This was our live coverage of the Leveson inquiry into press standards on the day Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International and ex-editor of The Sun and the News of the World, took the stand to face questions from Robert Jay, QC.
16.30 That’s it for our live coverage of Leveson today. See FT.com for news and reaction. Ben Fenton’s news story on the BSkyB bid elements to Brooks’ evidence is here. And we’ll leave you with Ben’s take on the day:
So, that was five hours in the witness box for Rebekah Brooks and at the end of it I don’t feel a whole lot wiser. We know that the government was lobbied by NI and News Corp over the Sky bid and now we know that this included taking a line on phone hacking – assuming that the email from NC’s lobbyist Fred Michel wasn’t a complete fantasy. We know that George Osborne discussed the Sky bid at a dinner with Mrs Brooks not long before his boss the prime minister did the same with James Murdoch and Mrs B at her Oxfordshire home.
Beyond that, we have been told how important the holy virtues of journalism are to Mrs Brooks, especially the importance of not allowing one’s personal relationships with politicians or anyone else to compromise one’s independence and journalistic objectivity. No journalist would agree that the story was ever more important than the truth, she said.
It is tempting to say that if that last remark of Mrs Brooks was entirely true, there would be no need for a Press Complaints Commission, let alone a Leveson inquiry.
Mrs Brooks retained her cool almost all the time, but there were moments when Robert Jay’s questioning of her integrity seemed to get her hot under the dainty white collar. Similarly, both he and Sir Brian Leveson seemed exasperated at times by her refusal to be distracted from her message.
My personal favourite moment of the day was Mrs Brooks complaining that these highly paid lawyers had been troubling her with questions that verged on trivial gossip – the loan of a retired police horse, what Rupert Murdoch gave her for her 40th birthday.
16.27 Twitter is abuzz with reaction to Brooks’ evidence.
Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has been a vocal member of the parliamentary committee looking at phone-hacking (see 14.04), says:
This from BBC political editor Nick Robinson:
Paul Waugh, the editor of PoliticsHome, Tweets:
16.20 Apart from David Cameron’s misuse of text-speak (see 12.29), the centrepiece of the day’s exchanges would seem to be the Frederic Michel emails (see 14.45 and 15.35).
Once again, Jeremy Hunt’s judgement is under question after the release of another email by Michel, the lobbyist who worked for News Corporation, says Jim Pickard, an FT political correspondent.
It shows that Michel already knew the gist of what the culture secretary would be saying in a statement later in the week in June 2011. As such, it again reveals the backchannels between the company and Mr Hunt – who was supposed to be maintaining a quasi-judicial role in relation the company’s bid for BSkyB.
The government’s defence will be the same as it was when a tranche of Michel’s emails was first released in late April, leading to calls by Labour for the culture secretary’s resignation. That is, that Michel had not been talking directly to Hunt or communicating with him at all. Instead he had been dealing with Adam Smith, Hunt’s special adviser, who has since resigned over the scandal.
Michel’s own credibility has been undermined after he admitted that when he referred in emails to “JH” he had been talking to Smith, not Hunt. Brooks herself said earlier today that: “I often felt Mr Michel over-egged his position.”
Yet the coalition’s ability to ride out this storm depends on the idea that Hunt had no idea what Smith was up to during this period –which in itself would not exactly enhance the minister’s reputation.
15.59 And with that, Brooks’ evidence draws to a close. Leveson lets her go and move to other business of the inquiry.
15.57 Leveson is intervening again about the amount of access the most senior journalists get to top politicians. He is at pains to stress that such contacts may be entirely appropriate. But he says to Brooks:
I’m not saying there’s a Faustian bargain … it’s rather more subtle than that. It’s just a recognition that if two people, a journalist and a politician, are on the same page, they may support each other. That may be fair enough. The question is how one can ensure there sufficient openness and transparency about that … that everyone is satisfied that all decisions are being made … without influence that people don’t know about.
Brooks counters that, while Leveson is right in terms of using access to further commercial interests, journalists meet their contacts not to advance business interests but “to get a good story”. Leveson is not so sure: he says “it all gets a bit fuzzy” when it comes to, say, journalists talking to politicians to argue for or against the BSkyB bid.
Before that exchange Brooks had said that if a prime minister ever put their friendships or their loyalties to a media group before their duties to the media that would be a “terrible failure”.
15.42 Now we’re onto questions about press freedom and whether or not it is endangered by inaccurately in the media. Jay spends some time on The Sun’s paedophile campaign — during which one member of the public to target a paediatrician.
