Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of News International and the former editor-in-chief of the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World that has been at the heart of phone hacking scandal in the UK, gave testimony Friday at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and drew Prime Minister David Cameron further into the scandal. Brooks’s testimony lasted for five hours during which she was “cautious but sometimes combative” in “spar[ring]” with the inquiry’s lead counsel, Robert Jay.
Brooks testified that, during the 2010 election, she exchanged up to two texts per week with Cameron, who signed off on the texts with “DC” or “LOL” until, says the Guardian, she explained to him that the latter acronym stands for “laugh out loud” and not “lots of love.” She also denied as “ludicrous” reports that she had exchanged as many as twelve texts a week with Cameron.
Brooks was the editor the NoW at the time that its staff are accused of hacking into the voice mail of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler’s phone, prior to her body being found. Brooks resigned from her position after the scandal erupted in July of 2011 and was arrested shortly afterwards. She has been questioned by police and before a Parliamentary select committee on culture, sport and media; she was arrested again in March and again questioned. Back in July, Rupert Murdoch had strongly indicated his support for her when he arrived in the UK for questioning by the Parliamentary committee, too.
During the inquiry, Brooks insisted that her relationships with those, including politicians, in power had never affected “my position as a journalist.”
As noted in the Telegraph, Brooks had a “conversation” with Cameron to discuss “the story behind the news” in 2010 after actress Sienna Miller had filed a lawsuit against News International. Miller’s doing so was “pivotal” as it thereby became clear that hacking was not the work, as the company had been claiming, of a “rogue” reporter, but was a far more pervasive (and, it has turned out, an extensive) practice. Andy Coulson, a former NoW editor, was Cameron’s chief of communication at the time. Says the Telegraph:
Mrs Brooks denied that Mr Cameron asked her for information because he was having “second thoughts” about Mr Coulson, but said she had more than one conversation with him about phone hacking after the “rogue reporter” defence fell apart.
The Prime Minister is expected to insist that he was unaware of the significance of the Miller claim at the time of the conversation.
In another indication of how entangled Brooks, NI’s publications, parent company News Corp. and politicians were (are), Brooks said that she attended a Boxing Day party with Cameron in December of 2010, three days after the prime minister had been at a dinner at her Oxfordshire home (three miles from Cameron’s) during which News Corp.’s £8 billion bid for the media network BSkyB Media was discussed.
The New York Times also describes her and Cameron as both members of a “tight-knit group of powerful people known as the Chipping Norton set who spend weekends together.” Cameron has certainly at least been embarrassed by these revelations and questions regarding, as the Guardian says, the “appropriateness of their relationship” remain.
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