Saturday, May 12, 2012

You Ain't Got No One Else To Blame

The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt sought 'private advice' from News Corporation over phone-hacking, an e-mail given to the Leveson Inquiry has claimed. The embattled lack of culture secretary came under renewed pressure when the former News International chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks disclosed an e-mail appearing to show that the vile and odious rascal Hunt had sought the company's advice over how Downing Street should respond to the mounting phone-hacking scandal. The e-mail, which also suggests that the vile and odious rascal Hunt sought to avoid a public inquiry into phone-hacking, emerged on another day of extraordinary disclosures about the intimacy between Rupert Murdoch's company and government ministers. The e-mail from News Corporation lobbyist Frédéric Michel written in June 2011 told well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was poised to make an 'extremely helpful' statement about the company's proposed acquisition of BSkyB, saying the takeover 'would be approved' regardless of phone-hacking allegations. It also claims that the vile and odious rascal Hunt wanted 'guidance' on his and Number 10's 'positioning' with regard to the bid. The vile and odious rascal Hunt is currently facing serious questions about contact between his 'rouge' political adviser and Michel. The last line of Michel's e-mail read: 'JH is now starting to looking to phone hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and No 10's positioning.' BBC political editor Nick Robinson said that it is already known that Michel often referred to 'JH' meaning the vile and odious rascal Hunt, even when he had only spoken to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's single 'rogue' special adviser Adam Smith. Smith has since resigned, claiming that he had acted without the vile and odious rascal Hunt's authority, after it emerged he and Michel had been in regular e-mail contact over News Corp's bid to take control of BSkyB. The vile and odious rascal Hunt was the cabinet minister tasked with deciding if such a takeover could go ahead. Labour's deputy leader Mad Hattie Harman said this was 'absolutely not acceptable' and that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'not fit' to remain in his position. Harman added: 'How much more evidence does David Cameron need that this man is not fit to hold this high office? Clearly there was complete collusion between the secretary of state and his office and News Corp on a bid where he was supposed to be impartial, which is why he should not be in his job. Either he didn't know what was going on on an eight billion pound bid, in which case he shouldn't be in his job and he should be sacked, or he did know and he is covering up and blaming everybody else, in which case he should be sacked.' I can see a bit of a theme emerging here, dear blog reader. Can you? Labour MP Chris Bryant said the vile and odious rascal Hunt and Prime Minister David Cameron did not have any 'alibis' left after Lord Justice Leveson 'made it clear that he will not rule on the ministerial code.' Denis MacShane, the MP for Rotherham, said the vile and odious rascal Hunt's time as a minister was coming to an end. He said: 'It's over for Jeremy Hunt. What we found out is what everyone half knew in the House of Commons, that he was openly colluding with the Murdoch empire on the question of BSkyB. Now his position is untenable and when Parliament gets going next week, I think that's going to be the case.' The Leveson Inquiry has spent Friday questioning well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who quit as chief executive of News International in July 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal led to the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World newspaper's closure. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was asked about the amount of contact she had with senior UK politicians, including whether Prime Minister David Cameron had sent her a 'keep your head up' message when she resigned. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that it had been 'something along those lines.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks - who was the Scum of the World editor when voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone were hacked - claimed that she received 'indirect' rather than direct text messages from a number of politicians at that time. These included messages from 'Number 10, Number 11, the Home Office and the Foreign Office' and from the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The phone-hacking scandal at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World Sunday tabloid led to its closure and the establishment of the Leveson Inquiry, an MPs' inquiry and the launch of three police investigations. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks has denied any knowledge of phone-hacking on her watch. She was arrested on 17 July 2011 over phone-hacking and corruption allegations. She was released on bail and re-arrested on 13 March 2012, on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and bailed again to appear at a London police station in May 2012.
So, David Cameron sent well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks a 'keep your head up' message when she quit News International. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the Leveson Inquiry she got 'indirect messages' from a number of Tories but that ex-Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was 'probably getting the bunting out.' She quit as chief executive of the company in July 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal led to the Scum of the World's closure in shame and ignominy. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denied reports that she and Cameron texted each other up to twelve times a day. Asked by counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay, if Cameron had sent her a 'keep your head up' message when she resigned she said that it had been 'something along those lines.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike said that she received 'indirect' rather than direct text messages from a number of politicians at that time. She claimed that the suggestion she and Cameron texted twelve times a day were 'thankfully' untrue. 'It is preposterous,' said well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who told the inquiry she did not have access to many of her old work e-mails or text messages. 'I would text Mr Cameron, and vice-versa on occasion, like a lot of people.' She added that she and Cameron texted, on average, about once a week. She claimed that, in the run-up to the 2010 general election, she had texted Cameron about his performance after a TV debate with Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg, adding: 'Like everyone, I felt the first one wasn't very good.' Pushed by Jay, she said Cameron would generally sign texts with DC. 'Occasionally he would sign them off LOL, "lots of love", until I told him it meant "laugh out loud,"' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks added. On her relationship with News Corporation executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, she said 'in the main, on the big issues we had similar views' but they disagreed over some issues including the environment, immigration and font size. Of course, as Rupert's presumably told him, it's not font size that's important, it's boldness that counts. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said claimed that she preferred more celebrities in the paper while Murdoch wanted more serious issues. 'We only have to look at [TV] viewing figures to see it's the reality programmes that do so well, I took from those figures that our readers were quite interested in it.' She said Murdoch thought there was 'too much celebrity culture' in the paper 'although he liked X Factor.' If this blogger was Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, I really wouldn't know how to take such an endorsement. Murdoch had thrown well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks a 'surprise' fortieth birthday party, she said, attended by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, but she said that she 'could not remember' if then then-opposition leader David Cameron had been there. She said she spoke to Murdoch 'very frequently' but denied reports they went swimming together when he was in London. She also denied reports that, after her arrest in 2005 over an alleged assault on then-husband, TV hard man Ross Kemp, Murdoch sent a dress to the police station. She was later released without charge and the police took no further action. The inquiry heard that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks became close friends with Blair and his wife, Cherie, as well as his spin-doctor Alastair Campbell and his partner. Crystal Tipps and Alastair [sic]. Hmmm. Anyway, she claimed that she did not exchange texts or e-mails with Blair because 'he did not have a mobile phone or in fact, I think, use a computer when he was prime minister.' And, she said, she was never friends with Blair's successor in Downing Street, Gordon Brown, but was acquainted with, and a friend of, his 'extraordinary' wife, Sarah. Asked whose side she was on in the long-running feud between Brown and Blair, she said she was 'on the side of my readers.' But she added that during the so-called 2006 'curry house coup' - where a group of Labour MPs agreed to call for Blair's resignation - 'we did take Mr Blair's side because the country was on ice because of the hostilities.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that, according to her former personal assistant's 'very incomplete' diary, she met or dined with Blair at least thirty times between 1998 and 2007. And, after Brown took over as prime minister in 2007, she met or dined with him 'at least five times', including once at his home. She recorded one lunch and four dinners with Cameron in 2010, including the infamous Christmas dinner party at her Oxfordshire home on 23 December at which James Murdoch may or may not have talked to David Cameron about News Crops BSkyB bid (depending on whom you believe) and Jeremy Clarkson spent 'all night' arguing with Murdoch about the environment. Which, oddly, is wholly believable. Among the other key points of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks evidence were that Cameron phoned well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks in October 2010 to ask about the phone-hacking allegations and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks knew about News Corp's BSkyB bid two months before it was publicly announced. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that Gordon Brown was 'very aggressive' after the Sun criticised his letter to bereaved mother of army soldier and the Sun had planned to switch support to Tories in June 2009 some months before the decision was announced. Also, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she disagreed with News Corporation boss, Rupert Murdoch, on some political and editorial issues and that she spoke to Murdoch 'very frequently' when she was editor of the Sun. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she was 'not embarrassed' to be described as Murdoch's 'top priority' when he was in London dealing with the phone-hacking crisis in July 2011. She also said that Blair and his aides were 'a constant presence in my life for years' and claimed that Cameron 'didn't have input' to the timing of the Sun switching its support from Labour to the Tories in September 2009. Robert Jay asked if well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks if she had forced Sun journalists to write stories critical or untrue about Tom Watson MP. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denied that she had, noting that she 'might' have said 'What are we going to do about Mr Watson?' in a conversation with Nick Robinson, the political editor of the BBC in 2009. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also denied using the Sun to criticise politicians whom she personally did not like. Robert Jay raised critical comments made by Labour MP Chris Bryant in 2004. Bryant claimed that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks subsequently told him he should be 'out on Clapham Common' after the openly gay MP made comments critical of Rupert Murdoch. Brooks claimed that she 'does not recall' making those comments. (In 2010 on the BBC's Panorama, Bryant claimed: 'At a Labour Party Conference, Andrew Pierce who was at the time writing for The Times, took me into one party and there as I came in was Rebekah Brooks. She said to me "Oh, Mr Bryant, it's after dark. Shouldn't you be on Clapham Common?" At which point her then husband, Ross Kemp, said "shut up you homophobic cow!"' And, let's face it, it really does take something spectacularly wicked to make one feel all warm and fuzzy about TV hard-man Ross Kemp. The phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World, of course, led to its closure in disgrace and the establishment of the Leveson Inquiry. Inquiry lawyers have not been allowed to ask well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks any questions which could prejudice the police investigation into phone-hacking or any potential criminal trials. Meanwhile, the Leveson Inquiry witness list for next week has been published and includes appearances from Tony Blair's former spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, on Monday. Sky News political editor Adam Boulton and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are also among those who will appear.

Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks began her evidence by apologising that she had not been able to get 'the complete picture' about her various meetings, but had given 'a flavour' based on the documents she was able to retrieve. Of all the things she could have apologised for, that was the one she chose. Class act. Jay mentioned a diary kept by Brooks's former Personal Assistant. 'Definitely not an Alastair Campbell-style diary,' said Brooks. Is it time for another Crystal Tipps and Alistair reference yet? It is. Good. Brooks's BlackBerry was held by Scotland Yard for about three weeks in July 2011, she claimed. Her BlackBerry messages were 'imaged' by her legal team, and contained about six weeks of e-mails and about a month of texts. 'We had to image them [and] had some problems with that,' she added. These contained e-mails and texts from the beginning of June 2011 to 17 July 2011, she confirmed. One e-mail was from David Cameron. 'That was compressed in June, but there's no content in it,' she said. Like much else that the prime minister has to say for himself, it could be noted. The inquiry heard that Brooks has had no access to her work e-mail account, apart from those e-mails already on her smartphone, since her resignation from News International last July. After her resignation, Brooks said she received a number of 'indirect' commiserations from politicians, including No 10, No 11, the Home Office and the Foreign Office. 'Very few Labour politicians sent commiserations,' she said although Tony Blair did. Gordon Brown did not - 'he was probably getting the bunting out,' she claimed. There were indirect commiserations from David Cameron and George Osborne. Brooks said that Cameron also passed her a message indirectly suggesting that Ed Milimolimandi had him 'on the run.' Brooks was asked about other messages from David Cameron. She confirms that she had received a message from Cameron apologising for his lack of support. 'Very indirectly,' she added. Jay asks if Cameron and George Osborne sent her these messages. 'And also people who worked in those offices,' said Brooks. Did Cameron indirectly say she should keep her head up? 'Along those lines, I don't think they were the exact words. It wasn't a direct text message.' How do these messages come into the public domain asked Jay? 'Journalists doing their job,' replied Brooks. Jay turned to Rupert Murdoch. Brooks claimed that billionaire tyrant Murdoch is 'more interested' in the Sun over political issues. 'Less so,' when she personally was editor of the Scum of the World, she added. 'We disagreed about quite a few things. More in the margins of it than the principle; the environment, the DNA database, the amount of celebrity in the paper rather than serious issues. But in the main, on the big issues, we had similarities.' She claimed that Murdoch wanted more 'serious issues' in the Sun whereas Brooks wanted 'more celebrity content, although he liked The X Factor.' Brooks was asked about being appointed editor of the Scum of the World in 2000. She believed that the appointment was down to Les Hinton's 'strong recommendation' but she did not speak to Rupert Murdoch himself until after she took the job. Jay asked if the Sun's editorial line always reflected Murdoch's thinking. Brooks claimed that 'the readers' views were always reflected' in the Sun's stance on politics. She added that she does not believe Murdoch was speaking 'literally' when he told the inquiry earlier that politicians should 'read the leaders in the Sun' if they wanted to know what he thought on any particular issue. Jay suggested that Murdoch was talking about the big issues. 'I accept that,' said Brooks. She added that her editorial line at the Sun usually reflected readers' views. Brooks suggested the Sun reflects 'national conversation' - what people are talking about in the pub and at work. 'I don't view editors as unelected forces,' she said. She argued that the Sun tries to reflect readers' voices and injustices. 'Every day the readers can unelect us as newspapers.' Jay asked why Brooks believed the Sun reflects the mood of the nation. Brooks's argument was: 'If you accept the Sun has for many years been the biggest selling paper in the country. The Saturday Sun overtook the News of the World, five years ago maybe longer, in circulation terms, you have this huge readership - eight million - the paper next to that is the Daily Mail with six million. Such a large percentage of the population would come in contact with the Sun at one time or another.' Jay described newspaper proprietors as 'unelected forces.' Brooks contested that. He asked what she views them as. 'Journalists,' she replied. Your power is your readership. it's not an individual power. It's a readership power, and I think that's really important. At the Sun, the readers are the most powerful. It's their voice we try and reflect every day, the readers can unelect us.' Brooks agreed that editors can 'present issues to the readership', but does not agree with the suggestion that they enjoy a unique power. Murdoch's contact with the Scum of the World was 'much more limited' than with the Sun or other newspapers, Brooks claimed. She said Murdoch was 'instrumental' in her appointment as editor of the Sun in 2003. Jay asked how often Brooks spoke to Murdoch as editor of the Sun. 'Very frequently. It wasn't a regular pattern. Sometimes every day. Mainly when he wasn't in the country.' Brooks denied the rumour that she used to swim with Murdoch when he was in London. She also denied a rumour that Murdoch sent a dress to the police station after she was arrested from an alleged assault on her former husband, TCV hard man Ross Kemp. (No charges were ultimately brought.) Where do these rumours come from, asked Brooks? 'Various sources,' said Jay, to laughter. 'You need better sources,' Brooks suggested. She confirmed that Murdoch had hosted a party for her fortieth birthday at which politicians including Tony Blair were present although she did not remember if David Cameron had been. Jay turned to Brooks's appointment as News International chief executive in 2009. Brooks claimed that she discussed this with James and Rupert Murdoch. She said that the decision to appoint her was 'both of their ideas. I had been editing the Sun for seven years by then. I was very interested in looking at the future economic models of journalism, how you continue financially to keep high quality journalism going.' Jay asked if Dominic Mohan was her choice as her successor at the Sun. She said that he was: 'He had been my deputy for several years,' she replied. In terms of editorial outlook, Brooks said that she, Murdoch and Mohan do not all 'think exactly the same way,' but are 'different shades of grey.' She said that she liked the paper Mohan had produced in her absence: 'I thought he was doing a very good job.' Brooks was asked whether she was embarrassed when Rupert Murdoch said in July last year that she was his top priority, when asked by reporters in the street. 'I took that to mean this issue, so I wasn't embarrassed at the time,' she said. Jay turned to Brooks's relationship with Tony Blair. She said that Blair did not have a mobile phone or a computer when he was prime minister. On her meetings with Blair, Brooks said: 'I think it became more frequent when I became editor of the Sun but that would probably go for most politicians. As you heard from Mr Murdoch, Mr Blair flew out to News Corp conference in around 1995 I probably met him shortly after that and they were in power for ten years. It's over a very long period of time.' Did her meetings with politicians increase after she became editor of the Sun? Brooks confirmed that they did and offered the opinion that New Labour had 'a very big story to tell' and Alastair Campbell 'put a huge store on certain newspapers.' She added that Blair and his aides 'were a constant presence in my life for many years.' Jay asked what steps Brooks took to counter any spin by the government. She replied: 'Gordon Brown and Charlie Whelan were masters of spin, more than Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair.' She claimed: 'If a politician or a PM ever put a friendship with a media executive or company in front of his or her abilities to do their professional duties properly, that is their failing. If a journalist ever compromised their readership or role through a friendship [with a politician], that is their failing.' She claimed that she did not believe any journalist would report verbatim a line or story given to them by a politician or a spin doctor. Brooks was asked about her relationship with Blair and Gordon Brown. She said that hostilities between Brown and Blair became 'increasingly worse' in the latter years of Blair's premiership. But whose side was she, personally, on? 'Neither,' she claimed. 'On the side of the readers. It was our job to judge and analyse.' Was she friendly with Gordon Brown? 'I was friends with Sarah Brown, an amazing lady. So probably not.' She conceded to taking Blair's side over the infamous 'curry house coup' in which the then prime minister and Brown struck a deal over who would be his successor. 'In the end, particularly, we were on the side of Mr Blair,' she said. It wasn't a playground spat, we were a newspaper looking after the real serious concerns of our readers. It wasn't that I would stand in one corner of the playground and Alan Rusbridger [the Gruniad Morning Star editor] would stand in the other. It wouldn't work like that.' Jay asked whether scoops were 'fed' to the Sun. Brooks claimed she and the Sun's political journalist Trevor Kavanagh had 'some good sources', but said that she would not reveal them. Jay asked whether Brooks's dinners with Blair between 2003 and 2007 were always one-to-one or if someone else was present. 'From memory I had about three dinners with Mr Blair on my own,' she said. How often was Blair at home of Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch when he was prime minister? 'Very few.' A handful? 'Maximum, yes.' Was the support of her paper at election time the subject of prior discussion with Blair or his advisors? Brooks said: 'Not in 2001 that I can remember. In 2005 it was a very difficult time for the Labour party. I'm pretty sure it was Michael Howard who was leader of the opposition. The Sun under my editorship were very even handed during that election process.' So, was the fact of the Sun's support discussed with Blair or his advisers? Brooks: 'Not that I can remember. It wouldn't be that way. I think in 2005 the Sun, we left it right to the day. We erected in a Vatican-style chimney on the roof of Wapping, whatever coloured smoke – sorry, it was funny at the time, clearly lost in translation – whatever smoke came up. We had red smoke and blue smoke. I'm not sure we could find any yellow smoke at the time. I remember being on the roof of Wapping and looking down and seeing all the press guys. I didn't see Mr Blair with them waiting. I don't remember having a prior discussion with them about it. In 2005 we didn't tell anyone until we got to the roof of Wapping.' Jay turns to a particular Sun article, from 2005, which said there had been a crushing blow to Brown's hopes as PM. It claimed that Blair had told 'close allies' he intended to lead Labour for five more years. Where did that come from, asked Jay. Was it Blair, did he plant it? 'I can't tell you that at all.' Brooks asked where Jay heard a rumour about her passing on material gained from Gordon Brown to Tony Blair, and he responded that he was not going to 'reveal his sources' either. 'We can play this game all day,' she said. She suggested John Prescott was his source. Jay didn't reply. 'I think your source might be John Prescott. It's not true.' Jay asked if Brooks had much less contact with Brown as PM than Blair. 'He wasn't prime minister for very long, in 2009 the Sun came out for the Tories and contact was very limited after that,' said Brooks. Jay asked Brooks about the deteriorating relationship with Brown. He said that by March 2009 the Sun was 'moving inexorably' towards supporting the Conservative party. 'Not quite the way I would describe it,' Brooks replied. She said it was around March 2009, maybe a bit later, when Brown announced that the Labour did not intend to hold a referendum on the European constitution She claimed this was a 'renege' on promise they had made in their 2005 manifesto. The Daily Scum Mail, the Daily Torygraph and the Sun - all the nasty Little Englanders, please note - called for 'a snap election' in the autumn of 2009 (one which, ironically, Brown might have won). Brooks said that the Sun was considered a 'very pro-armed forces' newspaper so it received a lot of feedback from readers about the government's Afghanistan campaign. By 2009 'we were running out of ways to support Mr Brown's government,' she claimed . Brooks was asked about her own 'social circle.' Is it true that there was a circle of friends including her, Wendi Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch and, at one stage, Sarah Brown? 'We all knew each other, we didn't meet as a group like that very often, probably only once,' she claimed. Brooks talked about meeting readers, the Sun's 'legendary post room', and stressed the paper's respect for its readers. Some of these readers, she claimed, sometimes call the paper asking for directions when they are lost, to illustrate the kind of relationship the paper strives to have with the public. And, to illustrate the kind of lame-brained numskulls who read the Sun it would seem. Brooks claimed that 'being rude' to readers is 'a sackable offence' at the Sun. Jay asked about the Tory leadership election. Brooks said: 'I don't remember having a particular line in the paper about the leadership.' Did she have any involvement in Andy Coulson's appointment as director of communications for the Conservative party? Brooks replied that she did not. She added that she heard about it from Andy Coulson himself. What was her reaction? 'I probably said "well done." He'd had to resign from the News of the World and he had found a good job; as a friend I was pleased for him.' Wasn't she surprised that the Tory party wanted to appoint Coulson, a man who had just resigned from a newspaper because one of the journalists working under his watch had been sent to prison for hacking members of the royal household? Brooks claimed that she was not, journalists are good communicators. Alastair Campbell worked Mirra, odious gobshite Amanda Platell worked for William Hague. There is a long history of journalists going into politics, it didn't occur to Brooks as anything different. Brooks met Cameron in Greece while she was there for Elisabeth Murdoch's birthday. He was only there for an afternoon and an evening, she said. Jay asks whether Brooks was 'pleased' with this occasion. 'Well, it was very cordial, it went well,' she said. Cameron also attended a New Year's Eve party at the home of a Brooks family member. Jay then turned to the Sun's support for the Tories, which James Murdoch told David Cameron about at an informal meeting on 9 September 2009 at The George in London. In June 2009, Brooks, the Sun's political editor Trevor Kavanagh and the Murdochs 'did start to have discussions', she said. Brooks claimed that by that time the Sun had 'lost things to support Gordon Brown on' so began to consider a change in political allegiance. Was the decision based on who was likely to win the election? Brooks again claimed it was 'about the Sun's readership. There were lots of issues that our readers were concerned about.' She added that during that summer the Sun had not written one editorial in support of Labour. Jay asked again if any part of this decision was based on who was likely to win the election. 'In general terms it would have been, but only a part of it because I can't remember the polls at the time. The Tories were in the lead back then, but polls are polls.' She said that the floating voter is important for the Sun. The 'overwhelming feedback' from readers was that they were unhappy with Labour, she added. Brooks maintained that no one outside of Wapping knew the exact timing of when the Sun would switch its support to the Tories. She described herself as 'instrumental' in the decision on the timing: the Sun pronounced its support for the Tories after Gordon Brown's speech at the Labour party conference in 2009. Brooks said she felt it 'unfair to cloud a party conference' by announcing the switch before the Labour conference, rather than after. 'The reason for that night is because Mr Brown's speech. The key was that he spent less than two minutes on Afghanistan. We felt that was the right timing in order to distance ourselves,' she claimed. Brooks accepted that she knew the Sun's switch in allegiance would anger Labour figures. Was this a 'show of strength' from the Sun? 'I don't think we've ever seen it in those terms,' she claimed. 'My main responsibility was to a readership.' Brooks told the inquiry that the Sun had a very close relationship with its readers. How close? Brooks and all her staff, including big name columnists, would make an annual trip to what she described as a '£9.50 holiday camp' where they would meet the readers and take part in 'all sorts of fun and games' including, back in 2007, 'Strictly Sun Dancing.' Page three girls (and their massive jugs), writers Ally Ross and Jane Moore and royal snapper Arthur Edwards were also at the 2007 weekend shindig at a former Butlin's holiday camp (Brooks, one hastens to add, didn't go into this much detail for the benefit of Brian Leveson). Brooks claimed that she had tried to contact Gordon Brown, Sarah Brown and Peter Mandelson to speak to her before the Sun published its front-page switch in support. She said that Mandelson 'seemed quite angry, but not surprised.' Brooks eventually spoke to Brown in October 2009, a few weeks after the Sun announcement. Why did she not speak to him sooner? 'It was clear that there was nothing more to say at that point. I don't think he wanted to talk to me.' She did not make it clear whether Lord Mandelson called the Sun 'a bunch of chumps', as reported, or 'something more Anglo-Saxon', as rumoured, when he learned of the decision. Brown telephoned Brooks in October after the Sun attacked him over what they described as an 'apparently illegible letter' he had sent to the bereaved mother of a dead soldier. Brooks, who was then News International chief executive, said that Brown was 'very aggressive' but claimed that she 'understood his concern' over what she admits was an overly personal attack. She spoke to Sun editor Dominic Mohan on the morning of the headline and said it should not happen again. 'The tone of it was very aggressive and quite rightly [Brown] was hurt by the projection and headline that had been put on the story. He suspected or thought that this may be a way in which the Sun was going to behave. I assured him it wasn't, that it was a mistake, and that this wasn't how the Sun was going to behave.' Doesn't the Sun quite often indulge in personal attacks on people it doesn't like? Brooks denied this. 'The fact it resulted in such an extraordinarily aggressive conversation between me and Mr Brown suggests it doesn't happen, I don't accept that.' Jay asks if politicians fear personal attacks by the Sun. Brooks claimed: 'Neil Kinnock might think that [but] I'm not sure the paper has been like that for a while. Occasionally, obviously, depending on the story that would happen in the main the Sun concentrated on the issues rather than just attacking for the sake of personal attacks.' Jay suggested prying intrusively and personal attacks has been part of the metier of the Sun for many years. Brooks said: 'Holding politicians to account has occasionally been found to be intrusive but these are not the policy. When a newspaper oversteps the line I have heard criticism of papers that I have edited, that privacy is a hugely debated topic in every newsroom, your premise was "this was the culture", I was disputing that.' Jay said politicians fear if they depart from what the paper wants there may be a personal attack. Brooks argued: 'It's not fair to say politicians live in fear of newspapers. MPs don't scare easily.' Brooks said that there was a negative reaction from Sun readers to its front-page criticism of Brown's letter to the bereaved mother. 'And, I think that was probably fair.' Murdoch told Brooks that Brown had 'declared war' on News Corp, she said, something Brown himself has denied. Brown was 'very angry, I'm not sure there was anything particularly relevant to this inquiry. Mr Murdoch told me the same story that he told you,' said Brooks. Brown had made 'similar comments made about the Sun and "abandoning" Labour after twelve years, hostile comments,' she added. 'When Mr Murdoch told me his conversation it didn't surprise me. He told me exactly what he told the inquiry.' Brooks received insinuations from others 'close to Brown' about threats to News Corp, she said, repeating that the then-prime minister was 'incredibly aggressive and angry' towards her personally. Jay asked if she was 'fearful' if Labout did win the election that Brown had it within his power to 'harm' News International? Brooks replied: 'I didn't think that. At not any point in the conversation with Mr Brown if he wins he will go against the commercial interests of the company. He was just incredibly aggressive and angry.' Jay wanted to know what was Brooks's thinking in the run-up to the 2010 election about the possibility of a Labour victory when Brown had displayed hostility towards News International. It did not occur to her that Labour might carry out threats which, she alleges, had been made if the party was returned to power, she said. 'It shouldn't be about his personal prejudices.' Jay turned back to David Cameron. There is an absence of text messages which might have existed, isn't there? Brooks confirmed this and said that it is 'preposterous' and 'not true' that Cameron texted her a dozen times a day. 'I would text Mr Cameron, and vice versa, on occasion,' she says. 'Between January 2010, during election campaign ... on average, once a week.' Sometimes she would text him twice a week. What were these text messages about? 'Some if not the majority were to do with organisation, meeting up or arranging to speak, some were about a social occasion and occasionally would be my own personal comment about a TV debate, something like that.' Jay asked how often Brooks met Cameron in the first five months of 2010, in run-up to the general election. 'Three or four times,' claimed Brooks. What comments did Brooks make about the politicians' TV debates in the 2010 election? 'I felt the first one wasn't very good,' she said. Did she text the other two party leaders? 'I didn't text Gordon Brown no.' Nick Clegg? She didn't text him either. Just David Cameron. 'How were these texts signed off? Everyone wants to know,' said Jay. Leveson asked: 'Do I?' 'He would sign them off "DC" in the main,' said Brooks. Anything else? 'Occasionally he would sign them off LOL, "lots of love", until I told him it meant "laugh out loud" and he didn't sign them that anymore. In the main DC I'd have thought.' A, clearly bored-looking Leveson said: 'Right, done that. Move on.' Brooks was asked about a meeting with Cameron at a point-to-point horse race. She said that she did not meet Cameron, although he may have seen her husband, and did not text the PM beforehand. Brooks was asked if she discussed the phone-hacking allegations with Cameron between the July 2009 Gruniad story and 2011? 'Yes I did,' she replied. 'On occasion. Not very often, once or twice, because of the phone-hacking story was a constant, it kept coming up, so we would bring it up, maybe in 2010 we had a more specific conversation with it,' she claimed. 'It was one I remember rather than the story being around.' She added that Cameron was 'interested in the latest developments. It was about the amount of civil cases coming in around the end of 2010.' Was he 'concerned' that phone-hacking went beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire? 'Probably yes. It was a general conversation about the increase in the civil cases.' All of which suggests that David Cameron didn't believe the 'single "rouge" reporter' line that News International spun for four years any more than anyone else did. Jay pressed Brooks on this conversation. Brooks said that she 'explained the story behind the news, just a general update.' Jay said he was interested in what Cameron said to her, not the other way round. Cameron asked her about a civil case that came out, she said. Was it, asked Jay, related to his hiring of Coulson? 'Not on that instance, no.' On any other instance? Brooks, twice, denied that any such conversation had taken place. Jay moved on to Elisabeth Murdoch and her husband, Matthew Freud. He asked how often had Brooks been to the Freuds' home, her own home, or the Camerons' home, in the company of other politicians? Never at Cameron's home, Brooks claimed. 'Once George Osborne at a dinner at my own. The only time at Elisabeth Murdoch's house, her fortieth birthday party, a couple of years ago.' Jay turns to Murdoch's fortieth, at the Burford Priory which he said 'I detect may be in Oxfordshire.' 