Blair advised Brooks on phone-hacking scandal, court told

Former British prime minister was ‘available to Rupert Murdoch’ as an ‘unofficial adviser’

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London on Wednesday where she is on trial on charges related to phone-hacking. The court heard that Tony Blair advised Ms Brooks on how to deal with the phone-hacking scandal. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse in London on Wednesday where she is on trial on charges related to phone-hacking. The court heard that Tony Blair advised Ms Brooks on how to deal with the phone-hacking scandal. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

 

Former British prime minister Tony Blair offered to act as an unofficial adviser to Rupert Murdoch during his media empire’s phone-hacking scandal, suggesting the firm follow steps he took to address Iraq War anger, a London court heard on Wednesday.

Rebekah Brooks, the ex-boss of Murdoch’s British newspapers, wrote an email to Murdoch’s son James detailing advice Blair had given her during an hour-long phone call in July 2011 at the height of a furore over phone-hacking allegations at the media moguls’ News of the World tabloid.

“He (Blair) is available to you, KRM [Rupert Murdoch] and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us,” said the email from Brooks to James Murdoch, who at the time ran News Corp operations in Britain.

He also suggested they form an independent unit with outside lawyers to investigate Ms Brooks and others before producing a “Hutton style” report, a reference to an inquiry headed by a judge which cleared Blair’s government of misleading the public over the reasons it gave for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The email demonstrates just how close Ms Brooks and Rupert Murdoch were to Britain’s establishment, a relationship which critics said allowed him to use his powerful stable of British newspapers to influence politicians for the benefit of his business interests.

In the email, Ms Brooks said Mr Blair had suggested the company appoint an internal unit which would include “a great and good type” and “proper fact checkers”.

“Get them to investigate me and others and publish a hutton style report,” she wrote in the email. “Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept shortcomings and new solutions and process.

“It will pass. Tough up.”

The contents of the email were read to the jury at London’s Old Bailey court where Ms Brooks and six others are on trial over phone-hacking and other offences which she denies. Ms Brooks quit the job a few days after the email.

Reuters