The FT’s Ben Fenton tweets.
Brooks grows testy again, recalling Jay’s questions about her relationship with Murdoch. This from FT media correspondent Megan Murphy:
15.38 Megan Murphy, the FT’s media correspondent who is watching proceedings at the inquiry today, sends this:
Brooks’ mood in court appeared to darken after disclosure of the Michel email (see 14.45 and 15.35). She knows that will make headlines tomorrow and significantly increase pressure on Hunt. Before that, she had tip-toed pretty carefully around the BSkyB bid and her personal relationships with Cameron and Osborne.
15.35 The email from Frederic Michel, the News Corp lobbyist, regarding Jeremy Hunt, the minister responsible for overseeing the approval process for the the group’s bid for BSkyB (see 14.45), has been shown on the evidence screen at the Leveson inquiry. Reporters from the Guardian took down the text thus:
Fred Michel to Rebekah Brooks:
27 June 2011 16:29
Hunt will be making references to phone hacking in his statement on Rubicon this week.
He will be repeating the same narrative as the one he gave in Parliament few weeks ago.
This is based on his belief that the police is pursing things thoroughly and phone hacking has nothing to do with the media plurality issues.
It’s extremely helpful.
On the issue of the privacy committee he supports a widening of its remit to the future of the press and evidence from all newspaper groups on the regulatory regime.
He wants to prevent a public inquiry. For this the committee will need to come up a strong report in the autumn and put enough pressure on the PCC to strength itself and take recommendations forward.
JH is now starting to looking to phone hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and No 10′s positioning…
Brooks to Michel:
Jun 27 2011 17:30
When is the Rubicon statement?
Michel to Brooks:
15.04 Jay is spending some time going over The Sun’s revelation that Gordon Brown’s son Fraser had cystic fibrosis. Leveson intervenes to ask whether this intro to a subsequent Sun story about Brown’s claims that the paper had hacked his son’s medical records…
THE Sun today exposes the allegation that we hacked into Gordon Brown’s family medical records as FALSE and a smear.
… was justified. Brooks stands by the coverage.
14.45 The FT’s Ben Fenton reckons we’ve got something potentially of significance. It relates to an email received by Brooks and sent by Frederic Michel, News Corp’s lobbyist, regarding Jeremy Hunt, the minister with responsibility for regulating the bid.
We should say, though, that Michel has said that, in other emails previously published, when he refers to Jeremy Hunt, he in fact means a Hunt advisor, Adam Smith. Smith has since resigned.
14.30 Some friction, as Jay pushes Brooks on what was or wasn’t said at a late 2010 dinner with George Osborne, at which News Corp’s bid for BSkyB was discussed.
Brooks confirms that she and her husband were present, as were the chancellor and his wife. Jay wants to know details of a discussion between Brooks and Osborne about the “issues letter” Ofcom had just produced, outlining questions that News Corp needed to answer as it sought approval for the BSkyB transaction. Brooks says:
I probably brought it up. I would have discussed our frustration at the time at what was going on.
My main involvement in the BSkyB bid if you like was informal. Nothing to do with the transaction but in response to the huge amount of lobbying by the anti-Sky bid lobby.
Jay persists. What exactly was discussed?
I don’t remember [there being] a detailed conversation at a social dinner about the complexities of an issues letter from Ofcom.
Brooks says her memory is hazy but that the conversation lasted “three minutes”.
Jay pushes again. He thinks that if Brooks remembers how long the conversation lasted she might recall who initiated it. Brooks bristles and complains that she is being asked to guess, prompting Leveson to intervene and say she is not. Brooks says:
I can’t remember who brought it up but I’m happy for argument’s sake, Mr Jay, to accept that I did.
Was the conversation an appropriate, Jay asks.
It was an entirely appropriate conversation. I was reflecting the opposite view to the view [Osborne] had heard from pretty much every member of the anti-Sky bid lobby.
14.12 We’re back on the News Corp bid for BSkyB and whether Brooks discussed it with the most powerful men in the country. She says:
There were occasions when I defended the bid.
Brooks goes back to talking about an “anti-Sky bid alliance” in the media, which she says included Sky’s commercial rivals. She said she discussed the bid with both Cameron and Osborne but says they were “general conversations”.
I just don’t remember having a particularly forceful conversation with mr Cameron about it.
Jay wonders whether Cameron shared her views in support of the bid.
