Hacking trial: Tony Blair advised Rebekah Brooks before her arrest, jury told

She sought his guidance at height of crisis at the News of the World, say prosecutors

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair offered his services as an "unofficial adviser" to Rebekah Brooks six days before her arrest at the height of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, a court has heard.

Prosecutors in the hacking trial at the Old Bailey read out an email Ms Brooks sent to newspaper boss James Murdoch, allegedly containing notes she made during an hour-long conversation with the former prime minister.

According to the email, Mr Blair told the former NotW and Sun editor to "tough up", take sleeping pills and set up an independent "Hutton-style" inquiry that would clear their names in due course.

Mr Blair allegedly suggested "no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches", the court heard.

Members of the jury were shown an email Ms Brooks sent to Mr Murdoch at 4.21pm 11 July 2011, just days before she was arrested by police.

In it, she relayed the telephone conversation she apparently had with the former Labour premier in five key points, which the court was told were:

"1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact-checkers, etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton-style report.

"2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept your shortcomings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.

"3. Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches.

"4. It will pass. Tough up.

"5. He is available for you (James Murdoch), KRM (Rupert Murdoch) and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us.

"He is sending more notes later."

While the mention of a "Hutton-style inquiry" was not explained in court today, it appears to be a reference to Lord Hutton's investigation into the death of government weapons expert David Kelly.

Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies all charges in the phone hacking trial.