Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks' evidence follows that of Andy Coulson yesterday

Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA

Follow our liveblog below from today's (11 May) Leveson inquiry hearing, where Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive and previously editor of both the Sun and the News of the World, is giving evidence.

The inquiry has finished hearing evidence for the day. Please see below for's stories on Brooks's evidence today.
4:01pm: Brooks says subtle pressures are human nature, but thinks both the press and politicians need to make sure they have their professional life before anything else.

Leveson points out senior journalists get to make many points to senior politicians and are able to offer (hypothetically) something in return. People can be persuaded and it is not always improper. Leveson says the real problem is an efficient amount of transparency.

Brooks says that is correct in terms of commerce and business. But, from a journalist's perspective, you are not seeing a politician for a commercial benefit, "you're trying to get a good story".

Brooks again criticising the "anti BSkyB bid alliance". Leveson points out both were able to use their outlets, Brooks points out NI didn’t use theirs to do this.

"I really do believe that it is the ordinary people's views that make a newspaper powerful" says Brooks, and cites the Daily Mirror's campaign against the war in Iraq. The circulation of the Mirror plummeted because they continued to drive an editorial line against the readership and they reacted swiftly.

On the topic of Sarah's Law, Brooks feels the readers were "incredibly moved" and "responsive" to that campaign.

Rebekah Brooks has finished giving evidence. The inquiry is moving on to other matters, so that is the end of our liveblog.

Brooks: "I do think much has been made of cosy relationships and informal contacts and I believe that if journalists meet politicians, it's going to be incredibly hard for the journalist to be forced to be transparent about that... on the other hand I understand from this government that they have improved their transparency on their part."

Brooks says she has never compromised her role as a journalist and says she has never known a politician to compromise their public life.

"I don’t think any journalist in the room would agree... the story's more important than the truth," says Brooks.

Leveson says he wonders a little about the extent to which the press have intruded beyond the public position into Brooks and Murdoch's private life. Does Brooks have a comment as to the extent to which the press does now get further into issues of privacy?

"I consider myself to be a journalist... it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to complain," answers Brooks.

She adds: “A lot of the questions I had from Mr Jay came from a trivial side. I'm not sure it helps this inquiry whether or not Mr Murdoch bought me a suit or not."

The inquiry now raises the issue of an inaccurate free press.

Jay asks if there are some aspects of the free press which can be criticised because it is sometimes inaccurate.

Brooks says one of the complaints she used to get was about the prominence of apologies when mistakes are made.

Jay points out a lot of the stories told about Brooks have not been true according to her, saying there is an irony there.

Brooks refers to some of the "gossipy" items put to her at the inquiry: "I do feel that that is merely a systematic issue... I think a lot of it is gender-based. If I were a grumpy old man at Fleet Street no one would write a thing about [Brooks' relationship with Rupert Murdoch]."

Jay refers to the situation where a paediatrician was mistakenly targeted as a paedophile in a reprisal as a result of the campaign.

“I don’t think anyone could have predicted the paediatrician situation,” says Brooks.

Jay states once again it was inflammatory to publish photos and names of paedophiles but Brooks counters that this was not the intention.

"There were very serious loopholes that needed to be closed... 98 per cent of the public continued to agree with the campaign probably up to this day," says Brooks.

Brooks does not agree that reprisals were the natural consequence of this campaign.

"I did not predict there was going to be a riot," says Brooks.

Jay suggests it is plain to see this would happen, Brooks again disagrees, saying that of course this could be seen with the benefit of hindsight but it was not their original intention.

"I disagree with you, it is not my opinion and I'm not going to agree with you," Brooks tells Jay.

Leveson states he has no issue with the objectives of the campaign but wonders if Brooks would have re-thought the campaign had she known the public would react as it did.

Brooks: "I do have some regrets about the campaign, particularly the list of convicted paedophiles that we put into the paper.

"I still thought the mechanic that we used was the right thing to do."

Jay moves on to the Sarah's Law campaign.

Brooks argues the NotW published the names and photographs of known sex offenders to protect other children and says it was her decision.