'Well done,' said Leveson, dryly at his counsel's geographical expertise. When was Brooks 'made aware' the News Corp bid would be made for the rest of BSkyB? 'Before the public announcement, shortly before.' Before the general election or after? 'I think it was before.' She added: 'I played no formal role in the BSkyB transaction. I was made aware that it was on the cards before the public announcement. Maybe six weeks, a couple of months beforehand.' Brooks claimed that she 'probably' did get involved in lobbying politicians for News Corp over the BSkyB deal. She said: 'I did have an informal role as you suggest, mainly after the formation of the anti-Sky bid alliance because that brought News International into what was a News Corp transaction because the anti Sky alliance was, well, everyone else. They were using their own news outlets to promote their view and lobby politicians, I probably did get involved.' Brooks added that she would 'waste no time' in putting News Corp's case for the deal as 'a counter-voice in a very large opposition.' Brooks was asked when she was first made aware of Rubicon, the News Corp codename for the BSkyB bid. 'Around the same time, maybe a couple of months before,' she said. Did she know who chose that codename? 'I think it might have been James Murdoch,' she said, but added that she doesn't know for certain. Did anyone in government know the codename, such as George Osborne or the vile and odious rascal Hunt? 'I never heard them acknowledge that name.' Jay asked if Brooks 'raised' the takeover with Cameron, for example discussed at dinner with him in December 2010. 'It was mentioned but not widely discussed. It was mentioned because it was in the news because Dr Cable had resigned from that role.' Brooks said that it was 'disappointing' when it emerged Vince Cable had 'some personal prejudice' over the deal. How well did she know the vile and odious rascal Hunt? 'Not as well as others. Not particularly.' Was she putting out feelers to find out if the vile and odious rascal Hunt would be 'on side'? 'I think he had posted something on his website saying he was "quite favourable", before the decision went to him. But not from a direct conversation with Mr Hunt.' What about the Boxing Day 2010 meeting with Cameron? The prime minister 'attended a Boxing Day mulled wine mince pie party at my sister-in-law's. I popped in on my way to another dinner. I don't have any memory – I don't think I did speak to him or Samantha. I would have seen them but not even to have a proper conversation.' Jay turned to more general conversations between Brooks and politicians. She said she 'never really' had a conversation with a politician about the BBC and 'not enough' about self-regulation of the press. Cherie Blair discussed the Daily Scum Mail's hostile coverage of Tony with Brooks, she claimed. 'Cherie Blair was concerned that she felt a lot of her coverage was quite sexist. But she's not the first high-profile female to think that about the UK media,' she claimed. 'She sometimes felt it was quite cruel about her weight.' Brooks was asked about Blair's description of the media as 'feral beasts' in June 2007. 'I was quite surprised when he said that,' she said, adding that Blair 'did not communicate' those concerns to her. 'I always examined the ulterior motives of politicians,' Brooks claimed. But, she said, she doesn't know a politician who would turn down a meeting with a senior journalist at a broadcaster or newspaper. 'Politicians were keen to put their case to me and my colleagues at the Sun because of the large readership of the Sun.' Politicians would occasionally complain about coverage of them in the Sun, Brooks said. She added that Blair would 'often' complain about the Sun's attitude to Europe. Brooks agreed that she was 'close' to Rupert Murdoch. So, in order for any politician to get close to Murdoch they had to get close to Brooks? She denied this. Jays asked whether Brooks believed that British politicians thought she had 'influence' over Murdoch. 'No. Politicians did want to get access to the editor of the Sun and his or her team as much as possible. But I don't think people thought to get to Mr Murdoch they had to get through me,' she claimed. 'I always examined the ulterior motives of politicians. I thought it was pretty obvious – I don't know a politician who would turn down a meeting with a senior journalist from any broadcaster or newspaper. It's been the same case for decades.' Jay asked if it was important for Brooks to build 'friendships' with senior politicians. 'I don't see politicians as these easily scared people,' Brooks said, when asked by Jay whether politicians could have been scared of her in her former role at News International. Brooks said that 'some friendships were made' but politicians never forgot that she was a journalist and she never forgot that they were politicians. Did she feel she had personal power over politicians? 'I just didn't see it like that. I saw my role as editor of the Sun as a very responsible one.' Jay suggested that Brooks was aware of her ability to be empathetic with people. 'I hope to be empathetic, yes,' she said, after Jay reassured her that he was not suggesting 'anything sinister.' Brooks was asked about the serialisation in The Sunday Times and the Sun of a book by Kate McCann, the mother of Madeleine. Gerry McCann told the inquiry that they were initially 'horrified' about the serialisation, but were later convinced after News International pledged to back their campaign if they agreed to the serialisation. Brooks claimed that she could not remember how much News International paid for the book serialisation. 'Hundreds of thousands. It wasn't a million. Half-a-million maybe?' She added: 'I had always got on very well with Gerry and Kate McCann. I think if asked they would be very positive about the Sun. In this case I thought Dominic Mohan's idea to run the campaign, this review of Madeleine's case by the Home Secretary, was the right thing to do. I don't think I spoke to Theresa May directly. Dominic may have done.' Brooks said she did not take the McCann issue up with Downing Street. Editor Dominic Mohan or Tom Newton-Dunn, the Sun's political editor, will have spoken to No 10 or the Home Office about reopening the Madeleine investigation after the Sun's campaign, she said. Was there an ultimatum or threat to the Home Secretary? 'I'm pretty sure there will not have been a threat, but you will have to ask Dominic Mohan,' she said. Jay suggested that he 'has been told' that Brooks 'intervened personally' with the prime minister and said that the Sun would put Theresa May on the front page every day until the paper's demands were met. Brooks said that was not true. 'I did not say to the prime minister we would put Theresa May on the front page every day. If I'd had any conversations with No 10 directly they would not have been particularly about that,' she added. Lord Justice Leveson intervened. He asked whether Brooks was 'involved' in 'a strategy' to 'threaten' No 10 in order to obtain a review of the Madeleine investigation. 'I was certainly part of a strategy to launch a campaign in order to get a review for the McCanns,' Brooks said, disputing that it was 'a threat.' Leveson: 'Give me another word for it, would you?' Brooks: 'Persuade?' Leveson appeared wholly unconvinced. Jay suggested the government 'yielded' to Brooks's pressure to reopen the McCann investigation. 'It only took about a day,' he noted, pithily. Brooks insisted that this was 'a worthwhile campaign.' Jay asked about Dominic Grieve, the former shadow home secretary. Over dinner, Brooks once spoke to him about the Human Rights Act. He was in favour of it and she was not, Jay claimed. Brooks said that Grieve believed the Tory pledge to replace the HRA with a British bill of rights 'should not be so easily promised.' The dinner conversation was 'quite heated' as Grieve did 'not toe the party line' on the future of the act, she claimed. 'I did not tell Mr Cameron to move him,' Brooks said, pressed by Jay. 'They [Grieve's shadow cabinet colleagues] were concerned that his view was not to be taken seriously.' Brooks maintained that she did not give Cameron 'any advice' on Grieve. Cameron and Osborne were 'at pains' to tell Brooks that Grieve was 'mistaken' and that he did not share that view, she added. Jay turns to Labour MPs. He raised critical comments by Labour MP Chris Bryant in 2004. Bryant claimed that Brooks told him at the Labour Party conference that he should be 'out on Clapham Common' after the openly gay MP had made comments critical of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Brooks said she did 'not recall' making those comments. Jay asked if Brooks forced Sun journalists to write stories 'critical or untrue' about Tom Watson MP. Brooks denied this. She said that she 'might' have said 'What are we going to do about Mr Watson?' in a conversation with Nick Robinson, the political editor of the BBC. Brooks denied using the Sun to criticise politicians whom she, personally, did not like. Jay returned to News Corp's bid for BSkyB. Brooks said that she has defended the bid. 'I think the anti-Sky bid alliance had so many members, and that they I knew were seeing politicians, I think Dr Cable had a dinner with them early on in 2010, if I met people and I had the chance to put our side of the story I would.' Didn't she raise it with David Cameron and George Osborne? She said that her remarks to Cameron 'are not to be dwelled on' because it was in passing, but she did have a conversation with Osborne in 2010. 'The BSkyB bid was mentioned at the dinner at our home in December, but I don't remember having a particularly forceful discussion with Mr Cameron on it,' she said. Cameron 'always made it very clear that he turned it into, or it was a quasi-judicial decision and it wasn't up to him. He was always very even-handed of it.' Jay asked was Cameron 'particularly supportive' of the BSkyB bid? Brooks denied this. Was Osborne 'particularly supportive' of the BSkyB bid? Brooks replied: 'He never explicitly said so. He was interested in our arguments, I think that's probably at its best.' Jay asked whether Brooks was aware of the role of News Corp's Fred Michel in the BSkyB bid. Michel is the News Corp lobbyist at the heart of the row over the vile and odious rascal Hunt's conduct in the controversial bid. Brooks said that she was 'not aware' of the e-mails until recently. 'I often felt Mr Michel over-egged his position,' she said, adding that his 'level of access that seemed to come out was pretty good really.' Jay asked about an e-mail from Brooks herself to Michel. Brooks had met with George Osborne the previous night and 'part of the dinner I would have discussed our frustration at what was going on. Not at any great length.' She told Michel that Osborne's response to Ofcom's issues letter was 'total bafflement.' Brooks said she 'cannot remember' who brought the BSkyB deal up over dinner with Osborne, but she reluctantly accepted that it may well have been her. Jay asked if this was 'appropriate.' 'For one three-minute conversation at the beginning of dinner I got the opportunity to give our view. I don't think that is inappropriate,' Brooks said. Others may, of course, feel differently. Brooks claimed that she had conversations with James and Rupert Murdoch about 'the latest moves' of the anti-Sky bid alliance. Brooks said that she may have been 'naive' to believe the Sky bid would be dealt with 'properly' by ministers. Jay turned to an e-mail disclosed to the inquiry by Brooks herself. He asked why only one e-mail was disclosed. Brooks said: 'Between June and 17 July, when my BlackBerry was imaged there was some e-mails and some text messages, legal team went through all those, this was the only e-mail I had in that period that was relevant to the BSkyB questions I had been asked.' Jay said the e-mail showed that Michel had been told what the vile and odious rascal Hunt planned to say to parliament about the BSkyB bid in the coming week. The e-mail text, as read by Jay, said: 'Hunt will be making reference to phone hacking in his statement on Rubicon this week. He will be the same narrative as the one he gave in parliament a few weeks ago. This is based on his belief that the police are pursuing things thoroughly and phone-hacking has nothing to do with its media plurality issue.' Brooks said: 'I think it was news to me and therefore could be surprising.' Jay read the next paragraph of the e-mail from Michel to Brooks: 'JH is now starting to look into phone hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and No 10's "positioning."' Jay turned to Brooks's meetings with senior police officers. Did she discuss phone-hacking with, for example, Champagne John Yates? Brooks said that she was 'not sure' but that she 'may have' discussed it with him at the Police Bravery Awards in July 2009. She claimed that she did not have a detailed conversation about hacking with Yates as far she can remember. Brooks was asked about hospitality. Did she view hospitality towards police officers in the same way as to politicians? Police officers wanted to go to 'a neutral venue' like a restaurant, whereas politicians would be more happy to meet at a convenient venue, such as Wapping, she said. Brooks said there was 'absolutely not' any trade between the retired police horse Raiza and the work experience at News International given to the son of Dick Fiasco, Scotland Yard's ex-head of public affairs. Brooks was asked about the Sun story on Gordon Brown's son, Fraser, having cystic fibrosis in 2006. The Sun published a story on 13 July 2011 apparently debunking allegations made by Gordon Brown that the story had been obtained via illicit newsgathering methods. Brooks said that she had no involvement in the 2011 story. She claimed the Sun has a written affidavit from a man whose son also has cystic fibrosis. Jay pressed Brooks, repeatedly, on where, exactly, this man got his information about Brown's son from. 'He'd got the information because his own son had cystic fibrosis and through a very small charity. He got it slightly by involvement through that,' she claimed, before refusing to say any more for fear of identifying the man in question. Lord Justice Leveson said that Brown was 'concerned' the Sun had obtained the story through illegitimate means (as opposed to via third-hand information from this nameless individual, as it now appears). 'It's not unreasonable to believe if private details of your child's condition are being put into the public domain they can only have come from medical records,' he suggested. Brooks claimed: 'It wasn't something that he felt at the time. He came to the wrong assumption in 2011.' Leveson pointed out, reasonably, that the tone of the 2011 Sun article was to go on the attack, rather than simply state that Brown was mistaken in his assumptions. Brooks replied that Brown has twice attacked the Sun in parliament and 'the Sun felt that it was a smear and that he was doing it five years later for a particular reason.' Leveson asked whether it was reasonable for Brown to form the view that the information had been gained by the Sun hacking into his son's medical records. The Sun countered that Brown's claim - some time after the original story - was 'false and a smear.' Leveson suggested that if Brown's suspicion was reasonable, though false, did the Sun's response highlight a newspaper tactic that 'attack was the best form of defence.' Brooks claimed the Sun felt that it had to stand up with a 'strong tone' to the accusation that would have 'damaged readers' trust' in the paper. Brooks denied the information on Fraser Brown was obtained through 'subterfuge' or that the information was gained directly from the Browns. She said 'you could say' the alleged 'source' got the information 'from a third party', but not from a member of the NHS. She continued that this individual had 'obtained' the information through a charity dealing with cystic fibrosis. Pressed further on exactly how, Brooks said: 'I feel uncomfortable answering that because it could lead to his identity. They are matters I have to respect as a source coming to the newspaper.' Brooks said that the Sun had the Browns' permission to run the story. She added a claim that if the Browns had asked her not to run the story then she would not have published it. Jay again pressed Brooks on the source of the story. Brooks refused to go into more detail, but Jay persevered. Brooks finally admitted that the man did not gain the information via subterfuge or via the Browns. Jay asked if it was from a third party. 'I suppose you could describe it as that,' said Brooks. Was that third party an employee of the NHS? 'No.' Did they have a duty of confidence? 'I don't think so.' Brooks said that the Sun 'entirely' had the permission of the Browns to publish this story in November 2006. She claimed that the only reason they ran it was because they felt they had the permission of the Browns. Did she get consent from Sarah or Gordon Brown? 'I spoke to the Browns, I will have spoken to people around them, I probably discussed it with Sarah more as she was my friend,' Brooks claimed. Jay asked whether Brooks told Sarah Brown they were determined to publish the story but in a responsible way. 'Absolutely not,' said Brooks. 'I was very friendly with Mrs Brown she had been through a hell of a lot. First thing I would have said would have been much more considerate and caring. I was very sad for them.' Brooks maintained that Sarah and Gordon Brown 'remained friendly' after the original Sun story was published in 2006. She said: 'You have to remember this is 2006, it is only five years later that Mr Brown was in any way concerned about my behaviour, the Sun, how we handled it. After 2006 I continued to see them both regularly. They held a fortieth birthday party for me, they attended my wedding, Sarah and I were good friends.' Brooks was asked about the Sun's campaign against the Haringey social workers, including Sharon Shoesmith, involved in the 'Baby P' case in 2007. Shoesmith was sacked by Ed Balls, then a secretary of state, in 2008. The Sun launched an e-petition calling for people to be sacked. Jay asked whether Brooks had telephoned Balls calling for Shoesmith to be sacked in November 2008 'or we will turn this thing on him.' Brooks denied this. She added that she did have conversations with Balls and that he was aware of the Sun's e-petition. She confirmed that the pair did discuss the issue in a telephone call. Did she indicate that she wanted Balls to sack Shoesmith? 'I didn't tell Ed Balls to fire Sharon Shoesmith. Yes I had conversations with Mr Balls; I also spoke to the shadow minister, who I think was Michael Gove.' Brooks and Jay dispute the meaning of this conversation. Brooks: 'The premise of your questioning is, did I tell Ed Balls to sack Sharon Shoesmith? In fact in the newspaper it was very clear that was the Sun's editorial line. Mr Balls was under no illusion that was the point of our campaign.' Jay asked if this was 'the point' of Brooks's phone call. She said that it was in part petition 'and we ourselves at the Sun were very surprised by the level – one and a half million is a huge reaction and it will have been to feed back that.' Jay turned to general points to conclude Brooks's evidence. Do editors have 'sole discretion' of what constitutes the public good? Brooks claimed that they did not. 'There's a huge team at newspapers who all contribute,' she said, adding that readers make up their own minds on issues put to them by newspapers. Jay asked whether the public good means exposing the private weaknesses of public figures. 'When it would not be in the public interest?' answered Brooks. 'If there had been no trust broken between them and their constituents. Each editor's judgment is their own,' she added. Jay asked about the Scum of the World's campaign for a Sarah's law that would name and shame sex offenders. What does she say to a police chief constable's accusation that it was 'grossly irresponsible'? Brooks claimed it was a way of 'highlighting the central issue of the campaign' about sex offenders in communities. 'I disagreed with [the comment] at the time,' she said. But why did the Scum of the World need to name and picture known sex offenders? She said: 'Because it was the point of the information it was news to me that convicted paedophiles of that nature were allowed to live unchecked in the community and parents didn't have any information.' She added that in 2000, during the campaign, it was 'a way of highlighting the central issue of the campaign, the huge gap between what the readers thought was the situation and really was the situation.' Brooks said she did 'not predict' reprisals as a result of the Scum of the World's campaign. Which, if true, means that Brooks is a really very stupid woman indeed as, even an idiot could have had a reasonable idea what would happen next. Jay asked whether it was 'evidently inflammatory' to publish the offenders' details with the foreseeable consequence that there would be reprisals. Brooks claimed that could not have been predicted - particularly an attack on a paediatrician mistaken for a paedophile which probably says more about the average intelligence of the average Scum of the World reader than it does about anything else - and claimed that Jay had the 'benefit of hindsight.' Two people suffered sickening vigilante attacks, including a paediatrician. 'I don't think anyone could have predicted the paediatrician situation. I didn't predict the outcome,' she said, miserably. Jay said that in general terms it would have been 'plain as a pikestaff' to Brooks that some people could suffer reprisals as a result of this campaign. 'No I won't agree,' said Brooks. 'I did not predict there was going to be a riot in Paulsgrove or that a member of the public would mistake a paedophile for a paediatrician.' It was not just bold but designed to inflame, said Jay. 'It is not my opinion and I'm not going to agree with you,' said Brooks. She did admit that she does have 'some regrets' about the Scum of the World's naming of sex offenders. 'I do have some regrets about the campaign. Particularly the list of convicted paedophiles that we put into the paper. I felt we made some mistakes by just going on an appearance in the Sex Offenders Act, which wasn't necessarily the right criteria. However, I still feel the mechanics that we used was the right thing to do.' Jay said that it is ironic that Brooks has repeatedly complained about the sourcing of various claims put to her, given her background in tabloid journalism. Jay pointed out the irony of Brooks challenging the accuracy of stories. She said he had presented 'gossipy'-type stories, and Jay - gleefully - pointed out that they are just the kind of stories formerly carried by the Scum of the World and to still be found regularly in the Sun. Brooks said: 'We are not in a tabloid newsroom now, we are in an inquiry.' Brooks described them as 'gossipy items' and said they are 'a systematic issue that I think is gender-based.' She claimed that if she was a 'grumpy old man' no one would write about her relationship with Rupert Murdoch. She continued: 'You have put to me quite a few gossipy items, for want of a better word: my personal alchemy; did Rupert Murdoch and I swim? Where did I get the horse from? Did Mr Murdoch buy me a suit? The list is endless. I do feel that is merely a systematic issue that I think a lot of it is gender-based – if I was a grumpy old man of Fleet Street no one would write a first thing about it.' Brooks said it would be the 'height of hypocrisy' for her to complain about 'trivial' questions put to her by Jay. However, she questioned why Jay asked her about swimming with Murdoch and the suit he was wrongly reported to have bought her. 'I wasn't asking you to complain,' said Leveson, witheringly. Brooks said 'much has been made' of informal contact between journalists and politicians. 'I believe if journalists meet politicians it's going to be incredibly hard for the journalist to be transparent or forced to be transparent about that,' she said, adding that this is how journalists get information. 'I have never compromised my position as a journalist by having a friendly relationship with a politician and never known a politician comprise their position.' Much had been made of 'cosy relationships and informal contact' between journalists and politicians. She added the current government has 'improved transparency.' Brooks said that it is 'ordinary people's views that make newspapers powerful.' She referred to Piers Morgan's Daily Mirra and its 'very good' campaign against the Iraq war titled Not in my name. The Sun was supportive of the Iraq war and ran an article headed Why Mirror readers are wrong, Brooks said, adding: 'The Sun being pro-military always stayed very supportive. The circulation of the Mirra plummeted. [Morgan] continued to drive an editorial line in the paper which was against the readership and they reacted pretty swiftly.' So, Leveson asked, is it responsiveness or leadership? 'It is a bit of both,' claimed Brooks.

Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah have challenged well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks claims at the Leveson inquiry that the ex-prime minister was 'content' to see details of his son's cystic fibrosis published in the Sun. In a strongly worded statement issued following Brooks appearance, where her claims were challenged by barrister Robert Jay, the couple also said they remained 'concerned' about the absence of 'a satisfactory explanation' about how private medical information relating to the child got into the hands of the Sun, 'and the possible payments involved.' Former advisers have already made clear that in November 2006 Brown was 'deeply upset' when his staff was informed by political journalists that the Sun had got hold of the story that his four-month-old son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The Sun team wanted to know how Brown, who was chancellor at the time, and his staff 'wanted to handle' the fact and whether it wished to issue a statement to the paper. Following consultations, Brown told his communications staff to tell the Sun that he planned to make a statement to the Press Association and that he did not want it to be seen that he was giving an exclusive about a story of this nature to the newspaper. There were then further personal private phone calls between well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Sarah Brown, as well as Gordon Brown himself. It is alleged that in this series of discussions, Brooks objected to the idea of the Browns giving their exclusive to the press in general, and said that once he was prime minister, he would 'not be able to handle' these kind of personal issues in this way. Hours after Brooks had appeared at the inquiry, the Browns said they had always tried to keep their children away from the limelight, adding: 'The idea that we would have volunteered our permission or were happy that a story about our son's health was about to enter the public domain is untrue. We were presented via the Treasury press office with the notification that the Sun had obtained information about our newborn son's health a few months after his birth in 2006 and was preparing to run a story.' The statement went on: 'At no stage did anyone from the Sun ask permission to publish this story. Given that we were presented with a fait accompli, our whole objective was to minimise the damage. We handled it as best we could at the time. Sarah Brown did speak at length to Mrs Brooks to ensure that reporting was not unduly negative about the prospect for her son's health, mindful of her own family and of other CF families around Britain. She then quickly contacted her wider family and friends as they had not yet been notified. Every subsequent action that followed was an attempt to reduce any future coverage about our children. We remain concerned that there is no satisfactory explanation of how private medical information, known to very few people, got into the hands of The Sun and the possible payments involved.' Asked by Jay at the inquiry if she had the express permission of the Browns to publish the story about their son, Brooks replied: 'Absolutely.' So, therefore it would appear that someone is lying. But, who to believe? The former editor of the Scum of the World and the Sun or former prime minister Gordon Brown. Toughie, isn't it?

