Hacking Trial: Tony Blair Advised Rebekah Brooks on Scandal
LONDON – The prosecution in the trial of former News International CEO and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks finished with a bang Wednesday as Brooks' team steels itself to begin its defense.
Revelations that Tony Blair, the British prime minister when the phone-hacking scandal engulfed the Rupert Murdoch-owned titles, advised Brooks to launch an inquiry into the illegal interceptions made headlines across the British print media's web outlets and hit bulletins on ITV, BBC and Sky News, in which Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake.
According to reports in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent and the BBC news website, an email from Brooks sent July 11, 2011 -- the day after News of the World's final issue and six days before Brooks was arrested -- to her then-boss James Murdoch claims Blair told her during an hourlong phone conversation that he was "available" to her and the Murdochs as an "unofficial adviser" on a "between us" basis.
In the email, Brooks says Blair advised her to set up an "independent" inquiry, suggesting it could have "outside counsel, Ken Macdonald [the former director of public prosecutions], a great and good type." Blair also advised Brooks to "tough up" and not to make any "rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches." He also told her to "keep strong" and advised her to take "sleeping pills."
Prosecutor Andrew Edis read out the entire email exchange between Brooks and James Murdoch to the jury on Wednesday as part of the formal conclusion of the prosecution's case, according to The Guardian. After finishing the email he turned to the jury and said, "Well, that's that," before moving on to the next piece of evidence.
It also emerged on Wednesday that Brooks suggested publishing a report into the phone-hacking scandal that blamed two of her fellow executives, Les Hinton and Colin Myler.
According to The Telegraph, in another email from Brooks to James Murdoch entitled "Plan B," Brooks suggested a strategy that would "vindicate" her position but "slam Les, Colin etc."
Hinton was the former chief executive of News International who left the company at the end of 2007 to run Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal in New York. Myler was the editor of News of the World when the paper closed in 2011 in response to the phone-hacking scandal.
The prosecution has concluded its case, and the defense is expected to open Thursday.