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"”

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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
    +2

    Comment number 414.

    The fact of the matter is that this cosy relationship between government and NI started under Blair (the most successful PM at self-enrichment post-office). It is obvious that it has been going on for years.

    Cameron, however, is proving just a slippery as Blair.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 413.

    Incredible that our current PM can be so blasé about his relationship with media personnel and a complete lack of intuition about hiring someone and accepting verbal assurances. His references to opposition looks like a smokescreen to redirect headlines elsewhere. Doesn't instil confidence in either his character or abilities.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 412.

    You can always tell when a politician lies, their lips move

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 411.

    Hmmm this bloke Dave is a bit thick isn't he.....errr what he's the Prime Minister??

  • rate this
    +80

    Comment number 410.

    Yet another example of politicians being economical with the truth. If he wants to reset relations with the press how can he justify having get togethers with Brooks and co and the messages that were sent? I doubt the full truth will ever be revealed as too many reputations are at stake.

  • rate this
    -24

    Comment number 409.

    #371: "i wonder how many hours the PM has spent preparing for this defence of himself rather than doing something for the country?"

    He would be able to do what he is paid to do, if LAB opportunists stopped creating drama merely to distract the public from the fact that LAB have no credible policy suggestions. You're too naive to realise that fact.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 408.

    Tombleson @ 370 said:
    "There will be an inquiry into how the BBC continually misled the British public with their blatant pro Labour bias..They (BBC) have gone for Murdoch, in order to nullify any threat to their monopoly of British media output..."

    Wow!

    I thought mattmatt81 @ 291 was somewhat "off-key" but you take the biscuit with this diatribe.

    Log-on to Fox News, they'll like you there.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 407.

    What possible reason could dc have to allow the creation of a huge multi platform media organisation that supports the right .

    Maybe as a counter balance to the even bigger multi platform media oraganisation that supports the labour party . Or the been as we call it .

    If we had a neutral BBC there would be no need for a counterweight .

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 406.

    I agree to all what people saying.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 405.

    Blame Europe, Blame the EU, Blame Greece, Blame Labour, and when all else fails Blame Brown!!!

    I cannot believe we voted for this useless Prime Minister !!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 404.

    371.WebNewsReader
    5 Minutes ago
    I wonder how many hours the PM has spent preparing for this defence of himself rather than doing something for the country?

    You cannot expect him to recall that with his memory, mind you he could lie about it

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 403.

    Leveson inquiry = distraction

    Bankers bonuses = distraction

    Mainstream media = distraction

    The government are doing everything they can to distract the british public from what is going to happen to our economy.

    What you see happening in europe WILL happen in britain.

    We use a fiat monetary system.

    Every single fiat monetary system in history has collapsed without exception.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 402.

    it will be concealed and so you will have to stop in front of the Judge of Justice and Law to tell you your wrongdoing. But, one fact, for the world, is that any single of human should have a one true religion and to embody it in his life, so he or she will fortify their life from wrongdoing and then no sins come to them out of nothing. And to this case of Ethics inquiry, its the same thing.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 401.

    Clearly someone is lying if there are conflicting reports. Evidence is given under oath. So who will be going to prison for perjury?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 400.

    349 Rufus McDufus
    368.Under-Used
    Erm? The Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, UKIP, and those are just British political parties that have no relationship at all with media.
    ==
    The above political parties indicate that if you, as a party, kept your distance from Murdoch (up to recent events) you don't get any TV or press coverage. That's been the truth behind our wonderful system

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 399.

    This enquiry continues to raise the one question that the Tory party are terrified of: is David Cameron's judgement flawed. This is their only concern.

    Unfortunately for the Tory party, DC has made enough errors in judgement to render the question trite.

    David Cameron lacks the judgement to be Prime Minister.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 398.

    First rule in dealing with the press....don't do it! They will never write or report the story factually, there will always be a spin towards selling newspapers and spreading scandal. Our politicians are stuck between a rock and a hard place because most readers want scandal and cannot read the truth between the lines. So there are leaks, so they cannot be quoted.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 397.

    The memory deficits that Cameron and others seem to be having means we must stop the proposals to engage in wholesale snooping on private individual's emails, etc. Instead, we must help our politicians, who seem to be bordering on serious cognitive deficits, and enforce monitoring them all constantly. This is so we can see just what they get up to by checking independent sources, and reduce costs.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 396.

    Whitewash

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 395.

    It has got to the stage where He knows He is evading the truth and He knows everybody else knows He is avoiding the truth but He can't get out of it because the truth will hurt too much.

 

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