‘Cameron sent message when I quit’

Brooks received ‘indirect messages’ of support from UK PM

Written by Associated Press | London | Published:May 12, 2012 1:10 am

Former hotshot editor Rebekah Brooks drew Prime Minister David Cameron closer into Britain’s tabloid phone hacking scandal Friday,saying he had offered her some support after the uproar over illegal journalistic practices forced her to quit.

Brooks,who resigned in July as chief executive of News International,Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper division,detailed her close friendships with Cameron,former Prime Minister Tony Blair and their families,in testimony to the country’s Leveson inquiry into media ethics.

The 43-year-old,a former editor of The Sun and now-defunct News of The World,has been arrested twice. Freed on bail,she can’t answer direct questions about cases for fear of prejudicing a future trial.

Brooks said Cameron was a friend and neighbour. After she quit,Brooks said she had received “indirect messages” of support,text messages sent by the aides of politicians,but with their thoughts,including from Cameron. “I received some indirect messages from No. 10,No. 11,the Home Office and Foreign Office,” Brooks said,referring to Cameron,Treasury chief George Osborne and other cabinet members.

She agreed that a message from Cameron had told her to “keep your head up” and expressed regret that he could not offer more support publicly,because of political pressure. The message was “along those lines,I don’t think they were the exact words,” Brooks said.

Brooks said she and Cameron would trade texts at least once or twice a week during times such as the 2010 elections. “He would sign them off ‘DC,’” said Brooks. “Occasionally he would sign them off LOL,‘lots of love’,until I told him it meant ‘laugh out loud.’”

Brooks confirmed that she had discussed tabloid phone hacking with Cameron,including after toxic revelations that the News of the World had hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone when she disappeared in 2002.

She told the inquiry that former Blair had also offered support when she quit.

In 2003,as editor of The Sun,Brooks said her newspaper’s support for Britain’s role in Iraq war helped their relationship deepen.

Blair’s successor Gordon Brown,however,was “incredibly aggressive and angry” after The Sun ditched its support for his Labour Party before the 2010 election,which Brown lost. As others sent texts after she quit,Brown “was probably getting the bunting out,” Brooks joked.

Evidence from Brooks raised new doubts over Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s handling of a decision on if News Corp. should be authorised to take full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. Hunt had been supposed to be acting as an impartial judge to decide whether to approve the takeover or refer it to regulators. Brooks said in one email she received,News Corp. lobbyist Frederic Michel claimed Hunt had “asked me to advise him privately and guide his and No.10’s positioning.”

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