So, how did Rebekah Brooks end up borrowing a police horse?


Scotland Yard helped the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks to go out hacking, it was revealed yesterday – but the arrangement owed nothing to the interception of mobile phone messages.

Instead the Metropolitan Police loaned the flame-haired newspaper executive a loyal steed which she used to hack ("to ride a horse in the country for pleasure": Oxford English Dictionary) across the Cotswolds for nearly two years. The horse was loaned to Ms Brooks by the Met's Mounted Branch in 2008, a year after the News of the World's Clive Goodman was jailed for phone hacking. The revelation raises further concerns over the relationship between Rupert Murdoch's media empire and Britain's largest police force, which has been criticised for the inadequacy of its initial investigation into criminality at News International.

Most horses that are retired by the Met's Mounted Branch are placed with the Horse Charity Trust in Buckinghamshire. Ms Brooks is an enthusiastic horsewoman and is married to the race-horse trainer Charlie Brooks. They live on a farm near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, where the horse was stabled until 2010. She is also a member of the Heythrop Hunt, which is also supported by her friend and neighbour Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear presenter and NI columnist.

Earlier this week, the Leveson Inquiry into media standards heard that Ms Brooks, 43, had been briefed on the original hacking inquiry by a senior Met officer. She was arrested last July by police carrying out a new investigation into phone hacking and bribery at News International, having resigned from the company days earlier. Ms Brooks's spokes-man, David Wilson, claimed yesterday that the loan of the horse was nothing more than a good deed performed by the former News of the World and Sun editor. "Rebekah acted as a foster carer for the horse," he said.

When the steed was no longer fit enough to be ridden, it was sent to a retirement paddock in Norfolk where it was cared for by a serving police officer. By that point Ms Brooks was chief executive of NI and Scotland Yard was under intense pressure to reopen its investigation into phone hacking following fresh revelations.

The Met confirmed the loan of the horse in a statement. "Whilst responsibility for feeding the animal and paying vet bills passes to the person entrusted to its care at its new home, the horse remains the property of the Metropolitan Police service," it said. "In 2008 a retired MPS horse was loaned to Rebekah Brooks. The horse was subsequently rehoused with a police officer in 2010."

News of the "gift horse" caused astonishment and mirth in media and political circles yesterday. An incredulous Tom Watson MP, who has become a bitter enemy of Ms Brooks during the course of the phone-hacking scandal, tweeted: "At least the horse's head didn't end up in my bed."

For a guide to who's who at the Leveson Inquiry click HERE

Suggested Topics
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits