UK

Tony Blair 'Offered Help To Rebekah Brooks And Murdochs' Phone Hacking Trial Hears

19/02/2014 13:03 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 15:59 GMT
Fiona Hanson/PA Archive
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair speaks to Rebekah Wade, Editor of the Sun, during the Newspaper Press Fund 40th anniversary reception in central London.

Tony Blair secretly offered to help Rebekah Brooks and the Murdochs at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, a court has heard.

The former prime minister allegedly offered to be an "unofficial adviser" in July 2011, according to an email shown to the hacking trial at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

It was sent by Brooks to James Murdoch on July 11 2011, just days before she was arrested by police.

She told Murdoch he had advised:

1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact-checkers, etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton-style report.

2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept your shortcomings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.

3. Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches.

4. It will pass. Tough up.

5. He is available for you (James Murdoch), KRM (Rupert Murdoch) and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us.

Earlier in the email chain, Brooks referred to the possible sale of the News of the World, to which Murdoch replied: "What are you doing on email?"

Outlining Blair's advice, she said he had suggested a report, similar to the Hutton review that followed the death of David Kelly, carried out by "a great and good type", and advised on when it should be published.

The former prime minister, who also allegedly advised taking sleeping pills, had an hour-long conversation with Brooks in July 2011 - the contents of which the editor sent to boss James Murdoch in an email, the hacking trial was told.

According to Brooks, Blair advised "no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches".

Instead, the former News of the World (NotW) and Sun editor said he suggested an independent inquiry which would report back and clear their names in due course.

Blair also allegedly advocated sleeping pills for "clear heads" and told Brooks: "It will pass. Tough up."