Leveson: 'We're definitely in this together', Brooks told PM

 

Rebekah Brooks' text to David Cameron: "We're definitely in this together"

Ex-News International executive Rebekah Brooks told the PM "professionally we're definitely in this together", after the Sun paper switched loyalty to his party, the Leveson Inquiry heard.

Mrs Brooks sent the text to David Cameron on the eve of his speech to the 2009 Conservative Party conference.

But Mr Cameron said ex-PM Gordon Brown's claims about a Tory deal with the company were "complete nonsense".

And he said hiring ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson had "haunted" him.

Mr Coulson became Mr Cameron's communications chief after resigning from the paper when its royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed for phone hacking.

'Proud friend'

Mr Cameron said Mr Brown's claim - that the Tories agreed to cut funding for the BBC and media regulator Ofcom in return for political support from News International - had been made because he was "very angry and disappointed" at the Sun's decision to switch support from Labour ahead of the 2010 general election.

Start Quote

Questioned about the Murdochs, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and Jeremy Hunt, he looked "tense, edgy, uncomfortable and again and again said he couldn't recall events"”

End Quote

Mr Cameron said the message from Mrs Brooks, dated October 2009 and submitted as part of his written evidence, was a reflection the Sun had the previous week decided to support the Conservatives.

Mrs Brooks said in the text to the then opposition leader: "I am so rooting for you tomorrow, not just as a proud friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together."

The text refers to how they should have a "country supper soon".

Despite the friendship, Mr Cameron said there had been "no overt deals", "no covert deals" and "no nods and winks" with the company.

He said he did have some conversations with editors in which he told them "we'd love a bit more support from your paper", but "not very often".

Legal advice

Speaking about Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's appointment to handle the bid by News International's parent company News Corporation to buy BSkyB, Mr Cameron said: "It was not some rushed, botched, political decision. If anyone had told me Jeremy Hunt couldn't do the job I wouldn't have given him the job."

He said he "definitely asked the cabinet secretary's [Sir Jeremy Heywood] view and my memory is that he sought legal advice."

The BSkyB bid was eventually abandoned in July 2011 amid outrage over the phone-hacking scandal.

Rebekah Brooks's message to David Cameron on eve of conference speech

"But seriously I do understand the issue with the Times. Let's discuss over country supper soon.

"On the party it was because I had asked a number of NI (News International) people to Manchester post endorsement and they were disappointed not to see you. But as always Sam was wonderful (and I thought it was OE's [Old Etonians] were charm personified!)

"I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together! Speech of your life? Yes he Cam".

The Conservatives have been accused of having a biased view in favour of the bid by News Corporation.

The prime minister's witness statement reveals he had 1,404 meetings with "media figures" - 26 a month on average - while in opposition between 2005 and 2010. Once in government, that fell to an average of about 13 a month.

In 2008 he took a trip to the Greek island of Santorini for a dinner with News International boss Rupert Murdoch because it was a chance to "build a relationship" with him.

When asked by Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press, how frequently he had seen Mrs Brooks between 2008 and 2009 when he was at home in his constituency in Oxfordshire, Mr Cameron was not specific.

He replied: "Not every weekend... um, in 2008/09, I'd have to check, I might be able to go back and check but I don't think every weekend, I don't think most weekends."

'Controversial appointment'

When he returned to give evidence in the afternoon however he said he had more details, after checking his wife Samantha's diary.

It suggested the couple were "in the constituency" 23 weekends in 2009 and 15 in 2010, meaning "we probably did not see [the Brooks] more than once every six weeks".

Lord Justice Leveson replied: "The great value of wives, prime minister."

Charlie and Rebekah Brooks leave court Charlie and Rebekah Brooks appeared in court on Wednesday

Mrs Brooks and her husband Charlie - who went to school with Mr Cameron - have both been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in relation to the phone-hacking scandal surrounding News of the World. Both deny wrongdoing.

The prime minister told the inquiry he accepted hiring Mr Coulson was "a controversial appointment" which had "come back to haunt both him and me".

However, Mr Cameron said had been given "assurances" at the time by Mr Coulson that he had no knowledge of phone hacking at the paper.

Earlier Mr Cameron said politicians "have to take care when you have personal friendships [with individuals in the media] but that can be done and I have done that".

Mr Cameron said the relationship between politicians and the media had deteriorated. "How we get it to a better place, I think part of it will be about transparency, better regulation, having a bit more distance, that will be part of respect."

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said some of the key moments in Mr Cameron's testimony were when he was asked about Mr Murdoch, Mrs Brooks and the Sun, saying his answers were often "terse" and that he looked "tense".

Meanwhile Mr Hunt, responding to a Parliamentary question, said the Leveson Inquiry has so far cost taxpayers £3.2 million, with the total cost for part one of the investigation expected to reach £5.6 million.

 

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  • rate this
    +87

    Comment number 134.

    As readers, are we equally to blame as demand for news fuels supply? When the demand for celebrity trash talk outweighs real news, then as a society/readers we are lost. It is a clever strategy to feed the "mis-informed" readers (Red Top Readers) with trash talk and then influence policy with commentary when it matters. You can feed these people anything and they will believe it..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 133.

    Pull back? PM's got a cheek. He gives all appearance of having been right in the thick of it. Hacking with Mrs Brooks, his close neighbour, on her borrowed Police horse, Sending her messages signed LOL, enjoying bubbly at Rupert's parties?