Mr Cameron always made it very clear that it was a quasi-judicial decision and it wasn’t him. He, I think, had been lobbied by lots of other people.
But was he supportive, asks Jay.
He understands why we wanted to put our view in relation to the other lobbying he he’s getting.
And George Osborne?
If that kind of level of investment was comign into the UK, contrary … we thought that in call centres around the country, the creation of jobs, we would try to put those arguments to Mr Osborne. But they all said the same thing: it’s not my decision.
14.04 Ding ding, round two. Jay launches into questions about Tom Watson, the Labour MP who sits on the committee that has been looking into phone-hacking and has been a thorn in News Corp’s side. Jay wants to know if The Sun ran stories — untrue stories, Jay suggests — to take the fight back to Watson.
Does Brooks feel she might have used The Sun to disparage politicians she didn’t like?
No. I don’t think that.
13.12 The hearing has broken for lunch and will resume at 14.00. In the meantime, Jim Pickard, FT political correspondent, has been going over Brooks’ two written witness statements to the Leveson inquiry. Here are some highlights.
On political influence
Brooks writes that some commentators want to end all regular contact between press and politicians in private. “Such a view would be entirely wrong.”
She says she spoke regularly with Cameron when he was leader of the opposition. But she has not been to Downing St since he became PM. However, she points out that her husband is an old friend of his since schooldays.
Brooks says that it was a “myth” that she ever had any influence over cabinet appointments. It was “preposterous” to think a PM or party leader would be “dictated to” by her. But she admits that The Sun has sometimes called for individuals to be sacked, or resign, or be suspended. “I cannot say what influence these articles had on their futures.”
She admits that she was on one occasion able to change tax law:
For instance, we were able to lobby a chancellor of the exchequer that a proposed change in policy, which would affect cheap flights, would be seen as a tax on the less fortunate, including many of our readers, and the policy was withdrawn.
On her records
As she said in her oral evidence earlier, Brooks says in her written statement that she has had no access to her work emails. She only had access to emails and texts on her Blackberry at the time she left News International.
On Murdoch’s influence over his newspapers’ stance
“It is not possible that an editor of the Sun or the News of the World would support a party in an election without discussing it with him,” she writes. But she still thinks that the readership was the biggest influence on the political stance.
I don’t remember one politician not asking for support from The Sun.
On the allegations of malpractice at the Murdoch tabloids
Brooks says that at a senior editorial level the issue of whether there was a “public interest justification” for stories was often discussed. She says she was “horrified” when she heard about the failures at the News of the World. She is deeply sorry about the “further anguish” caused to the parents of Milly Dowler’s parents.
Brooks talks about the Press Complaints Commission code and how from 2003 a new clause banned payments to criminals: “This, of course, included a public interest exemption,” she points out. In 2004 a new clause banned clandestine devices and subterfuge except if there was no other way of gaining information in the public interest. In 2007 it was extended to include accessing digitally-held private information without consent.
She says that the use of private investigators is now “virtually extinct”. Brooks herself “rarely” commissioned investigators, although she did so to trace convicted paedophiles for the Sarah’s Law campaign.
Discussing payments to sources, she writes that the relevant department head would be in charge of such decisions and any payment would go through the managing editor’s office. The editor would only be made aware for “large, one-off payments” such as a set of exclusive photographs. After 2007 News International tightened up the practice of cash payments to the extent that they became a “small percentage of the budget”.
On The Sun’s readers
She writes that The Sun went to great efforts to understand readers’ concerns: every year she organised for “millions of readers” to go on bargain holidays; she would attend an annual caravan park holiday with Sun readers to discuss concerns. “It was considered a sackable offence for any member of staff to be disrespectful to a reader’s point of view.”
On life at the top
There was no work/lifestyle balance. Work was the lifestyle, as is the case with most newspaper journalists.
Brooks writes that she has never “abused my friendships” to gain access to information.
She says that before the Bribery Act came into force it was “not uncommon” to buy wine or flowers for political contacts as a thank-you or congratulations. For example, she would send cases of wine to the paedophile unit at New Scotland Yard while working on the Sarah’s Law Campaign.
She writes says that she was close friends with Cherie Blair, Alastair Campbell and his partner Fiona Miller. She says the infamous “pyjama party” with Sarah Brown, Elisabeth Murdoch and Wendi Murdoch was held because “Sarah was concerned that I had not planned any birthday celebrations.”