At the time she disagreed that this was "grossly irresponsible journalism". "There's always risk with campaigns," she adds.

Brooks says she was surprised the police team were pretty sure who they thought the perpetrator of Sarah Payne's murder might be because he was a convicted paedophile. "It was news to me that covincted paedophiles... were allowed to live unchecked in the community."

Jay presses for why it was necessary to publish names and photographs. "It was a way of highlighting the central issue of the campaign," says Brooks.

Jay wonders why it was sensationalised as this creates the risk of reprisals. Referring to Megan’s Law in the US, Brooks says she did not anticipate those reprisals.

Jay questionings whether Brooks thinks exposing the private weaknesses of public figures is in the "public good".

Brooks says when it is in the public interest, she thinks it is fine, but certain circumstances do not call for it.

Jay presses for instances where they would not publish stories.

Brooks says Osborne could well have argued the story about him was not in the public interest because it was before his time as an MP.

Following a short break, Jay asks Brooks about press ethics and who has responsibility for what is in the public good.

Brooks says a "huge team" is behind this, rather than "sole responsibility" lying with the editor, but agrees with Jay that, as the PCC states, the "ultimate responsibility" lies with the editor.

Brooks: "Ultimately, everything that is published in the paper is the responsibility of the editor."

"An editor's judgement is a big part of their role," says Brooks with regards to how content affects circulation.

Brooks denies calling Ed Balls with threatening demands relating to the Baby P case, but says she did discuss it with him.

She says the Sun felt there were serious failings.

Jay asks if the paper wanted to get rid of Sharon Shoesmith.

Brooks says they called for the resignation and confirms she discussed Sharon Shoesmith with Balls but the call was about the case generally.

"I didn’t tell Ed Balls to fire Sharon Shoesmith, it was very obvious from the coverage in our paper that we had launched a petition because the government refused to do anything."

"I would have spoken to anybody to get justice for Baby P," says Brooks.

Brooks maintains she did not say “get rid of her or else”, she was asking Balls for “much more subtle information”.

Brooks says the Sun had permission from the Browns to publish the news about their son.

She adds that had the Browns asked her not to run it she would not have done so.

“I spoke to the Browns, probably to people around them. I definitely had more of a communication with Sarah Brown as she was my friend.

She said the information came to the Sun in late October and that the Browns' position at the time was "very much they had the tests confirmed and as PM and his wife felt that there were many people in UK whose children suffered … [they were] were committed to making this public.”

She added there was an "insistance that when the story was published, we highlighted the positives in association with the cystic fibrosis association."

Leveson questions Brooks on the wording of a 2011 article refuting Brown's allegations, which were described as a "smear”.

Brooks responds: "The context of that article" followed two occasions, once in parliament and once she believed on the BBC, when Brown spoke "critically" of the Sun.

"Combining the two attacks from Brown, that had never ever been raised by him in any shape or form, he never once mentioned press ethics or practices ... [this meant] that the Sun felt it was a smear.

"He was doing it 5 years later for particular reasons. I think that's why they wrote the story they did"

She said she was “defending their right to write the story like that".

Jay asks if the father was paid. Brooks says she believes a donation was made to a cystic fibrosis charity.

Brooks says the story was discussed with the browns "way before the sun published it" in November 2006.

"The first time I heard he had concern of that nature was when he gave concern of that nature in 2011," she said.

Jay moves on to discuss the Sun's 2011 article refuting allegations that Brown's medical records were accessed, leading to the 2006 story about his son's cystic fibrosis.

The Sun’s 2011 article said the source was a "shattered dad" whose own son received the same diagnosis.

Brooks confirms the "shattered dad" source is true and she is "sure" this source got the information "from legitimate means".

Jay asks Brooks: "In terms of the nature of hospitality you were offering, [for example] lunches, dinners, did you regard police officers in the same way as politicians?"

Brooks said there were "definite distinctions between the two".

She added senior police officers were "more inclined to want to go to a neutral venue like a restarant" while meetings with politicans often took place in Wapping HQ, party conferences, Downing Street or "various ministries".

Brooks says she remembers having a meeting with former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police John Yates in Wapping "around time of cash for honours situation".

