News In Depth
Lots of love, from PM to Brooks
Rebekah Brooks has lifted the lid on her close relationship with David Cameron - revealing that he would sign off text messages "lots of love".
The former News International boss also disclosed that the Prime Minister expressed regret that he could not be more loyal publicly when she was forced to resign over the phone-hacking scandal.
The highly embarrassing revelations emerged as Mrs Brooks gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
She detailed her contacts with the most powerful people in the country over more than a decade, including dozens of lunches and dinners with successive prime ministers.
She met or dined with Tony Blair at least 30 times between 1998 and 2007, including three times tete-a-tete.
She had more than five such encounters with Gordon Brown after he took over at No 10, although she said she was closer to his wife Sarah.
But the links with Mr Cameron, whom she described as her "friend", are likely to provoke the most fallout.
They met at least once for lunch and four times for dinner following the 2010 general election, including a widely-reported Christmas dinner party at the Brooks' Oxfordshire home on December 23 that year.
Mrs Brooks said after she left News International last July she received commiserations from "some Tories" but "very few Labour politicians".
"I received some indirect messages from No 10, No 11, the Home Office, the Foreign Office," she said.
She said Mr Blair was among them but Mr Brown was not, adding to laughter: "He was probably getting the bunting out."
Mrs Brooks indicated that Mr Cameron's message was along the lines of "keep your head up".
Pressed on whether he had also conveyed regret that political circumstances meant he could not be more loyal, Mrs Brooks replied: "Similar, but very indirect."
Mrs Brooks dismissed reports that Mr Cameron would text her 12 times a day.
"No, thankfully," she said. "I have read this as well, 12 times a day. It is preposterous.
"I would text Mr Cameron, and vice-versa on occasion, like a lot of people. Probably more between January 2010 and maybe during the election campaign.
"He would sign them off DC, in the main. Occasionally he would sign them off 'lol', lots of love. Until I told him it meant 'laugh out loud'."
Mrs Brooks said she only had six weeks of information from the beginning of June to July 17 last year.
One of the text messages was from Mr Cameron, but the content was compressed and unreadable, she said.
Mrs Brooks pointed out that her husband Charlie, a contemporary of the Prime Minister at Eton, had longstanding family links with the Camerons separate from her own connections.
She stressed that details of the meetings came from her secretary's diary and were "very incomplete", as she had no access to records at her former company.
Asked whether she discussed the phone-hacking scandal with Mr Cameron between details emerging of pay-offs to victims in July 2009 and her resignation last year, Mrs Brooks said: "I think on occasion and not very often. So maybe once or twice because the phone-hacking story was sort of a constant, or it kept coming up.
"We would bring it up but in the most general terms... Maybe in 2010 we had a more specific conversation about it."
Mrs Brooks went on: "It was to do with the amount of civil cases coming in around 2010 and we had a conversation about that...
"It was a general discussion... I think it had been in the news that day and I think I explained the story behind the news."
Asked whether Mr Cameron's interest was related to the position of his then-spin doctor Andy Coulson, Mrs Brooks said: "No."
Mrs Brooks was also questioned about Rupert Murdoch's attempt to take full control of BSkyB, and said she knew of it a "couple of months" before it was made public in June 2010.
Asked if she discussed the issue with Mr Cameron at the dinner at her home in December 2010, she said it was mentioned because it was in the news after Business Secretary Vince Cable was reported to be promising to "declare war" on Mr Murdoch.
The incident led to Mr Cable handing over responsibility for deciding whether to allow the bid to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. It was later dropped.
"I may have mentioned it to Mr Cameron but it is not to be dwelled on because it wasn't a particularly long conversation," she said.
She had a "three-minute conversation" on the topic with George Osborne at dinner in December 2010.
"I put my views that were contrary to the ones that he had heard from everyone else," she added.
The following day Mrs Brooks emailed News Corporation public affairs executive Fred Michel saying that Mr Osborne had expressed "total bafflement" at Ofcom's latest response to the bid.
"It was an entirely appropriate conversation," she insisted. "They were all saying the same thing - 'it is not my decision'."
Mrs Brooks said she did not remember discussing it with Mr Cameron at a mulled wine and mince pie party at her sister-in-law's house on Boxing Day 2010, and she was not sure if they even spoke that night.
After she became editor of the Sun in 2003, Mrs Brooks said she spoke to media mogul Mr Murdoch "frequently".
But she quashed a rumour that the pair used to swim together when he was in London, and denied that, after she was arrested in 2005 over an alleged assault on her then husband, the actor Ross Kemp, Mr Murdoch sent a dress to the police station where she was being held.
She was later released without charge and the police took no further action.
Mrs Brooks told the inquiry she met Mr Blair in 1995 after he became leader of the Labour Party, and their meetings became more frequent throughout his decade as premier.
They met formally, informally and socially, and often spoke on the telephone, she said, admitting she was "friendly" with him and his wife Cherie.
