- Ex-culture secretaries Maria Miller and Jeremy Hunt had eight meetings
- David Cameron has long praised firm despite it paying low levels of tax
- Tech giant officials met with PM six times and George Osborne five times
Maria Miller, the former culture secretary, and Jeremy Hunt met officials from Google a total of eight times between them
Coalition ministers have met Google executives 54 times since the General Election – an average of more than once a month.
David Cameron held talks with the internet giant six times and Chancellor George Osborne five times over the past four years.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey attended a total of 14 meetings, while former culture secretaries Maria Miller and Jeremy Hunt met the firm eight times between them.
The total of 54 meetings between June 2010 and March this year was disclosed in Whitehall department records.
The revelation will add to fears about the powerful US technology firm’s close links to the Government and ability to influence policy on contentious issues such as online child safety and copyright violation.
A music industry leader worried about Google’s hugely popular search engine providing access to piracy websites claimed the £223billion company came as close as possible to ‘sleeping with the Prime Minister’.
Google has been accused of using complicated cross-border accounting practices to avoid paying its fair share of corporation tax in Britain.
Last year it paid just £20.4million to the Treasury – after earlier admitting that its total UK revenues are £3.3billion.
Google and other major internet firms have also been criticised for taking too long to delete terrorist propaganda, including beheading videos.
Child protection charities have argued that the online search giant must do more to block access to child abuse images and prevent children from viewing pornography.
In May 2012 the Mail revealed that Tory ministers had been meeting Google an average of once a month since the election.
The new figures show there has been no slowdown in Google’s meetings with Coalition ministers who have discussed topics including data protection, supporting internet businesses and protecting children online.
It has emerged that Google is developing products aimed at under-13s, who have until now been largely off limits for technology firms because of strict US laws about collecting personal information from youngsters.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey attended a total of 14 meetings with the tech giant. Since the general election ministers have met with Google chiefs 54 times, more than once a month on average
One controversial area government ministers discussed with Google on several occasions was online copyright infringement.
This is of particular concern for British record and film companies, who have accused Google of profiting from internet pirates.
Months after taking office, Mr Cameron praised Google in a speech to promote the new centre for British technology firms at ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in east London.
He pledged to review the UK’s intellectual property laws to ‘make them fit for the internet age’.
Scottish National Party MP Pete Wishart told GQ magazine: ‘I’ve always called that statement by the Prime Minister the “Googlesburg Address” because it seems to have informed the whole process since then.’
Mr Cameron’s intervention resulted in the Hargreaves Review, which recommended relaxing Britain’s tough copyright laws.
Alison Wenham, chief executive of the Association of Independent Music, which represents indie record labels, said: ‘Google was as close to sleeping with the Prime Minister as they could get.’
Mr Cameron has regularly been criticised for being too close to Google and other wealthy internet firms accused of paying little UK tax.
This summer he appointed Joanna Shields, a former executive for both Google and Facebook, to the House of Lords.
Among Lib Dems, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has met Google bosses once and Business Secretary Vince Cable five times since the election.
David Cameron, who met with Google representative six times, has long praised the internet giant which has been criticised for paying little tax in this country (pcitured, the firm’s headquarters in California)
A Google insider said only a tiny fraction of its meetings with ministers were at its request, and argued that the firm has regularly been criticised by the Government in recent months.
Tory sources pointed out that last week Mr Osborne announced a new levy – nicknamed the ‘Google Tax’ – on multinational companies that shift profits to countries with lower tax rates.
A Tory party spokesman said ministers regularly meet a wide range of business leaders, adding: ‘In relation to meetings with Google, there have been a series of meetings over the last year to put pressure on Google and other online firms to take action to deal with child abuse images on the internet and child sexual exploitation online. These meetings have already made good progress.
‘More recently, there have also been meetings with Google and other online firms on the need to take more action to tackle extremist and terrorist material.’
A Google spokesman said: ‘We removed more than 35million links to pirated content from our search results in the last month alone.
‘According to Ofcom just 8 per cent of infringers in the UK use Google to find unlicensed film and 13 per cent to find unlicensed music.’