Tory ministers have been cosying up to search giant Google, meeting on average once a month since the General Election, Mail Online reports. Still smarting from embarrassingly close links with News International, the revelation could prove to be fresh egg on the face of Prime Minister David Cameron.
It also raises fears Google could influence government policy. And seeing as wheels continue to fall off the News International clown car, it's hardly surprising the Tories want to be in bed with Eric Schmidt and his gang.
There have been no fewer than 23 meetings between Google and the Conservatives since June 2010. Culture minister Ed Vaizey tops the leaderboard, with seven meetings with Google. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and chancellor George Osborne are joint second with four meetings apiece, while David Cameron has met the Big G three times.
At least three senior figures have moved between the party and Google in recent years.
The revelation comes while the Leveson Inquiry investigates the close relationship between the party and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, another huge media company. (It was this investigation that threw up the fact David Cameron thought LOL stood for 'lots of love'. LOL indeed.)
Google is awaiting the government's Green Paper for its proposed Communications Bill, which will have major implications for the company. Then there's thethe government is currently considering.
A spokesperson for Google told Mail Online: "It's absolutely right that governments speak with companies about issues that affect their citizens. The British government makes the list of those meetings publicly available -- including the Daily Mail's 34 meetings over the same period." Touché.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: "All these meetings have been properly declared and it is normal for relevant ministers to meet with a company of this size."
The links go even further though. Steve Hilton, until recently Cameron's most trusted adviser, is married to Rachel Whetstone, global head of communications at Google in California. Seriously, don't powerful people have any non-influential mates?
What do you make of the relationship between Google and the government? Is it normal and healthy, or is there more going on here than either would like us to know? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.