She also attended the Police Bravery Awards up until 2011, adding Yates "was always there".

Jay has asked Brooks if they discussed the issue of phone hacking.

Brooks says there was a Police Bravery Awards event usually in July and that the Guardian broke its story in July 2009.

She adds that she did not want to rule out that she may have mentioned phone hacking to him "but can't remember a sit down conversation where we discussed it at any length".

Jay asks if Brooks was a "go between" for James and Rupert Murdoch.

"No", Brooks responds, "they were very happy to speak to each other".

Jay and Brooks discuss an email submitted to the inquiry. Jay asks why only one email has been submitted.

Brooks responds that from the beginning of June to July 17 when her Blackberry "was imaged" there were certain emails on there and some text messages.

But she says her legal team went through these to "disclose anything that fell into the inquiry" and this was the only email that fell into that period and was relevant to the BSkyB questions being asked.

Jay puts it to Brooks that News Corporation regarded it as important to lobby the government in relation to the BSkyB bid.

Brooks responds that she didn’t see it as a "strategy" and adds "I think it was a response."

"From what we've seen from Michel’s emails there was a lot of lobbying going on from our side, yes," she adds.

Brooks: "Maybe it was naive of me to think the procedure would be dealt with properly. [I had] no reason not to until Cable’s comments came out in the December."

2:18pm: Jay asks Brooks about a dinner with George Osborne.

Brooks says her main involvement in the BSkyB bid "was informal" and adds she does not remember "a detailed conversation at a social dinner about the complexities" of an Ofcom letter.

Brooks speaks more about Michel and the BSkyB bid.

"Like most journalists I viewed public affairs and lobbyists with slight scepticism.

"I often thought Michel perhap over-egged his position. However he was doing his job, passing on information as lobbyists do.

Brooks noted "I thought the level of access that seemed to come out was pretty good really."

2:13pm: Jay moves on to News Corp's bid for BSkyB and asks Brooks if Cameron was supportive of the bid.

Brooks says "not particularly, no" but that he "understood why we wanted to present our view".

Brooks is asked if she is aware of Fred Michel's role as intermediary between News Corp and the Culture Secretary in the bid process. Brooks says she "was aware at time but not to the extent I've now seen, but I was aware, yes".

Back after lunch.

Jay asks Brooks if she used the Sun as an "unfair means of disparaging politicians you didn't like”.

Brooks: “No, I don't think that.”

A conversation with the then shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve discussing the Human Rights Act is referred to. Brooks says dinner conversation was "quite heated" as Grieve stood up to his colleagues. She says she admired him for that.

Brooks says Grieve was moved from his position but she did not tell Cameron to do that. “His colleagues were almost trying to silence him,” says Brooks.

Brooks points out Cameron was not at that dinner.

Leveson asks if Brooks can understand that it might be a matter of public concern if politicians and press are close. Brooks says she can.

Leveson calls a break for lunch.

Leveson asks if Brooks was part of a strategy involving the paper putting pressure on the government with this kind of implied or expressed threat.

Brooks: "I was certainly part of a strategy to launch the campaign... but I think the word threat is too strong." She says "persuasion" would be a better description.

Brooks says the McCanns were "deeply upset" that there was not going to be a review. She says the Sun said they would join forces with them to help, to try to convince the government that a review would be the right thing to do.

Brooks says she believes the campaign was the right thing to do and that the home secretary believes it was a good idea too. She says it was a very short campaign.

Jay says the government "yielded to pressure". Brook retorts that they may have agreed with the Sun's argument.

Jay notes the campaign chimed with the commercial interests of the Sun. Brooks acknowledges the campaign can help circulation but says the serialisation probably did this more effectively.

Brooks says the Sun launched the campaign for a review of the McCann case with a letter to Downing Street. She says there was no threat to the Secretary of State.

Brooks: "My involvement was to discuss the campaign... and to do the deal with the book"

Brooks says she left it to both editors to execute the campaign.  She says it is not true that she threatened the Prime Minister that Theresa May would be put on the front page every day until their demands were met. Brooks denies she intervened with Cameron.

