|Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch|
UPDATE: Wow, Tony Blair's London office has confirmed the below story about the former UK prime minister offering advice to James and Rupert Murdoch shortly after the expose of News of the World's hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the arrest of Andy Coulson.
Incredibly, Blair's office got this official statement out incredibly fast, less than two hours after Blair-related revelations hit news site. Here's the statement from Tony Blair's office:
"This was Mr Blair simply giving informal advice over the phone.Got a feeling Tony Blair is going to seriously regret confirming that phone conversation with Rebekah Brooks. Wonder if he'll wind up in the dock as a witness at the Hacking Trial?
"He made it absolutely clear to Ms Brooks that, though he knew nothing personally about the facts of the case, in a situation as serious as this it was essential to have a fully transparent and independent process to get to the bottom of what had happened.
"That inquiry should be led by credible people, get all the facts out there and that if anything wrong were found there should be immediate action taken and the changes to the organisation made so that they could not happen again.
"If what he was being told by her was correct, and there had been no wrongdoing, then a finding to that effect by a credible inquiry would be far better than an internal and therefore less credible investigation."
Remarkable. When Rupert Murdoch's world was falling in around him, in early July 2011, as the world began to discover the depraved depths his tabloids would go to to 'get the story', former British prime minister Tony Blair offered to act as an "unofficial adviser" to James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch and former News of the World editor and then News International (now NewsCorp) CEO Rebekah Brooks.
The phone call offering help to Rebekah Brooks came only days before her arrest, and when a police investigation was already underway.
This was revealed in an email recovered from a News International hard drive from Rebekah Brooks to Rupert's son, James Murdoch, made public during the Hacking Trial now underway in London:
In the email, Rebekah Brooks alleges Tony Blair suggested the following during an hour long phone call:
1. Form 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 me and others and publish a Hutton style reportMore on the email here
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. It will pass. Tough up.
For someone who was writing on the Murdoch Hacking Scandal way back when Murdoch's people were still blaming "one rogue reporter", and only a few media outlets were getting into the story, I've been incredibly slack covering the Hacking Trial here.
Life got in the way. Will try and keep up.
But here's a great summary of the Hacking Trial so far from journalist Peter Jukes supplies a "half time" report here, covering the prosecution's case against Brooks, Andy Coulson and other former employees of Rupert Murdoch:
(Rebekah Brooks) faces the most number of charges — four: one for conspiracy to phone hack, one for conspiracy to bribe public officials and two charges of conspiracy to hide evidence from police.
When it came to evidence that Brooks, while editor of the Sun, approved nearly £100,000 of payments to a Ministry of Defence employee, Bettina Jordan-Barber, Laidlaw meticulously went through the published stories, correlated them with official MOD press releases and noted when the stories often concerned bullying, or lack of kit for British soldiers.
So central was the now defunct News of the World to British public life that every day at the hacking trial can bring some new revelation about Fleet Street practices, celebrity affairs, the private lives of the royal family or senior politicians, or indeed the defendant’s friends and contacts. Lawyers, senior police officers, footballers, pop stars and prime ministers float by in evidence. Some lie buried in a Mulcaire notebook, some passing email or text message, can have an impact on lives, careers, reputations. Maybe this is a tribute to Rupert Murdoch’s amazing newspaper and business acumen in making one paper so central to a country’s discourse — or a warning about the dangers of newspaper monopolies.
The Hacking Trial has resumed in London today, and now it's the defence team's turn. Rebekah Brooks will be answering questions, under oath, this week. Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch are still rumoured to eventually appear in the dock themselves before the trial winds up in May this year.Some more background to the Hacking Trial here:
UPDATE: The revelations in the Rebekah Brooks email about Tony Blair's offer of PR help, just days after the Milly Dowler scandal erupted is big news, huge news:Who is on trial?The three highest-profile defendants are: Brooks, 45, a former editor of the News of the World and former chief executive of Murdoch's British newspapers; Coulson, 45, another former News of the World editor who was Cameron's communications chief until 2011; and Brooks' 50-year-old husband Charles, a racehorse trainer.Coulson and Rebekah Brooks have become the faces of the scandal, though neither has been convicted of wrongdoing.He was the elusive figure - rarely photographed - behind Cameron's canny media strategy. She was the flame-haired, high-flying editor who exchanged text messages with her friend and neighbour Cameron while overseeing Murdoch's politically powerful British newspapers.They face trial alongside former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner; ex-news editor Ian Edmondson; former royal editor Clive Goodman; Rebekah Brooks' former assistant Cheryl Carter; and Mark Hanna, former security chief at Murdoch's News International unit.How did the allegations arise?The charges stem from the scandal that erupted in 2011, when it was revealed that journalists at the News of the World eavesdropped on the cellphone voicemail messages of celebrities, politicians, crime victims and others in the public eye.The furore led Murdoch to close the News of The World and triggered police investigations into phone hacking, computer hacking and the bribery of officials, probes that have expanded to take in possible wrongdoing at other British newspapers.
Previous Coverage Of The Murdoch Hacking And Bribery Scandals On Your New Reality:
July 10, 2009: Rupert Murdoch Instructs Fox Journo On Questions He Will And Won't Answer
July 10, 2009: Murdoch Could Pay Out Billions For Illegal Phone Hacking Of Celebrities, Politicians, Sports Stars
July 13, 2011: Rupert Murdoch's Massive Spying Operation Finally Exposed
July 18, 2011: Fox News Claims Murdoch Media Are Real Victims Of Hacking Scnadal
July 21, 2011: The Many Sticky Threads Of Rupert Murdoch's Massive Hacking And Bribery Network
July 27, 2011: Ex-Murdoch Editor Claims Milly Dowler's Phone Was Hacked Only To Help Police