internet.

Ministers will give Ofcom powers to regulate social media companies as part of the online security law, meaning the successful candidate would oversee the implementation of rules that hold the web giants responsible for child sexual abuse images, terrorist material and harmful content about suicide on their services.

Last week, Julian Knight, the chairman of the Commons Culture Committee, criticized the ‘undue delay’ of the process, saying, ‘We are concerned about the lack of clarity on why the process … should be re-run.

“As a result of this unnecessary delay, the chairless communications regulator is at a less critical time as the government prepares to legislate against online damage.”

A Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph, ‘Facebook has long called for new rules to set high standards on the internet. We already have strict policies against harmful content on our platforms, but regulation is needed so that private companies don’t make so many important decisions on their own. ‘

An Ofcom spokesperson said, “It is an essential part of the CEO’s role to meet senior representatives from every industry we regulate.

‘These conversations must be open, honest and commercial in nature and therefore confidential.

“We will continue to meet with senior leaders while overseeing these important sectors.”

.