But she said there were no emails or texts because Mr Blair "did not have a mobile phone or in fact I think use a computer when he was prime minister".
Mrs Brooks spoke about the Sun's decision to back the Tories at the 2010 general election, saying she had tried to get hold of Mr Brown at the September 2009 Labour conference the night before the paper was due to declare its support.
"Mr Brown and his wife were due to come to the News International party that night and I wanted to get hold of them," she said.
Mrs Brooks eventually spoke to Lord Mandelson, who seemed "quite angry but not surprised".
She told of an "extraordinarily aggressive" conversation with Mr Brown the following month.
"I remember it quite clearly because it was in response to the Sun splash on a letter that Gordon Brown had written to a bereaved mother whose son had died in Afghanistan.
"He had had some spelling mistakes or got the wrong name or something but the Sun had been particularly harsh to him about it...
"He rang me... it was a private conversation but the tone of it was very aggressive. Quite rightly, he was hurt by the (presentation) and the headline that had been put on the story."
Mrs Brooks said she reassured the then-prime minister that the coverage had been a "mistake", and did not reflect the attitude the Sun would be taking to him.
Rupert Murdoch told the inquiry last month that Mr Brown telephoned him after the switch in allegiance to the Tories and promised to "declare war" on his business empire. The ex-premier has denied the claim.
Mrs Brooks also denied hacking into medical records to discover that Mr Brown's son Fraser had cystic fibrosis. Instead, the information came from a source connected to a charity for the condition.
In a statement on Friday, Mr and Mrs Brown expressed concern that it was still unclear how The Sun obtained details of their son's medical condition.
"The idea that we would have volunteered our permission or were happy that a story about our son's health was about to enter the public domain is untrue," they said.
"We remain concerned that there is no satisfactory explanation of how private medical information, known to very few people, got into the hands of The Sun and the possible payments involved."
what do you think?
Did he? Bless him. Not up to his eyes with News Corps and Murdoch at all then. He clearly has no shame. Here's hoping Brooks gets the chance to return the favour soon x
This man has awful judgement. Let's recall that when Blair finally stood down as PM, Cameron insiste don giving the man a standing ovation and even waved his arms at his own backbenchers who were reluctant to stand. That was more than politeness demanded! He is not a Tory but a closet LibDem who took over the Tories to gain power. The sooner he is kicked out the better.
Cameron is a joke and he is running the country, how can we trust the man!!!
The answer is we can't trust him. I have never been so bitterly disillusioned.
We can't trust any of them as they are all corrupt. Their own actions prove it!
Windows Live User
Probably the least truthful of them all
Really???? You cant trust any of them ....however do you really believe a word this woman says either ??? Do you think she might be bringing down people too since she is being brought down? Men are bad enough but a woman scorned ...WOAH
Is with Blair, I can't understand why people could not see through Cameron from the start. A financial journalist who had experience of Cameron when he was a PR for Granada described him as a very nasty piece of work. At the time, there had been accusations of dodgy financial dealings and this journalist persisted in asking Cameron some very searching questions which Cameron tried to evade, becoming red in the face with anger. Cameron's response to this was to contact the journalist's editor and demand that he be sacked! Thankfully, the editor did not.
It just proves what a scummy paper the Sun is. It will trash anybodies reputation, indeed seems to enjoy doing it and thereby lay its power over politicians. They were scared to death of Brookes all except Gordon Brown who probably realised his days were numbered and spoke his mind. Cameron is still their poodle.
Windows Live User
I just loved this - some political commentators believe the next couple of days at the Leveson Inquiry could be very damaging for the Prime Minister. Political columnist Peter Oborne told Sky News: "If there was a suggestion that Downing Street was doing a commercial favour for News International or News Corp then the future of David Cameron inside Number 10 would come into question." Cant lie straight in bed
Unfortunately, nothing will stick. And even if it does he will simply ignore all criticism and carry on regardless. In reality, all our senior ministers are impervious to the outrage of the electorate and the concept of resigning in disgrace is laughable to them. Remember thrice Minister, Peter Mandelson?
The great majority are trained at Eton to be impervious to, and to ignore the views of the common people. They have no shame.
Yes but the sad thing is that Peter was set up twice over those scandals, simply for being to clever!
Beware the wrath of News International. Murdoch is a very powerful man and he will seek retribution. All you politicians who have curried favour and worse should be afraid. Little doe eyed Rebecca is just part of the scheme
Did any of Camerons emails/texts to Rebekah Brooks use his every day phrase. "We're all in it together" cos it looks as though they were.
Just watch her body language.
The book of of Genesis concerning the biblical Rebeka is interesting
Do try and keep up with reality and not some book of fairy tales!
One cannot but wonder, if she his bit of rough? She certainly looks unappetising!
The revenge of crystal tips
This is simply revenge by Brookes for the politicians who have dared to take on the corruption of an all too powerful media empire. How dare anyone should try to cut Murdoch and his spivs down to size!