The prime minister’s evidence to the Leveson inquiry reveals a text from former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks saying “professionally, we’re definitely in this together”.
After a week of high profile political appearances at the inquiry, the prime minister took the stand to give his thoughts on media practices and insights into how he and his party manage their relationships with journalists and editors.
Mr Cameron’s text conversations with former Sun Editor Rebekah Brooks again raised eyebrows at the inquiry.
Inquiry Counsel Robert Jay turned to a text message sent by Ms Brooks to Mr Cameron on 7 October 2009:
“..But seriously I do understand the issue with the Times let’s discuss over country supper soon… But as always, Sam was wonderful… I am so rooting for you tomorrow, not just as a personal friend but because professionally we’re definitely in this together. Speech of your life? Yes, he Cam!”
The message came after the Conservative party conference and George Osborne’s speech had contained the famous line, “we are all in this together”. Mr Cameron said the comment about the Times referred to his being unable to attend the newspaper’s party, which he explained was part of a round of engagements politicians carry out at party conferences.
Political commentators have pointed out that the exchange shows cross-pollination between the media and higher levels of the government. Blogger Paul Waugh tweeted the following:
Key fact: Brooks text ‘Yes he Cam’ was followed up by the Sun’s headline after his conf speech. What was it? ‘Yes he Cam’
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 14, 2012
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Elsewhere during his morning’s evidence, Mr Cameron spoke about meetings he had with other journalists and editors where “robust” exchanges on policy were had. He admitted that his party was guilty of what Counsel for the Inquiry Robert Jay called the “allied vices” of anonymous briefings, manipulation of the media by politicians and favouritism.
Asked if he had seen evidence of these in his own party, Mr Cameron replied, “Yes and it’s deeply regrettable. I think as long as there’s been a press and politicians, these things have happened.
“It often makes running a government, running a political party more difficult, it’s deeply destructive.”
Political Editor Gary Gibbon blogs: The high point for drama so far was Robert Jay asking David Cameron this morning if, before the election, he’d seen Rebekah Brooks every weekend he was at his country home. He had to think long and hard before saying it probably wasn’t every weekend.
Most? Again, a lot of uncomfortable shuffling. Probably not.
Someone from Downing Street watching all this must’ve fired up Sam Cam to check the diary pronto and Mr Cameron’s come straight back into the afternoon session attempting to kill off the excitement around that squirming moment.
The PM said Samantha’s recollection was that they weren’t in the country that much in those months – tot it all up and they probably wouldn’t have met Rebekah in the country more than every six weeks. From the earlier exchange you got the distinct impression that the PM and Rebekah were in and out of each other’s country kitchens.
On his relationship with Rebekah Brooks, Mr Cameron said that his party had its work cut out to win the Sun’s support because of her friendship with Gordon Brown’s family.
He did admit however that they were friends by 2008 – a friendship that was cemented by her marriage to Charlie Brooks, who Mr Cameron had known for some time (they were contemporaries at Eton) and who was a neighbour. Mr Cameron admitted the two families see each other socially because they are neighbours in Oxfordshire.
Later, Mr Cameron hinted at reform for press regulation, although he refrained from setting out exactly what he thought that might be. He did say however, that self-regulation, in the form of the Press Complaints Commission was “not working”.