"I did not say to th
e Prime Minister that I would put Theresa May on the front page until our demands are met... I didn't say that."

Jay asks about the McCann serialisation as an example and refersto Dr McCann's evidence with regards to the serialisation of the books.

Brooks says the book was being serialised in both the Sun and the Times, but cannot remember how much was paid, possibly half a million.

She says she was involved as chief executive because it involved two papers, then left it to the two editors to decide the approach.

Brooks says she had always got on well with the McCanns and thinks they would be very positive about the Sun.

Brooks says she saw her role as editor in terms of responsibility rather than power.

Jay asks if she ever sensed that politicians may have been afraid of her.

Brooks repeats her earlier statement that MPs are not "easily scared".

Brooks confirms she was close to Murdoch and was trusted by him. She says she thinks a lot of politicians wanted to "put their case" to Murdoch, but she is not sure if this was about furthering their interests.

Brooks says she does not think it is true that to get close to Murdoch, they had to be close to Brooks. She says she had no influence over Murdoch.

Brooks: "I do believe that, like other editors, politicians wanted to get access to the editor of the Sun and his or her team as much as possible... I don't think people ever thought that they had to get close to me to get to Mr Murdoch."

Jay asks if she ever wondered why politicians were getting close to her.

Brooks says she thought it was pretty obvious they wanted to get close to her because she was a senior journalist. "It didn’t need a lot of thinking that politicians wanted to get close to journalists... it’s been the case for decades."

Brooks repeats that politicians were keen to put their case to her and her team at the Sun because of the Sun's readership.

She says some friendships did occur but adds: "I don't think I ever forgot I was a journalist and I don't think they ever forgot they were a politician."

Brooks says Tony Blair had discussed his feelings that the Daily Mail was hostile to him and his wife on occasion, but says Cherie Blair probably discussed it more with him.

Brooks: "I think 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."

Brooks says Cherie Blair sometimes felt coverage was "cruel and personal" about her weight and image. Brooks says this less about ethics and more about tone.

Jay asks Brooks about Tony Blair's comment that the press were "feral beasts".

Brooks thought this was more to do with 24-hour news and the need for constant coverage.

Jay thinks the comment was also to do with how the press behaved, but Brooks answers that Blair never told her of these concerns.

Brooks says politicians occasionally complained of their coverage in the Sun, "if someone felt it was unfair”. She says that on occasion Blair would complain about the Sun's attitude to Europe and him in general. She says many home secretaries would complain about coverage.

Brooks thinks this was correct because the paper's role was to hold politicians to account.

Jay moves on to the subject of general conversations with politicians.

Brooks says the conversations normally revolved around the issues of the day with infrequent conversations about press regulation. The BBC did not often come up in conversation.

Brooks cannot remember a conversation with a politician about the PCC. She acknowledges it probably was not discussed "enough”.

Brooks says press ethics particularly came up with Jack Straw. The data protection act had been discussed at great length. “I probably only got involved with that late on."

Jay asks about the October 2010 dinner at Chequers with Cameron. He wants to know if the bid raised on that occasion. Brooks says no and that it was his birthday party.

Brooks says that in December 2010 it was mentioned and James Murdoch's testimony backs this up. However, she says it was not widely discussed and was merely mentioned because of the news Vince Cable had resigned from his role.

Brooks says they hoped Cable's replacement, Jeremy Hunt, would make it a "fair and democratic" process, saying it was "disappointing" to hear of Cable’s bias. She says she hoped the decision would be "fair" rather than "favourable".

Brooks says she did not know Hunt very well. She thinks he had posted something on his website saying he was quite favourable towards the bid before he was given the role.

Brooks is asked when she heard the codename "Rubicon", the name given to BSkyB bid by News Corp.

Brooks says she does not know who chose the name. She does not believe anyone in government knew about the name and never heard anyone acknowledge it.

Leveson asks if Brooks had any informal role in the BSkyB bid, noting she is "very well-connected" with politicians.

Brooks says the formation of the "anti-Sky bid alliance" brought NI into what was a News Corp transaction. She did get involved when they began promoting their view, but not with the deal or the strategy.