12.51 We now have a news story on the morning’s initial exchanges, courtesy of the FT’s Ben Fenton.
Rebekah Brooks told the Leveson inquiry on Friday she had only incomplete information about her contacts with politicians such as Tony Blair and David Cameron because News International, her previous employer, had retained them.
The former chief executive of NI was under scrutiny by the inquiry over how she cultivated contacts with top politicians and what this gained for her and her business in exchange. She said that “Tony Blair and his circle were a constant presence in my life” during her period as an editor first at the News of the World and more so at The Sun.
But she demurred when Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, suggested that she had been fed titbits of information by Mr Blair’s government in return for political support from The Sun.
12.43 Brooks spoke earlier of The Sun’s fondness for dramatic election endorsements. Our picture desk has dug out three classics. In chronological order:
12.39 After the exchanges about Cameron, Jay has moved on to News Corp’s proposed bid for BSkyB.
The FT’s Ben Fenton writes:
Rebekah Brooks has just told the inquiry she knew about News Corp’s proposed bid for BSkyB before the general election in 2010, which was about six weeks before a public announcement. Sir Brian Leveson asked her if her contacts with politicians were useful to her ultimate bosses at News Corp in helping the bid. She said not at first, but she did have a use later after the “anti-Sky alliance”.
Incidentally, Brooks said the FT was part of that “anti-Sky alliance”. It wasn’t, although it did sign a letter earlier in the process alongside other media owners.
Mrs Brooks seemed to tell the inquiry that she had mentioned the Sky bid at a dinner just before Christmas 2010 when David Cameron was guest at a dinner at her home. Previously, the inquiry had heard from James Murdoch that he spoke privately to the prime minister about the bid that evening. Brooks said the subject came up in conversation because it was in the news. Two days earlier Vince Cable the business secretary had been stripped of his powers to regulate the bid after telling undercover reporters he had “declared war on Mr [Rupert] Murdoch”.
Meanwhile, Jim Pickard in the FT’s Westminster office has been going through Brooks’ written witness statements, released this morning by the Leveson inquiry.
In her written testimony Brooks says she never had any “inappropriate” conversations with anyone who had influence over the BSkyB bid. She also points out the bid was by News Corporation while she was chief executive of the separate News International.
She admits she did refer to the general issue with David Cameron and George Osborne — but in the context of the anti-Sky alliance of newspapers, not on detailed matters.
Exhibit KRM/18 shows that she emailed Frederic Michel, in response to an email on December 14, 2010, stating: “Same from GO – total bafflement at response.” This seems to refer to the Ofcom “issues letter” that had been sent a few days before, she believes. She presumes that GO is “George Osborne.” She had seen him socially the previous evening. But she says that whatever was discussed must have been “brief and inconsequential”.
12.29 At last, some meat. Jay asks about news reports that she and Cameron exchanged 12 texts a day. The figure is “preposterous”, says Brooks. It was more like once a week, twice in the run-up to the 2010 elections. “One would hope as leader of the opposition or prime minister he had better things to do” than message her, Brooks says.
What were the messages they did exchange about?
Some if not the majority were to do with organisation – meeting up or arranging to speak. Some were about a social occasion and occasionally some would be my own comments on a TV debate or something like that.
Brooks says Cameron and Brooks met three or four times in the first months of 2010. Jay offers one for the punters. “Everybody wants to know how his texts are signed off,” he says.
He would sign them off ‘DC’ in the main. Occasionally he would sign them off LOL – “lot’s of love” – until I told him it meant ‘laugh out loud’, then he didn’t do that any more.
They go over various other meetings, including Cameron’s birthday party in October 2010. Then Jay moves onto a crucial area. Was there any communication following between Cameron and Brooks about the July 2011 Guardian on phone hacking in the Milly Dowler case? He warns Brooks not to say anything too specific, given that she is under police investigation. She says:
No I don’t think I did have any direct contact.
Jay asks: did you discuss the phone hacking allegations with Cameron between the July ’09 Guardian story on hacking and your departure from News International?
Yes I did.
Maybe once or twice … because the phone hacking story was a sort of a constant, or it kept coming up … but in the most general terms. Maybe in 2010 we had a more specific conversation about it. It was nothing particularly that he wouldn’t have said publicly but he was interested in the latest developments.
Jay asks whether Cameron was concerned that hacking went beyond ex-News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Probably, yes. It was a general conversation in late 2010 about the increase in the civil cases [related to alleged phone hacking].
