"Sorry I couldn’t have been as loyal to you as you have been to me, but Ed Miliband had me on the run," David Cameron said to Rebekah Brooks, after she was forced to quit as News International chief executive in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
Days earlier Ed Miliband had capitalised on public anger at the revelations by calling for a full independent inquiry into the press.
Not wanting to get left behind, the prime minister set up the Leveson inquiry into press ethics to demonstrate how seriously he took the situation. A decision that he probably now regrets.
Scrambling to contain the fallout Rupert Murdoch shocked Westminster and Fleet Street with his decision to shut down the News of the World.
Having failed to prevent the backlash, Murdoch now appears to be abandoning ship, telling Fox News in the US that he no longer has any interest in investing more money in the UK.
But trapped back in London the biggest loser of the inquiry has arguably been not Murdoch and the rest of the press, but Cameron himself.
Sir Christopher Meyer, the former chair of the Press Complaints Commission and John Major's press secretary during his years in No.10, says the decision was taken for "short-term tactical reasons to deflect pressure to do something about press misbehaviour."
"No thought seems to have been given to the longer term political dangers and embarrassment from giving Leveson such an unnecessarily wide brief," he tells The Huffington Post.
He adds: "Cameron, I am told, wishes now that he had never set up Leveson."
The Labour Party had questions to answer about its courting of Murdoch, but Miliband is not prime minister.
As Lord Justice Leveson and his leading QC Robert Jay trawled through News Corp's apparently cosy relationship with politicians, it was the Tory hierarchy that was left squirming.
The prime minister's "lots of love" LOL texts to Brooks and her "yes we Cam" reassurance that The Sun was "so rooting" for him "because professionally we're definitely in this together" were a farcical and hugely embarrassing window into how friendly the two had been.
And the less said (from No.10's perspective) about that horse, the better.
The grilling of Andy Coulson, the former editor of NotW and Cameron's former communications director also served as a public reminder of how close the scandal came to the heart of government.
Leveson's wide-ranging remit also saw his inquiry morph quickly from an investigation into the general culture of the press's ethics and phone hacking into a examination of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's handling of News Corp's ultimately failed bid to take over BSkyB.
The chummy text messages between News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel and Hunt including “Merci, large drink tonight” only served to re-enforce the image, if not the fact, of a conspiracy between Murdoch and the government.
The spectacle of Hunt having to deny he deliberately hid behind a tree from journalists in order to avoid being seen attending a drinks reception with James Murdoch did not help matters - the presence of a tree, was, he assured the courtroom, a coincidence.
Meyer argues that Cameron should instead have invited the Metropolitan Police to re-open their investigation into phonehacking, and to do so with officers whose primary function was not, as with Yates of the Yard, anti-terrorism.
"Any further investigation should have been given to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport," he says.
"Select Committees have their limitations – partisanship, grandstanding, uneven quality, too incestuous a relationship with journalists – but judges should be used for what they are good at – the law.
"They have no uniquely useful insights into matters of ethics or politics. Leveson’s excursion into these areas has turned an inquiry into an endlessly discursive, though not uninteresting, seminar that trapped Cameron in its headlights."
Ed Miliband's call for a public inquiry was arguably a brave move given Labour's assiduous courting of the Murdoch press during its time in power.
A move he has attempted to replicate by calling for a similar inquiry into the banking sector in the wake of revelations about rate-fixing at Barclays - a scandal that developed on Labour's watch.
However David Cameron's resistance to setting up another judge-led inquiry in favour of a shorter, narrower, parliamentary inquiry may be informed by his painful experience at the hands of Lord Justice Leveson and Robert Jay QC.
Meyer remarks: "He must fear that a judge-led inquiry into banking would have similarly embarrassing unintended consequences."
While the prime minister may have learned from his own experiences, Meyer argues that Cameron's mistake was not to learn from the experience of the last Conservative who occupied No.10.
"John Major, under intolerable strain from accusations of sleaze, set up in 1994 the Nolan Committee on standards in public life, from which a code of conduct eventually emerged," he recalls.
"But the creation of the Committee, far from being the get-out-of-jail-free card Major had hoped for, simply compounded his political weakness because many of his backbenchers did not like it.
"He was also confronted with the dilemma, which will soon confront Cameron, whether to accept the recommendations of an inquiry which he himself had established."
And while the prime minister managed to emerge from his own grilling at the hands of Jay, the problems are far from over.
"Cameron will be further embarrassed if he declines to accept any major part of Leveson’s recommendations," Meyer concludes.
Christopher Meyer's new documentary series, Networks of Power, starts on 10 July at 9pm on Sky Atlantic HD and runs for 6 episodes.
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- The Scandal That Brought Down A Paper - Who Were The Main Players?
- The Phone Hacking Scandal In Numbers
- How Leveson Backfired On David Cameron
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