11 May 2012

‘Lots of love – DC’ texts to Rebekah

Rebekah Brooks seems to have taken a leaf out of Andy Coulson’s notebook. Her testimony at Leveson so far has been occasionally coy, very controlled, peppered with moments of cheeky humour and not revelatory. It would appear that News International still hold the metaphorical keys to most of her email and text in-tray and she’s been locked out of an account that could contain any number of treasures.

But she has recalled David Cameron regularly signing off his text messages to her “LOL” which he thought meant “lots of love” until she pointed his mistake out to him [it is text speak for “laugh out loud”]. Her recall of a phone conversation with David Cameron in late 2010 when he’s worried about widespread phone hacking at the News of the World was particularly unhelpful – the conversation was prompted by lots of civil claims being brought against News International. At one point she calls it a “general conversation” and a short while later it is “a more detailed conversation” … but of the detail we got nothing. Rebekah Brooks did say that it wasn’t David Cameron checking whether Andy Coulson was involved in any way. “Sure about that?” she was asked. “Yes.”

Mrs Brooks did tell us that she received supportive messages from David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May and William Hague after her resignation from News International in July 2011. They all covered their tracks or protected their backs by sending the messages “indirectly” through others.

David Cameron’s message was, as reported by Frances Elliott and James Hanning’s updated biography of David Cameron, along the lines of “keep your head up” and “sorry I couldn’t be more supportive but Ed Miliband was on my case.”

This contact came only days after David Cameron had claimed in public that the cosy relationship between politicians and the media had to stop and “the relationship needs to be different in the future.” Some might feel this suggests that the relationship hadn’t changed much at all and that it was simply the words in public that had changed.

Rebekah Brooks was in “butter wouldn’t melt” mode talking about how she turned The Sun against Labour just as Gordon Brown was finishing his speech at the Labour Party Conference in 2009 not to maximise political damage but because to have done it earlier in the Conference “would’ve been terribly unfair.” She also denies that The Sun derives a lot of its power over politicians from its capacity to make powerful personal attacks on them. She said it hasn’t really done that since attacks on Neil Kinnock. I wonder if Ed Miliband would agree.

Mrs Brooks has produced a very bland written statement which you can read online here.

UPDATE: There is now a second witness statement from Rebekah Brooks on the Inquiry website and it suggests we may see an email from last summer that may be of interest.

UPDATE 2: We now have the email and though some will say it is pretty rum it is not a killer strike. It’s yet another Fred Michel special claiming contact with JH (Jeremy Hunt) – “JH is now starting to look into phone hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and No 10’s positioning.” Lethal if you believe that JH is JH himself. But JH will, no doubt, say that this was his sacked former special adviser, Adam Smith, up to his usual rogue activities. 

You can follow Gary’s blog posts on Twitter @GaryGibbonBlog

Tweets by @garygibbonc4