Rebekah Brooks, the newspaper, the phones and the PM
Summary and comment from The Observer April 10, 2011
News International’s chief exec, Rebekah Brooks, the most boring yet powerful woman in the media, is in the news. Again.
A recent exposé in the New Statesman by UK actor Hugh Grant (yup, you read that correctly) revealed that UK Prime Minister David Cameron and protector of Rupert Murdoch’s empire Rebekah Brooks, regularly go horse riding together.
According to Grant, it is also thanks to Brooks that Cameron (nearly) won the election last year, and now heads the coalition government.
It’s the sort of vignette that makes me roll my eyes, shrug my shoulders and get back to work.
Although it’s the kind of information that we who read the news almost expect, it’s a story that those who make the news aren’t so keen on being printed.
Especially not in the middle of a phone-hacking scandal, which has serious implications for former UK government spin doctor, Andy Coulson (and, by extension, David Cameron).
If it wasn’t clear before, Hugh Grant’s article appears to have confirmed that phone-hacking was rife throughout the News of the World.
The situation seems to have escalated beyond anyone’s control.
Brooks, who was the News of the World’s editor between 2000 and 2003, has been incredibly blunt in pushing aside allegations of any phone-hacking involvement on her part or others.
Brooks and several fellow senior executives said that they had brought in two outside law firms to investigate the allegations, and both had found nothing untoward.
She declined to appear before parliament’s culture select committee when it was examining the allegations and has been almost contemptuous of suggestions that phone-hacking was widespread.
Her version has been shattered, however, by a consistent flow of celebrities and public figures who have made allegations and sued.
On 10th April the News of the World printed an apology stating, “Here today, we publicly and unreservedly apologise to all such individuals. What happened to them should not have happened. It was and remains unacceptable.”
The apology continued, “it is now apparent that our previous inquiries failed to uncover important evidence and we acknowledge our actions then were not sufficiently robust.”
This about-turn in Brooks’ way of dealing with the allegations is not the end, nor, does it seem, is it the beginning of the end in this convoluted, incestuous drama played out in the pockets of the powerful.
One thing is quite likely however, that Cameron will postpone riding out with Brooks for the forseeable future.