And, then there was the Labour MP Chris Bryant who has also disputed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks's version of events, after the ex-News International chief executive told the Leveson inquiry she 'could not remember' making an apparently offensive - and potentially homophobic - comment to the politician in 2004. Bryant said he was 'absolutely certain' that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had made 'a snide remark' about his sexuality in retaliation for the MP's outspoken criticism of Rupert Murdoch at the Labour party conference that year. Brooks was asked by the Leveson inquiry counsel, Robert Jay, whether she could recall saying to Bryant: 'Ah, Mr Bryant. It's dark, isn't it? Shouldn't you be out on Clapham Common by now?' Brooks said she knew which anecdote Jay was referring to, but added: 'I don't remember saying that, no.' She was alleged to have made the remark at a News International drinks reception at the Labour party conference, where Bryant had said at a fringe meeting that Murdoch should not be allowed a monopoly of media ownership in the UK. At the time well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was editor of the Sun. Bryant told the Gruniad after Brooks's evidence: 'There are some things you are fairly sure about and some things you are absolutely certain about. This is something I am absolutely certain about.' He added: 'Kevin Maguire [the Daily Mirra political editor] wrote about it at the time. Andrew Pierce [the Daily Scum Mail columnist] wrote about it. We commiserated about this all night.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was asked by Jay whether she could remember what her then husband, TV hard man Ross Kemp, had said to her after her alleged comment. Bryant claims that Kemp told well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks: 'Shut up, you homophobic cow!' Brooks said: 'I remember what Mr Bryant said my then husband said. I don't think he said that.' Bryant maintained that he was 'absolutely certain' TV hard man Kemp had said this because 'apart from anything else, I wrote it down.' Perhaps the easiest way to sort this out would be for somebody to call TV hard man Ross Kemp before the Leveson inquiry and ask him. That's if he;'s not too busy fighting the Taliban single handed, of course. Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda, has been a prominent critic of News International over the phone-hacking affair, of which he was, himself, a victim. He said that he had recounted his version of events in a witness statement to the Leveson inquiry. The statement has not yet been made public. But, as noted, he also told exactly the same thing to the BBC's Panorama team in 2010 so the story's already in the public domain.

