Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks has told a UK media ethics enquiry that she received messages of condolence from the highest echelons of British governments - past and present - when she was sacked.
Prime Minister David Cameron's office was among several at the top of British politics that contacted disgraced former newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks when she was forced to resign as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper group last July.
Brooks testified on Friday at the Leveson Inquiry, an appraisal of media ethics in the UK prompted by the phone-hacking cases that caused the collapse of the country's best-selling paper, the News of the World. Brooks was once editor of the tabloid.
The 43-year-old told the inquiry of her close ties to the highest echelons of British politics, saying she received messages of commiseration after she left her post. She mentioned Prime Minister Cameron's residence, number 10 Downing Street and number 11, the residence of George Osborne, the Conservative finance minister.
"I received some indirect messages from No. 10, No. 11, the Home Office and the Foreign Office," Brooks said when asked whether the current British government had contacted her. She said the message from Cameron was along the lines that she should "keep her head up," but added "I don't think they were the exact words."
Brooks said long-standing Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair also offered his condolences, but said his successor, Gordon Brown, did not. News International's flagship Sun paper supported Blair throughout his tenure, but switched allegiance to Cameron when Brown was running for reelection.
"He was probably getting the bunting out," Brooks said, in reference to a prime minister who did not enjoy favorable coverage in papers run by News International - the UK arm of Rupert Murdoch's global News Corporation enterprise.
Cast out of the set, to face music
Brooks was a resident and member of the so-called "Chipping Norton Set," a group of Britain's elite based in the idyllic Oxfordshire town that is within David Cameron's home constituency.
During her testimony, Brooks said that Cameron also sent a message to her via an intermediary saying that he could not remain loyal to her publicly because opposition Labour leader Ed Milliband "had him on the run" over his cosy relationships with senior Murdoch-empire journalists and executives.
Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry, led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, in response to further revelations about News of the World phone-hacking. The practice was first unearthed in 2006, after a 2005 story on an injury to Prince William, third in line to the throne, raised suspicions in Britain. After several similar high-profile cases, news that the paper had hacked into the answer-phone messages of a 12-year-old murder victim sparked more widespread public outcry.
Murdoch shut down the News of the World, a Sunday paper, within one week of news that schoolgirl Milly Dowler was among the targets.
News International's best-selling daily paper, the Sun, launched its brand-new "The Sun on Sunday" offshoot late in February.
msh/ncy (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)