Hacking trial: Tony Blair wrote to Rebekah Brooks offering help over revelations that the NOTW had accessed murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone, court told
The former PM wrote: 'Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I have been through things like this'
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Tuesday 04 March 2014
During the “gathering storm” that engulfed News International following the revelation that the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, Tony Blair wrote to Rebekah Brooks with an offer to help, the Old Bailey has heard.
The former prime minister emailed the then chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s UK print division on 5 July 2011. A day earlier The Guardian newspaper had published the Dowler story, which was later widely ascribed as the catalyst that led to the closure of the top-selling Sunday tabloid.
The court heard Mrs Brooks describe the details of the hacking and the suggestion that Milly’s mother subsequently believed that her daughter might still be alive as “horrific”. She described a comment from the Dowler family’s lawyer that a painful moment of “false hope” had been created as “bottom of the barrel” and “obscene”.
The allegation that there had been deliberate deletions from Milly’s phone was later proved to be untrue.
The mounting political pressure on NI was described by Mrs Brooks in an email read out to the court as “a proper Guardian-Old Labour-BBC hit”. In Mr Blair’s email to Mrs Brooks, he wrote: “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help”, adding: “Thinking of you. I have been through things like this.” Mrs Brooks wrote back telling Mr Blair: “Thank you, I know what it is like. GB [Gordon Brown] pals getting their own back. Rupert and James [Murdoch] have been brilliant. Hopefully even in this climate the truth will out.”
The jury heard that other offers of support came from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan and other senior journalists within NI. Mr Morgan, a former colleague of Mrs Brooks at the NOTW, wrote: “It never rains but it f***ing pours. Grit your teeth and stay strong.”
Giving evidence for an eighth day, Mrs Brooks, 45, said she had received death threats in the wake of the Guardian story.
She along with six others faces charges of conspiracy to hack phones, bribing public officials and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
All the charges are denied by the defendants. The case continues.
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