Alan Davies is to host the British Academy Television Craft Awards on Sunday 13 May at The Brewery in the City of London. The Craft awards salute the behind-the-scenes talent from television and new media. 'I'm looking forward to meeting the people who actually do all the work in TV and to seeing people accept awards without collapsing in tears,' said that Jonathan Creek and Qi star. Amanda Berry OBE, chief executive of BAFTA, said: 'Alan is one of those brilliant British talents that have done it all. Given that the Television Craft Awards recognise those that create television, the combination of his acting and stand-up experience, along with his proven track record in writing, makes him the perfect host for this year's event.' Sherlock, Doctor Who, Appropriate Adult and Birdsong are among the shows nominated for Craft awards this year.

Eddie Izzard is to run twenty seven marathons in twenty seven consecutive days, as a tribute to the former South African president Nelson Mandela. The marathons are intended to represent the twenty seven years that Mandela spent in captivity, shoes too small for to fit his feet, his body abused but his mind is still free ... and all that. They will geographically retrace the ninety three-year-old's life in South Africa. 'We're doing a documentary about his life, running in the areas of where he grew up,' said Izzard. 'Everywhere that resonates with his life, we are going to run.' The marathons, to be filmed for a documentary, will begin in the Eastern Cape, where Mandela was born and take in Pretoria, where he was on trial, and Robben Island - where he was imprisoned during the Apartheid era. 'Maybe you'll get this visceral relationship between the struggle of twenty seven years and the struggle of me trying to run marathons,' said Izzard, who was in Johannesburg at a fundraising event for the Nelson Mandela Foundation. All proceeds raised by the twenty seven marathons will be donated to the foundation and other South African charities. Izzard added that he did not expect to meet Mandela during the course of the challenge. 'I've already had the honour of meeting Mr Mandela. I don't want to bother him again. If someone says to him: "By the way, there's an idiot - you've met him before - he's doing these runs," hopefully he might go: "Oh, yes, running is a good idea. That is a positive thing." Or he might say: "He's crazy."' In 2009, the actor and comedian ran around the UK, effectively undertaking forty three marathons in fifty one days, to raise money for Sport Relief. His current challenge will be broadcast in the UK this autumn by Sky.

