Blair offered to aid Murdoch in hacking scandal
LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered to act as a secret adviser to Rupert Murdoch and two of his newspaper executives as they confronted revelations of illegal phone hacking, a London jury heard on Wednesday.
The disclosure — contained in an email sent by Rebekah Brooks, a former executive of News International, once the British branch of Murdoch's News Corp. media empire, and to Murdoch's son and deputy, James — was revealed as prosecutors wrapped up their case against seven defendants charged in the scandal.
In the email dated July 11, 2011, Brooks said she had spent an hour on the phone with Blair, who was “available for you, KRM (Rupert Murdoch) and me as unofficial adviser, but needs to be between us.”
Brooks is one of the defendants in the trial stemming from revelations that employees at Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, which she edited, eavesdropped on the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, royalty and even a teenager who was sexually assaulted and killed. The public outcry prompted the Murdoch family to close the popular, 168-year-old Sunday paper.
Brooks faces charges that include conspiracy to intercept cellphone messages, bribery of public officials and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by concealing evidence. Also on trial are Andy Coulson, another former News of the World editor who became chief press officer to Prime Minister David Cameron, Brooks' husband, Charlie, and other former senior editors and journalists. All the defendants deny the charges against them.
According to the email read in court Wednesday, Blair advised Brooks to set up an independent, public inquiry led by a criminal lawyer and “get them to publish a Hutton-style report,” a reference to an investigation that in 2004 cleared Blair's government of wrongdoing in its handling of intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq War.
Blair's advice, Brooks continued, was to “publish part one of the report at the same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept shortcomings and new solutions and process, and part two when any trials are over.”
In a statement issued later Wednesday, Blair's office confirmed that the conversation took place but said, “This was Mr. Blair simply giving informal advice over the phone.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Chinese jet buzzes Navy aircraft, Pentagon says
- Russia sends unauthorized convoy into Ukraine
- Interpol probes Thailand’s ‘Baby Factory’
- Witnesses recount secret July raid to free journalist at ISIS base in Syria
- Ebola spreads in Nigeria; Liberian treatment centers inundated
- 18 accused spies executed by Gaza terrorists
- Pentagon expects ISIS will regroup
- Ukraine: Russian aid convoy is a ‘direct invasion’
- Hamas insists terrorist leader still alive despite Israeli barrage
- Tropical disturbance heads toward Caribbean
- Crisis puts Pakistan army back in game