|We’re in this together, David Cameron told|
|Friday, 15 June 2012 12:00|
Cameron dismissed claims that his party made secret deals with Murdoch, but he was put on the spot over the text from Brooks, a close friend of his who appeared in court just a day earlier charged with obstructing justice.
“I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a personal friend but because professionally we’re definitely in this together,” said the text, which was read out by counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay.
The text was sent a day before Cameron, who was then opposition leader, was due to address the annual conference of his Conservative party in October 2009. Brooks was chief executive of News International at the time. Speech of your life? Yes he Cam!,” the text continued, punning on his surname and on US President Barack Obama’s 2008 election slogan.
The text also suggested that Cameron — who knew Brooks’ husband Charlie from their schooldays at the elite Eton College — have a “country supper” to discuss an “issue” with the Murdoch-owned Times newspaper.
Murdoch’s top-selling British tabloid The Sun had come out in support of Cameron just over a week earlier, dropping then-prime minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party.
Cameron admitted however that relationships between the press and politicians had been “too close”. He added that there should be “greater transparency, better regulation” in the future.
The inquiry heard in May that Cameron signed texts to Brooks “LOL”, thinking it stood for “lots of love”.
Brooks (44), has been charged with hiding material during the last days of the News of the World, which shut down in the wake of a public outcry when it emerged the tabloid had hacked into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl. She was granted bail by a London court on Wednesday and will appear before a judge on June 22 along with Charlie Brooks and four other people. Rebekah Brooks has also been arrested over allegations of phone-hacking and bribery.
Cameron also defended his decision to hire his former media chief Andy Coulson, another ex-editor of the News of the World, who has been charged with perjury in a case relating to a story in the paper and arrested over hacking and bribery allegations.
“In the end it was my decision,” he said.
Cameron faced questions about his government’s handling of a now-abandoned attempt by Murdoch’s US-based News Corporation to buy a controlling stake in pay-TV giant BSkyB.
“The idea of overt deals is nonsense,” Cameron said. “I also don’t believe in this theory that there was also a nod and a wink and a covert agreement,” he added.
Cameron’s appearance comes amid new reverberations from the scandal, with a rift opening in the coalition government over a parliamentary vote on Wednesday over whether to investigate the minister responsible for deciding on the bid.
Murdoch, still owns The Sun, Britain's best-selling tabloid, The Times and Sunday Times in Britain.
Cameron set up the Leveson inquiry in July last year after the News of the World was shut down. The inquiry is due to produce a report, likely to include recommendations on the future of press regulation, in October. Police have arrested around 50 people in combined investigations into phone-hacking and bribery of public officials which opened in January 2011.
Scotland Yard said it had arrested three more people on Thursday in a bribery probe linked to the hacking investigation, including a former prison officer. — AFP.