Rebekah Brooks got advice on handling the phone hacking scandal from former Prime Minister Tony Blair who told her to use sleeping pills, and outlined a media strategy involving investigating herself.
In an email shown to the jury at the Old Bailey trial in which former News of the World (NOTW) editor Rebekah Brooks and six others are acused over phone-hacking and other offences, Ms Brooks writes that she had spent “an hour on the phone to Tony Blair.”
The email sent to James Murdoch on 11 July 2011, stated that Ms Brooks had spent “an hour on the phone to Tony Blair.”
Giving details of the conversation, Ms Brooks’ said that Mr Blair had said that he was “available for you [James Murdoch], KRM [Rupert Murdoch] and me as an unofficial adviser”. But she adds that such an arrangement “needs to be between us”.
Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short term solutions as they only give you long term headaches. Brooks’ email
According to the email, which was written the day after the closure of the NOTW and less than a week before Ms Brooks’ arrest on 17 July 2011, Mr Blair also suggested the formation of:
“An independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate and publish a Hutton style report.” [Lord Hutton’s judicial inquiry published a report into the death of the scientist Dr David Kelly in 2003].
“Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.”
The email continues with some more personal advice:
“Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short term solutions as they only give you long term headaches.
“It will pass. Tough up.”
Read more from Gary Gibbon: Blair's email and reputation
She ends the email with the words: “He is sending more notes later.”
During the Leveson inquiry into press ethics in 2012, Mr Blair was asked about his relationship with Ms Brooks. He conceded that their friendship had become closer once he had left office “when it wasn’t a relationship, as it were, about the power relationship.”
Asked whether he had offered her any messages of support during July 2011, Mr Blair told the inquiry:
“I’m someone who doesn’t believe in being a fairweather friend, and certainly I said I was very sorry for what had happened to her and, you know, I remain – obviously whatever has happened – I don’t know anything about the facts of the particular case, but I have been or seen people go through these situations and I know what it’s like.”