Rebekah Brooks at Leveson inquiry
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, today concluded giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry after five hours of exchanges going one-to-one with counsel Robert Jay.
She was questioned in great detail about her friendship with David Cameron and also with previous prime ministers. Much of the questioning revolved around how much influence that gave the Murdoch Empire. There were also questions on the BSkyB deal and phone hacking.
There were glimpses of texts, conversations about dinners and talks about some of the campaigns that were run by The Sun newspaper.
There were key allegations that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, was working out how to deal with a massive phone hacking scandal. He privately and secretly went behind the public to a senior advisor at News Corporation and asked his advice on what should be done to guide the government.
Questions were asked about the closeness of the relationship between Rebekah Brooks, a pivotal person in the Murdoch Empire, and the government. It was not just with David Cameron, but also with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. When she stepped down from her job at News International over phone hacking revelations, she received commiseration from No. 10, No. 11 and the Foreign Home Office. David Cameron had sent her a text saying “to keep your head up, apologise for not being helpful enough” as he was “on the run from Ed Miliband”. A trivial detail was also added on how David Cameron signed off his texts with “LOL” (lots of love).
The BskyB deal was much scrutinised with the culture secretary and Rebekah Brooks said she had an informal role and did not miss an opportunity to push the case with those alliances who were opposing the bid. At a key dinner with three couples including George Osbourne, they had discussed the issue.
Another sequence of questions asked, were about conversations with Rebekah Brooks and the Prime Minister regarding phone hacking in 2010. He sought to find out about the civil cases, but fell short to ask any questions about Andy Coulson, the man who had to stand down due to the conviction of phone hacking.
Campaigns ran by The Sun with allegations about underlying threats to government ministers were raised, indicating too much power exercised by a tabloid paper. An example was a threat to No. 10 when it wanted a review by the Metropolitan Police of the handling of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann among other matters.
Towards the end, there were tense exchanges with Brooks accusing Robert Jay of trivialities including her relationship with Robert Murdoch. One question about going swimming with Murdoch wouldn’t have come up if she was a man working in Fleet Street, but because of her gender. The questions from here on won’t be on her, but on Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron and Labour politicians too.