The Digital Spy website has an 'interview' with Ashleigh and Pudsey whom they suggest are red hot favourites to win this year's Britain's Got Talent. Obviously, Ashleigh has considerably more to say for herself, of the two.

Hermione Norris and Martin Clunes will lead ITV's new thriller A Mother's Son. The two-part drama - written by Chris Lang - will focus on the aftermath of a shocking murder. When Rosie (Norris) discovers a pair of bloodied trainers in her home, she begins to suspect that her son Jamie - played by Skins actor Alexander Arnold - may be responsible for the death of a teenage schoolgirl. Doc Martin star Clunes will play Rosie's new husband Ben, while the great Paul McGann will also star as her ex-husband and unlikely confidante, David. 'A Mother's Son is the story of an ordinary mother tormented by her suspicions and thoughts that her son may be capable of murder,' said ITV Drama's Victoria Fea. 'She's confronted with this terrifying dilemma and has to ask herself, should she go to the police and give him up? She'll wrestle with this throughout what is a very compelling drama.' 'Chris Lang has written a beautifully, compelling script,' added ITV Studios executive producer Myar Craig-Brown. 'We're delighted Martin Clunes and Hermione Norris have agreed to play Ben and Rosie.' A Mother's Son is filming on location in London and Suffolk.

The hit American sitcom 30 Rock is to come to an end, following an abbreviated seventh series, amid falling ratings. The critically-acclaimed comedy, which debuted in 2006, won a string of Emmys but has been overshadowed by the success of Modern Family and Glee. Created by comedian Tina Fey, the show revolves around the production of a late night sketch show, and stars Fey alongside Alec Baldwin. However, audiences have dwindled to an average 3.5 million viewers in the US. Fey plays Liz Lemon, the head writer of fictional series TGS, who has to deal with dysfunctional stars and a disastrous love-life. Baldwin is Jack Donaghy, the gravel-voiced neo-con boss of TV network NBC, who becomes Lemon's unofficial mentor. The show is partly based on Fey's experiences of working on long-running sketch show Saturday Night Live. Last month, Baldwin appeared to suggest on Twitter that he was leaving the show, but Fey rebuffed the rumours on talk show The View. 'As far as I know, he's not leaving the show. We're all in this together 'til the end,' said Fey, in April. 'I think that he just maybe means that the end of the show - we're in six years - that the end of the show is visible on the horizon.' The final season will run for just thirteen episodes, and will be announced as part of NBC's forthcoming primetime schedule next week. The comedy was dropped from British terrestrial TV following its second series in 2009, after a run of poor viewing figures on Channel Five. It has since been shown in the UK on Comedy Central.