She stresses that the conversation involved “no secret information, no privilege information, just a general update”.
Jay wants to know whether he asked about Andy Couslon and possible second thoughts about his appointment at Number 10.
Is Brooks sure?
12.03 So far, Number 10 will be pretty relaxed about all this. Brooks’ testimony paints a picture of a chummy relationship between top-rank politicians and tabloid editors, but that is hardly the scoop of the century.
Jay ploughs on. Fear of personal attack from The Sun has been a factor in what politicians do and don’t do, he says. Brooks acknowledges that Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader might have thought so but does not accept that others do. She objects to Jay’s suggestion that The Sun invades politicians’ private lives intrusively and repeats her mantra of the morning: that the Murdoch tabloids gave voice to the views of their readers.
Jay spends a fair bit of time on The Sun’s stories about an error-strewn letter Gordon Brown sent to the grieving mother of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan. Brooks describes a subsequent conversation with the then PM in which she accepted that the coverage had been too personal an attack on him. Jay asks whether she had News International’s commercial interest in mind.
Not at any point of the conversation with Mr Brown did I think if he wins it will go against the interests of The Sun. He was just incredibly aggressive and angry.
11.46 When the endorsement for the Tories did come, Jay asks, did Brooks speak to Cameron in advance?
No I didn’t – I was too busy. My main concern was to try to speak to Mr Brown.
11.32 Jay has moved on to Brooks’ relationship with David Cameron. This ranks among the central questions for the inquiry: precisely how cosy was the prime minister with one of Britain’s most powerful media executives, a key figure in the Murdoch empire?
Cameron attended a New Year’s Eve party in 2008, Brooks confirms, at her family farm. She stresses that it was her sister-in-law’s bash, to make the point that the Brooks and Cameron families had connections independently of Rebekah’s.
Brooks says she saw Murdoch and Cameron discuss Europe at a meeting in Greece and the pair had other conversations to which she was not privy. She adds that Cameron was told that the Murdoch press would throw its weight behind him ahead of the 2010 election but not when they would publish their endorsement.
Ben Fenton, the FT’s Leveson man, reckons Brooks is growing in assured after a jittery start.
As the evidence proceeds, Brooks was getting more confident now, with an air that she could deal with whatever Jay can throw at her.
She says quite openly that she did not really take sides in the Blair/Brown spat until near its end and did not get tidbits from the government in return for favours. That is certainly an alternative view to what has been written about the period in UK political history.
The inquiry is moving on to the Cameron days now, so the coalition government will be getting nervous. But if she is as anodyne in her evidence as she has been about their Labour predecessors, it will be relief all round.
11.03 Some sparring. Jay asks Brooks whether Blair planted a story with her. She smilingly refuses to reveal her sources. She pokes Jay about where he gets his information and he refuses to reveal his sources. Brooks quips:
“We’ll play this game all day.”
10.53 Ben Fenton, the FT’s in-house Leveson expert, sends these thoughts on the early exchanges.
Rebekah Brooks began her evidence reluctant to give precise answers to questions about her contact with politicians. She said she had commiserations when she quit as chief executive of News Intl from “no 10, No. 11, the Home Office, the Foreign Office” rather than naming individual politicians.
She seemed nervous in the opening moments of her evidence, but relaxed a little when she managed to make a joke at the expense of Robert Jay QC, the counsel for the inquiry. He was repeating a series of gossipy stories about her and she asked where they came from.
“Oh, various sources,” Jay said, a remark that evoked laughter because of its resemblance to a journalist’s reply. Brooks said: “You need better sources, Mr Jay.” Like her friend Andy Coulson, she’s dressed soberly in dark colours, with a prim white collar. She speaks in very level tones, being very polite to Jay and to Sir Brian Leveson. Unsurprisingly, she wishes to cause as little controversy as possible. That will be her aim for the day, to emulate Coulson’s performance, which prompted few stark headlines this morning.
10.49 Jay is looking back at the Labour governments to gauge whether Brooks’ friendships or attitudes drove coverage. He wonders what steps Brooks took to counter New Labour’s spin machine. She says any journalist does not just gather information but tries to analyse and test it. As an aside, Brooks says Gordon Brown and his top aide Charlie Whelan were, contrary to popular belief, much bigger spinners than Blair and Alastair Campbell.