    Are there any politicians who turn Rupert down, tell him to get stuffed?
    I bet if Bob Crow or Dennis Skinner were PM they would tell them where to shove it

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 132.

    We have the press/media we deserve.

    The short-term interest in the petty issues that surround our lives is what sells Newspapers and TV shows...it is we the readership and the viewing public that have stimulate the media to move down this route.

    It is not therefore unsurprising that those impacted by the media have to respond as such...life has becoem trial by the media.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 131.

    Pricklyghost
    If the whole truth & nothing but the truth is actually told today it'll snow! What was it one of our leaders once termed it?...Ah yes..."I was being frugal with the truth"...I bet there's quite a lot of frugality takes place today!

    The Tory Press will tell you exactly where is is snowing to back up Cameron's evidence. Antarctica anyone?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 130.

    You kept your baby in a cardboard box and forget and leave your other child in the pub, it's not a case that "the 24-hour news agenda is "a permanent battle"", you're an idiot, what do you expect?

  • rate this
    +130

    Comment number 129.

    Once politicians realise that they are employed to serve the country, not to look good in the papers or on TV, their relationships with the press might be more appropriate. The current crop are far too interested in inflating their own egos (and bank balances) that doing the job for which they are well-paid by us, the citizens.

  • rate this
    +43

    Comment number 128.

    Cameron must think we are all very very dim (or that he is very very clever).

    Regular meetings with Murdoch, Xmas dinners with Brooks, a top job for the disgraced Coulson (everyone deserves a 2nd chance !), BSkyB decision taken from Cable for being biased against, given to Hunt despite being openly biased for.

    No hidden agendas here ?

    I'm not that dim Prime Minister.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 127.

    Let's not forget this whole inquiry is about the Murdoch empire, and it's prolonged and insidious influence on those who govern us in the UK.

    The public woke up to this, via the tragic death of Milly Dowler (RIP) and revelations that her phone was hacked by staff on the payroll of Murdoch.

    I believe in freedom of speech - not freedom of criminal activity by those with too much power/influence.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 126.

    Anyone familiar with the term "economical with the actualité"? If not then watch Flashman on iPlayer he's a compulsive exponent of the practice but I'm too ungenerous, all of his sanctum sanctorum are expert exponents of the affliction. Of course, please forgive me I was forgetting, it's the media that makes them do it. What a shower are these seriously the best that we can get? Surely not?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 125.

    109.KURGANCODE
    "Depending on the outcome of Rebekah Brooks trial will determine what else is revealed by Murdoch who will no doubt adopt a mutually assured destruction strategy if she ends up in the slammer"
    ===
    Hear, hear, my, and probably loads of other people's, thoughts exactly. The Leveson inquiry disclosures will be greatly overshadowed by the up and coming court cases.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 124.

    I suggest he advises the electorate to detach themselves from Rolling Football too...

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 123.

    69.Rufus McDufus

    36 Minutes ago

    "59.
    Sixp

    53.Guy
    No one person should control 10% of our media.
    ---
    Make it 1 media outlet and the problem is solved."


    We could call it something like 'BBC Pravda'.

    ---
    I meant per person or organisation Dufus!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 122.

    I thought this enquiry was supposed to be about the relationships between politicians and the press.
    Unlike other former and current party leaders Cameron appears to give a Party Political Broadcast as opposed to giving his views or attitudes towards the press.
    Hopefully questions will get to the nitty gritty of his close relationship with the Brookes and Murdochs. Corporate influence rules.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 121.

    I decided to abandon rubbish from my life a long long time ago.
    The press was the first bit of rubbish to go onto the scrapheap.
    Television was the next bit of rubbish to go onto the scrapheap.
    I guess bad governments are the next bit of rubbish to go onto the scrapheap.
    Are you abandoning the rubbish in your life?
    If so, let your friends know you're having a good clean-out.

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 120.

    Perhaps I am being naive but I do not recall the level of press manipulation until Blair came into power. Labour had a strategy to feed the press with positive stories and put out the bad news when there was a more significant story running, as witnessed by the email scandal when Princess Diana died. The press hoover up rubbish and print it because they are lazy and need to fill space.

  • rate this
    -32

    Comment number 119.

    I don't recall having the option of comment on blair , brown or millibands apearances .
    Funny that .
    You only get the chance to slag off labour and the bbcs enemies .
    For a publicly funded news source with a readership of millions I would expect more impartiality

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 118.

    Why cant they use a lie detector,then we can see how much truth is really been spoke,this con {god} seems to only remember when it suits him.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 117.

    "Yet it is offensive that Ed Miliband gives the impression he personally has come up with fifty amazing ideas to solve issues in in the media sectorand that this is not his fault, after 13 years of Labour inaction."

    I don't think Milliband gave that impression at all when he gave evidence. And it's hard to call it "his fault", when he's only been leading the party a couple of years!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 116.

    86.Polly8122
    "The ruling elite; political/media/banking/business is drawn from the same pool. Their connections compromise them."

    --------
    And Cameron is successfully conning us that all parties are the same, but basically Labour cosy-up to the press out of necessity, Tories cosy-up out of common interests/friendships and LibDems don't because they're (mostly) irrelevant.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 115.

    I hope something positive comes of the Inquiry otherwise what is the point? I'm sure that Flashman & his cohorts are ruing the day they set the wheels in motion but am I alone in suspecting that the political players will get of scot-free whilst those in the media will be hung out to dry? All I can say is that it takes two to tango. Own up & pay up or leave office like men. Scurrilous shower.

 

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