Rebekah Brooks denies making threats to MPs


Ellen Branagh,James Tapsfield
Friday 11 May 2012 17:19

Rebekah Brooks today denied using her clout to get her own way with Government ministers.

The former News International chief executive told the Leveson Inquiry she did not threaten to put Home Secretary Theresa May on the front page of The Sun if she did not order a review into Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

She also denied demanding that David Cameron "move" shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve after his views were expressed during a heated dinner conversation.

Ms Brooks told the inquiry The Sun and Sunday Times serialised the book written by Kate and Gerry McCann and helped them in their efforts to get a review into the case by the Metropolitan Police.

But she said she did not speak to Downing Street or the Home Office about the issue, though Sun editor Dominic Mohan or current political editor Tom Newton-Dunn may have done.

She denied intervening personally, telling the inquiry: "I did not say to the Prime Minister, 'I will put Theresa May on the front page of the Sun every day unless you give me a review', I did not say that."

She also denied suggestions she told David Cameron he should not have Dominic Grieve, now Attorney General, as home secretary, after he disagreed with colleagues about the Human Rights Act.

Ms Brooks said she was at a shadow cabinet dinner where Mr Grieve said the Conservatives should not be promising to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British bill of rights.

"The dinner conversation was quite heated as he was the only one at the table saying, 'actually'..," she told the inquiry.

"I admired him standing up to his shadow colleagues like that, and as I say, in the end he's turned out to be correct."

She denied telling Mr Cameron, who she said was not at the dinner: "You can't have someone like that as Home Secretary, he won't appeal to our readers", and said she had not shared her views with him.

"In fact, Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron did the opposite to me, where they were at pains to explain that Mr Grieve's view, which has now proved to be entirely correct, was absolutely not their view and they were going to repeal the HRA and replace it with a British bill of rights, and that Mr Grieve was mistaken."

Mrs Brooks also told the inquiry she had not told Ed Balls to fire former Haringey head of children's services Sharon Shoesmith over the Baby P scandal.

"I think he was well aware we had called for her resignation, it was all over the paper," she said.

"I did not tell Ed Balls to fire Sharon Shoesmith. It was obvious in our paper that we had launched a petition because the government were refusing to do anything about the situation."

She said she spoke to Mr Balls, and also to a shadow minister, possibly Michael Gove, at the time, adding: "I would have spoken to anybody, basically, to try and get some justice for Baby P, which was the point of the campaign."