That’s what we all want to find out from the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics tomorrow (Friday) when former News of the World and Sun editor, and latterly CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper operation News International, Rebekah Brooks takes the stand.
How do we know Dave sent all these text messages, and that Rebekah preserved them? A judicious leak from the Brooks camp perhaps? Since the News of the World phone hacking scandal broke Brooks has been arrested twice, once for supposed hacking, the second time for allegedly paying policemen with the NoW’s money.
So Brooks is up against it, even her husband, racing figure Charlie Brooks (a contemporary and chum of David Cameron at Eton), has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice. This probably refers to Charlie’s cack-handed attempt to dispose of a computer in a Chelsea car park.
There’s no doubt that Cameron and flame-haired Brooks were mates. They met regularly socially as part of the now-notorious Chipping Norton set, flash media types living near Cameron’s constituency home in Oxfordshire. Other members included Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, Liz Murdoch (Rupert’s daughter) and her PR maven husband Matthew Freud.
So did Cameron and Brooks’ friendship impinge on Cameron’s ability to do his job (running the country) impartially, especially considering that just a year ago News Corporation was planning to buy outright control of hugely profitable British pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB, a move opposed by both the other two main political parties?
And how chummy should a PM be with a major media figure, especially one like Brooks who, until the boys in blue called, had the power to swing about half the UK newspaper market behind one party or another? Not, as we shall no doubt learn, just out of altruism.
Today Cameron’s former director of communications Andy Coulson (also arrested as part of the phone hacking scandal) was given a remarkably easy ride at the Leveson Inquiry. Inquiry inquisitor Robert Jay QC obviously needed to tread carefully so as not to prejudice Coulson’s trial, if it ever happens (I suspect it won’t). Even so this was kid gloves stuff.
Will Brooks also get an armchair ride on Friday? And will details of these eagerly-awaited texts be disclosed to public view?
I’ll be (pleasantly) surprised if they do. The dreaded ‘redactions’ (cutting stuff out of evidence presented to court that the lawyers don’t want you to hear) may well make an unwelcome appearance as the PM has been forewarned and forearmed.
But Brooks could still spill the beans. Depends how bruised she’s feeling about the actions of her former pals. Over to you Rebekah..