London: Rebekah Brooks, former editor of News of the World, on Friday claimed that top UK leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, commiserated with her when she was arrested last year in the phone-hacking scandal, underlining the cosy ties between politicians and the press.
Appearing before the Leveson Inquiry on media ethics, 43-year-old Brooks' widely watched deposition provided details of her and News International's relationship with top politicians and the influence they wield.
The details included text messages, e-mails and formal and informal meetings with prime ministers, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
When Brooks, a close aide of media baron Rupert Murdoch, resigned from News International at the height of the phone-hacking row last summer, she said she received text messages of support from Cameron, Blair, Chancellor George Osborne, Home Secretary Theresa May and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Cameron sent her a text, asking her to "keep your head up".
In her written evidence, Brooks, who is currently on bail, detailed the number of meetings she had with prime ministers from 2005 to 2010.
She also gave an account of the decision-making process within News International when The Sun decided to support the Conservative party before the 2010 election.
The tabloid has a history of openly supporting a political party before elections (it supported Labour before the 1997 election, which Labour won).
She said in her written evidence: "I got to know some politicians very well. I think I met first Tony Blair in 1995. The meetings at that time were all about getting to know him and his beliefs since it was fairly clear that New Labour would be elected. Over the succeeding years we met often, particularly during my time as Editor of The Sun".
Brooks added: "Tony Blair, his senior cabinet, advisers and press secretaries were a constant presence in my life for many years".
Giving reasons for switching The Sun's support to the Conservatives before the 2010 polls, Brooks said though it had supported New labour for many years, "a number of issues - Gordon Brown's return to Old Labour and his woeful support for the war in Afghanistan, the size of the bank bailout, the reneging on the promise of a referendum on the European Constitution - meant that, by the spring of 2009, we realised that the paper had run out of things to say in support of Gordon Brown's Government."
She went on: "On so many issues we found were attacking the Government and calling for an election to encourage Gordon Brown to go to the electorate and get his own mandate.”
"It was fairly inevitable that we would end up supporting David Cameron, and we chose to show our support for him the day after Gordon Brown’s Party Conference Speech in September 2009".
Brooks added that by then she had become the CEO of News International, but "I was instrumental in our change of stance" along with other colleagues.
Brooks resigned as chief executive of News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, in July amid public outrage over claims of widespread hacking by staff at its News of the World newspaper.
The government-appointed Leveson Inquiry, set up in response to the accusations of phone hacking by the News of the World, is examining the relationship between Britain's media and politics.
Brooks was editor of News of the World in 2002 when the newspaper hacked the voice mail of a missing schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, who was later found dead.
First Published: Friday, May 11, 2012, 18:24