Police chiefs are calling on users of online social networking sites to be the 'eyes and ears' of officers to help combat the menace of 'trolls' who bully or abuse others via the web. So, become Copper's Narks, effectively. Personally, this blogger will be very happy to do this if he sees any illegal activity taking place online. So long as he gets paid whatever the going rate is for a serving police officer. If not, then, sorry guys, but do your own job. Police forces across the UK are investing more funds into making sure they are plugged into sites like Twitter and Facebook but their nature means they are having to rely on users to self-regulate or to alert the authorities to criminal behaviour. The lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers on e-crime prevention, Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, said the police did not have the resources to pro-actively target offenders. Hyde said: 'There is no Facebook squad or Twitter squad. We are not actively going out to catch people who have made inappropriate comments. We're not there to hunt people down.' He said that he believed in most cases online communities work best if they self-regulated without officers needing to get involved. 'But where allegations are made we can and do investigate,' he added. There have been a string of recent cases involving abuse via Twitter, most notably that of student Liam Stacey, who was jailed for fifty six days for posting disgusting racist tweets about the Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba following his collapse during a match. Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie, ACPO's lead on social media engagement, said that the police were 'focusing on how best to use and patrol social network sites.' Scobbie said at the 'high end' detectives pro-actively policed the web when they were, for example, investigating sexual grooming. But it was important social network users 'took it upon themselves' to take action against abusers. 'If you come across somebody behaving irresponsibly the onus is on you to do something about that if you care about that space.' No the onus isn't on us, mate, it's on you. That's your job. it's what you're paid for so start earning your wages. 'In my experience of Twitter and Facebook there are a lot of very responsible people who will be the eyes and ears and report stuff.' Scobbie said that more needed to be done to educate younger people, who will grow up as 'Internet natives', to know how to protect themselves and each other on the net. ACPO does not believe further legislation is needed to tackle cyber-bullying and trolling. Well no. Homophobia is already a crime. So is using racist language. So are making threats of violence against an individual. Two of the main acts used are the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003. Stacey was convicted under the Public Order Act 1986 – which could be used whether the comments were made online or on the street. One interesting Twitter development is the work of users who take it upon themselves to patrol the site for examples of abusive messages and try to shame perpetrators by re-tweeting them. Among them is @homophobes, which re-tweets examples of homophobic abuse to more than eight thousand followers. The abuser is likely to receive hundreds of messages challenging his or her comments and, indeed, his or her worldview. In an e-mail exchange, the @homophobes account holder said: 'I've discovered that many people don't realise how public the web is. After I re-tweet people, they get defensive when people tweet to them. Many times, they're surprised that people they don't know are actually seeing their content. I'd estimate that roughly every one in five homophobes I re-tweet deletes their tweet.' @homophobes said in most cases police did not need to monitor social networks. 'Many of the concerns with bullying and harassment can be fixed by the social networks themselves. Social networks need to give people all the tools they need to eliminate harassment (blocking, reporting, privacy filters, etc), and most importantly, they need to craft community behaviour to create negative repercussions for unwanted behaviour.' Another similar user is @alittleracist, who has written a client that searches for key words in the phrase 'I'm not a racist but ...' The account holder looks at the posts highlighted by the client and re-tweets those he feel ought to be highlighted. He said: 'I think police should probably stay out of social networks on the whole; it would be a full-time job to police it.' It would but, then again, just to repeat, that is, actually, what they're paid to do.

The man who foiled a Yemen-based al-Qaeda 'underwear bomb' plot was a British national of Middle Eastern origin, according to American media. UK officials declined to comment on the reports, but earlier this week the US said 'foreign agencies' were involved in the operation. The agent was sent by al-Qaeda to attack a US-bound plane, but left Yemen and gave the device to US intelligence. The US insists the bomb never posed a threat to the public. Western passport-holders have long been seen as prime targets for militant groups seeking to plan attacks. However, as well as reporting that the secret agent was a British citizen, NBC News in the US also says UK intelligence agencies were 'heavily involved' in his recruitment. The BBC's Paul Adams, in Washington, says it is 'unorthodox' for intelligence agencies to disclose any details about each others' operations - this is, after all, real life and not an episode of [spooks]. If true, the revelations about the undercover agent could raise eyebrows in UK intelligence agencies. Details of the operation have emerged over the course of this week. US intelligence learned in April of a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen. The group planned to attack a US-bound plane with a sophisticated bomb hidden in a passenger's underwear, an updated version of a 2009 device that evaded airport security. Officials have described the bomb as 'a custom fit' device which would have been hard to detect in airport security checks. It was said to have two forms of detonator and no metal parts, making it more sophisticated than the device that failed to explode on Christmas Day 2009. It then emerged that the would-be bomber was an undercover agent who had been recruited to infiltrate the group. When he was dispatched by al-Qaeda to undertake the suicide mission, the agent left Yemen with the bomb and delivered it directly to the CIA. The agent is now reported to be safe in Saudi Arabia while FBI analysts in the US are studying the device. Experts quoted in the US media say both the 2012 and 2009 bombs bear the hallmarks of AQAP master bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri. His name has also been linked to a plot in October 2010 to bomb a Chicago-bound plane using a device disguised as a printer cartridge. That plan, which AQAP claimed responsibility for, was also foiled with the help of the Saudi authorities. The undercover agent is also reported to have provided intelligence that led the CIA to conduct a drone strike in Yemen on Sunday which killed AQAP leader Fahd al-Quso. Quso was wanted in connection with the bombing of the American destroyer USS Cole in Yemen twelve years ago. The US was offering a five million dollar reward for information leading to his capture or death. In a separate development on Tuesday the Pentagon said the US had restarted military training with security forces in Yemen, which had been put on hold because of political unrest.

The celebrated combat photographer Horst Faas, who covered the Viet'nam War for the Associated Press, has died aged seventy nine, his daughter has said. Germany-born Faas won four major photo prizes, including two Pulitzers, during his career, and served as AP's Saigon photo chief at the height of the war. In Saigon he trained and mentored young Vietnamese photographers who captured many of the war's defining images. Faas was injured in 1967 and later used a wheelchair for many years. He died after suffering years of health problems, including paralysis from the waist down. 'Horst Faas was a giant in the world of photojournalism whose extraordinary commitment to telling difficult stories was unique and remarkable,' said Santiago Lyon, AP's global head of photography. 'He was an exceptional talent both behind the camera and editing the work of others and even in the grimmest circumstances he always made sure to live life to the fullest,' Lyon added. 'He will be sorely missed by scores of colleagues, especially that reduced group with whom he covered conflict, particularly the Vietnam generation.' Speaking to the BBC in 2007, Horst described his job in simple terms. 'I tried to be in the newspapers every day, to beat the opposition with better photos. I didn't try to do anything grandiose. The photos were used and published and asked for, because Viet'nam was on the front pages year after year after. I lived from day to day, from event to event. It was a perfect story for an agency photographer.' Horst began his career covering conflicts in 1960, four years after joining the Associated Press. He worked in what was then the Belgian Congo, and in Algeria, before relocating to Viet'nam, where he won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Accepting the award, he said he aimed to 'record the suffering, the emotions and the sacrifices of both Americans and Vietnamese in this little bloodstained country so far away,' AP said. He had a front row view of much of that suffering. When not in the midst of the conflict, Faas worked at AP's Saigon base, viewing and selecting images from his photographers to transmit on the wire to the rest of the world. Under his direction, AP photographers captured images that quickly became synonymous with the long war: among the most notable were Eddie Adams' image of the execution of a Viet Cong suspect and Nick Ut's picture of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack. Despite being injured in 1967, he stayed in the country until 1970. 'I don't think anyone stayed longer, took more risks or showed greater devotion to his work and his colleagues,' said New York Times journalist David Halberstam, who once lived with Haas. 'I think of him as nothing less than a genius.'

The company which owns the rights to Jimi Hendrix's music has responded to reports that a biopic of the guitar legend will shortly begin shooting. Such a film, it said in a statement, would need 'its full participation were it to include original music or copyrights created by Jimi Hendrix.' Andre Three Thousand of hip-hop duo OutKast is scheduled to play Hendrix in the film entitled All Is By My Side, it was reported this week. The Experience Hendrix company said it had not 'ruled out' a Hendrix biopic. Yet it insisted that 'producing partners would, out of necessity, have to involve the company from the inception of any such film project if it is to include original Jimi Hendrix music or compositions.' According to Billboard, Haley Atwell and Imogen Poots will star alongside Mister Three Thousand - real name Andre Benjamin - in the proposed film. It was reported this week that shooting would start in Ireland later this month and chronicle the time Hendrix spent in England in the late 1960s. A spokeswoman for its producers told the BBC News website earlier this week that she could not confirm any details about the project.

And, thus we get to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which today - for no particular reason, whatsoever, no siree Bob, very hot water - features a bit of yer actual Electric Light Orchestra. Nice.