Who’s side was she on during the years of hostility between Blair and Brown? She says she was on neither side, except “the reader’s”. After acknowledging her close friendship with Blair, she is asked whether she had a similar relationship with his successor. She was friends with Sarah Brown, the ex-PM’s wife, but accepts that “by the end” she was friendlier with Blair than Gordon Brown.
10.41 Back to her relationship with politicians, in particular Tony Blair. Brooks and Blair met at many formal and informal occasions, according to Brooks’ witness statement. He was at her 40th birthday party.
“I think it became more frequent when I became editor of The Sun. Mr Blair flew out to a News Corp conference in 1995 and I probably met him shortly after that.”
Did she become friendly with Blair? Yes. But there were no exchanges by SMS or email because Blair, Brooks says, didn’t use a mobile or a computer while he was PM. They spoke by landline or met in person.
Tony Blair’s advisers put a huge store on certain newspapers and they made a shift change from John Major’s government in terms of trying to get as much access to newspapers as possible.
10.33 Jay is trying to establish how closely Murdoch and Brooks worked while she was editing his papers. Frequently it was the case that she spoke to Murdoch every day, Brooks says.
10.29 I’m grateful to my colleague Emily Cadman for spotting an online game of Leveson bingo.
10.27 Those opening exchanges shed a little light on the world of the British elite, where the holders of the highest elected offices in the land (well, with the exception of Gordon Brown) keep in touch with editors of the biggest-selling newspapers by text message. It Even when she fell from grace, messages of condolence flowed in.
Now Jay has moved to the the editorial line of Murdoch’s papers, pushing Brooks on how much control he exerted over said line.
Brooks says she doesn’t think Murdoch’s statement to Leveson that if people want to know what he thinks they should read the Sun’s editorials was “literal”.
We disagreed about quite a few things, more in the margins of it than principles – the environment, DNA database, immigration, top-up fees, the amount of celebrity in the paper versus serious issues, headlines, font size … We had a lot of disagreements but in the main we had the same views.
10.18 Jay opens up with questions about messages from politicians Brooks received. He asks if she got messages of commiseration or support when she resigned in July 2011.
Brooks says she got some but they were “mainly indirect”.
They came from “a variety – some Tories, very few Labour politicians”.
Jay asks her to elaborate.
“I received some indirect messages from Number 10, Number 11, Home Office, Foreign Office.”
Does that mean the PM and chancellor, asks Jay.
“Also people who worked in those offices,” she replied. The message from Cameron was broadly along the lines that have been reported, that he told her to “keep her head up”.
She says Blair did indeed send her a message. Jay asks: Gordon Brown too?
“No – he was probably getting the bunting out.”
10.08 Jay goes through Brooks’ glittering career, various editorships culminating in the top job at the Sun before taking over at NI. He notes that there will be limits on her evidence today because of the police probe into hacking.
10.06 We’re off. Brooks has just taken the oath.
09.58 The hearing should be under way shortly.
Sky has a story about messages between Brooks and ex-PM (and godfather to a Murdoch daughter) Tony Blair, which prompts Ben Fenton, the FT’s Mr Leveson, to wonder:
Meanwhile, it already looks as though Brooks is facing a long day in the saddle…
09.50 Good morning. After Andy Coulson yesterday, it is Rebecca Brooks’ turn for a grilling today. She is likely to face questions about her relationship with David Cameron and No 10, her neighbour in Oxfordshire.
Just to remind ourselves, the inquiry was set up in July 2011 after it emerged that News of the World staff hacked the mobile phone of Milly Dowler, the murdered Surrey schoolgirl. The resulting furore led Brooks to quit as chief executive of News Iinternational, parent company of Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper businesses. Brooks has been arrested by detectives investigating criminal activities at NI’s east London headquarters.
Inquiry lawyers will not be allowed to ask Brooks any questions that could prejudice the police investigation into phone hacking or any future trials.
All eyes will be on the Leveson Inquiry website to see if there will be a release of fresh documents from Brooks.
The FT’s George Parker covered the fresh revelations that hit Cameron earlier in the week:
An updated biography of Mr Cameron gives a flavour of things to come by claiming that the prime minister texted the media chief and former Sun editor to tell her to keep her head up shortly before she resigned.
The book claims that Mr Cameron told Mrs Brooks that she would get through her difficulties, but contact then came to an “abrupt halt” after the resignation, according to extracts in The Times.
No 10 has been given advance sight of Mrs Brooks’s evidence to the Leveson inquiry into press standards and has been poring over her submission ahead of what – for Mr Cameron – could be a toe-curling evidence session.