David Cameron 'texted Rebekah Brooks before she resigned over Dowler affair'
New biography throws spotlight on closeness of relationship between PM and former Sun editor
Following stints with Reuters and the Press Association, Martin Hickman joined The Independent as a news editor in 2001. He became the Consumer Affairs Correspondent in September 2005 and has run the paper's trenchant campaigns on packaging, bank charges and factory-farmed chicken. He writes on subjects as diverse as food, finance, energy and fashion. With Tom Watson, he is author of a new book on the phone hacking scandal, Dial M for Murdoch - News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain.
Wednesday 09 May 2012
David Cameron privately sent Rebekah Brooks a message of support as his government was publicly condemning her newspaper group for hacking Milly Dowler's phone, it emerged last night.
In the week before she resigned as chief executive of News International over the targeting of the missing schoolgirl, the Prime Minister texted Mrs Brooks last July to tell her to keep her head up and that she would "get through" her difficulties, according to a new biography of the Conservative leader.
Days later the Prime Minister sent an emissary to explain to Mrs Brooks that he could not back her publicly because of the political pressure caused by the scandal, according to authors Francis Elliot of The Times and James Hanning, deputy editor of The Independent on Sunday.
In the updated biography, Cameron: Practically a Conservative, they lay bare the closeness of the relationship between Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks, confirming that despite the misgivings of some senior Tories, they would regularly "pop round to one another's houses" in south Oxfordshire. The relationship bore fruit politically, with all of News International's newspapers, The Sun, Times, Sunday Times and News of the World endorsing the Conservatives at the 2010 general election.
Referring to the regular visits between the two, the authors write in the book, serialised in The Times today: "The wider public might have liked to know too of the text message that [Mrs Brooks's husband] Charlie Brooks told friends Cameron sent to Brooks at the beginning of the week in which she resigned, telling her to keep her head up and she'd get through her difficulties. Such contact came to an abrupt halt soon afterwards, with Brooks not wanting to embarrass Cameron and he wanting to be able to say, hand on heart, that they had not been in touch.
"But it was claimed that Cameron did send an emissary to Brooks to mitigate his sudden coldness towards her. The gist of the message was, 'Sorry I couldn't have been as loyal to you as you have been to me, but Ed Miliband had me on the run'."
Of Mrs Brooks – who was later arrested on suspicion of phone hacking, corruption and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – the Conservative frontbencher Oliver Letwin said: "If you are on the same side as her, you have to see her every week. This was how it worked. It was what was demanded if you wanted them on your side."
He told the authors: "All of us should have said, 'We'll have nothing to do with them and we'll only meet them when we absolutely have to'. But the problem with that is if the other guy is doing it... That game is over, thank God."
Downing Street is said to be nervous about the evidence Mrs Brooks gives on Friday at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, amid speculation that it will include text messages between her and the Prime Minister.
Another tough day for the Government looms tomorrow when the inquiry hears from Mr Cameron's former director of communications, Andy Coulson. Mr Coulson was taken on by Mr Cameron months after he resigned as editor of the News of the World in January 2007 over the jailing of a journalist for hacking the phones of royal aides. According to the new book, aides warned Mr Cameron against taking Mr Coulson into Downing Street after the 2010 election.
* An emergency appeal asking for "partisan" Government advisers not to be given advance access to key witness statements and documents at the Leveson Inquiry will be considered by Lord Justice Leveson.
This week, with the inquiry hearing potentially controversial evidence from both the former editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, and News International's former chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, a group of civil rights lobby groups has demanded that so-called "spads", or special advisers, should not have the right to see, alter or redact witness statements.
Lord Justice Leveson was expected to announce his decision at the start of today's hearing.
Coulson wins legal aid appeal
Andy Coulson kicked off a busy week yesterday. In Court 71 of the High Court he won the right to an appeal relating to his legal bills. On Friday, he'll be back – in Court 73 at the Leveson Inquiry. Looking relaxed, he told The Independent the legal process was "a long journey" that still had some way to go.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...