David Cameron and the Murdoch empire

Murdoch/Cameron cartoon

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 12 May 2012

‘LOL’ Dave to Rebekah

Prime Minister Cameron ended several text messages to former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks with the letters LOL, she told the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.

Lead counsel for the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, asked her about the frequency of text contacts between the two when she was head of News International.

She said that suggestions Cameron texted her up to twelve times a day while opposition leader were ‘preposterous’, adding that they exchanged messages about once a week although contacts increased to about two a week in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

Brooks was pressed by Jay on how Cameron signed off his texts.

She said that the prime minister would use DC ‘in the main’, adding: ‘Occasionally he would sign them off LOL, lots of love. Actually, until I told him it meant laugh out loud and then he did not sign them like that any more. But, in the main, DC, I would have thought.’

Brooks also told the inquiry that Cameron sent her a ‘keep your head up’ message when she quit News International in July 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal led to the News of the World’s closure.

She said that she got ‘indirect messages’ from ‘Number 10, Number 11, the Home Office and the Foreign Office’ and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, but ex-PM Gordon Brown was ‘probably getting the bunting out’.

On her relationship with News Corporation executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, she said ‘in the main, on the big issues we had similar views’ but they disagreed over issues including the environment, immigration and font size.

The inquiry heard she became close friends with Blair and his wife Cherie, as well as his spin doctor Alastair Campbell and his partner.

But she said she did not exchange texts or emails with Blair because ‘he did not have a mobile phone or in fact, I think, use a computer when he was prime minister’.

Asked whose side she was on in the long-running feud between Brown and Blair, she said she was ‘on the side of my readers’.

But she added that in the 2006 ‘curry house coup’, where a group of MPs agreed to call for Mr Blair’s resignation, ‘we did take Mr Blair’s side because the country was on ice because of the hostilities’.

Brooks said that, according to her former personal assistant’s ‘very incomplete’ diary, she met or dined with Blair at least 30 times between 1998 and 2007.

And after Brown took over as prime minister in 2007, she met or dined with Brown at least five times, including once at his home.

She recorded one lunch and four dinners with Mr Cameron in 2010, including a Christmas dinner party on 23 December.

Asked later whether Cameron had backed News Corp’s bid for control of BSkyB, Brooks said he was ‘not particularly’ supportive.

Jay asked her if the Chancellor, Osborne, supported the bid.

She said he was ‘interested in our arguments’.

In further questioning, Brooks refused to name the source of the story from 2006 about Gordon Brown’s son Fraser being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

She denied she got the story through ‘subterfuge’ but conceded there had been a payment made, she added, to a charity.

Brooks rejected a suggestion that the Sun had hacked into Fraser’s medical records.

Later she confirmed the Sun had set up the ‘Baby-P’ petition calling for Sharon Shoesmith to be sacked but denied she had phoned the then education secretary Ed Balls to demand the sacking.

See also here. And here.

Former News of the World Editor Rebekah Brooks Confirms Close Contact With Top British Leaders: here.

Senior Labour MP Chris Bryant accused Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s office of committing “a criminal offence” if it passed information to News International relating to its bid to control BSkyB: here.

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