The Sunday Herald’s media correspondent Stephen Vass today reports that Google has reached some sort of licencing deal with “several large UK news groups” to use their material on Google News.

Vass couldn’t confirm which companies are involved, and Google hasn’t commented yet.

“The deals are reputedly being kept strictly secret for fear that Google will end up having to pay for similar licences with all of the 4500 news services it carries on its news aggregator,” Vass writes.

Licensing deals between Google and news organisations are no longer without precedent, since the recent settlement with Agence France-Presse, which had sued Google over use of its material in the aggregator. And last summer, the Associated Press was reported to have come to some sort of agreement with Google as well.

Update 21/5: Google denies everything.