Leveson is concerned with how the bid was presented through these relationships.

"I think in some circumstances that may be true but in this one it was a quas-judicial decision and I don't think my input was of relevance," says Brooks. Because of the nature of the decision, Brooks did not see her opinion was relevant especially because of the dissenting voices against the bid.

Brooks was made aware of the BSkyB bid before the public announcement and before the general election. Jay notes it was a big moment for News Corporation and that Brooks was CEO of News International, and recognises the difference between NI and News Corporation.

Brooks: "I played no formal role in the BSkyB transaction... I was made aware that it was on the cards, so to speak... maybe 6 weeks, a couple of months beforehand."

Brooks denies the bid would have made an impact on News International. "The way it was presented to me, I didn’t think it would have an effect on News International."

Jay notes that the inquiry is in the dark about what these conversations were about.

Brooks says they were very general – 2010's conversation was somewhat more detailed, others were general.

Jay asks about the role of Elizabeth Freud in their relationship. Brooks been friends with her for more than 20 years.

Brooks said she had never been at Cameron's country home with other politicians. She says Osborne may have been at one meeting at Brooks's country home, and there were politicians at the 40th party at Freud's home.

Brooks says the phone hacking story was a "constant" so it did come up in conversation. She says a more specific conversation may have happened in 2010.

She says nothing was said that Cameron would not have said publicly regarding the amount of civil cases coming through in 2010.

Jay asks if Cameron expressed concerns that it went beyond Goodman and Mulcaire? Probably, yes, says Brooks.

Jay says the rise in civil cases indicates it was more widespread.

"News International has acknowledged that, yes," says Brooks.

Brooks says nothing secret was discussed, just a general update of the story.

Jay says he’s concerned at what Cameron said about the issue. Brooks says Cameron had asked her about it.

Jay asks if Cameron's hiring of Andy Coulson was discussed.

Brooks says no and that there were no instances of this.

Brooks says that to say Cameron and her were "often popping round" would be overstating the case.

She says Cameron and Brooks occasionally met in the country because that is where his constituency was.

Jay asks if it is true there was a meeting at a point-to-point, before which they texted each other to make sure they were not seen together.

Brooks confirms they both attended. Jay repeats his question as to whether they’d texted each other beforehand.

Brooks says she did not meet with Cameron, but he did meet with her husband.

Brooks also attended Cameron's private birthday party in 2010.

Jay asks if they had any communication about the Guardian's Milly Dowler story in 2011.

Brooks says they had no direct contact after that story.

Brooks comments on the pre-election debates: "I think like everybody I thought the first one wasn't very good." She didn't text Brown or Clegg.

Jay asks how Cameron's texts were signed off.

Leveson asks why Jay is asking this - Jay replies that if he didn't ask people would ask him why not. Jay allows the question.

"He would sign them off DC in the main," says Brooks. She adds he would occasionally sign them LOL, believing it meant "lots of love", until Brooks told him it meant "laugh out loud".

Brooks says the texts were to do with organisation, meeting up or arranging to speak. Occasionally there would be a personal comment.

Jay asks how often Cameron and Brooks met socially.

Brooks: "I did meet with him between January 2010 and the election... I think we will have met about... three or four times."

Jay now asks about Cameron and states there are an absence of text messages between him and Brooks in the evidence.

Brooks says it is not true that Cameron texted Brooks "a dozen" or "a handful" of times a day. She calls the claims "preposterous". "One would hope that he had better things to do," says Brooks.

They texted each other more between January 2010 and during the election campaign, but on average, once a week, perhaps twice a week.

Jay attempts to explore Brooks's thinking in 2010. He points out Brown was hostile while Cameron was not, and asked how this weighed in her thinking.

Jay: "It's something you should be thinking about, wouldn't you agree?"

Brooks says if you accept the premise that Brown is a responsible politician, then these threats should be dismissed. She says it is not about personal prejudice.

Brooks: "It didn't occur to me at the time that Mr Brown and his colleagues would devote their time to carrying out those threats."

The tone of conversation between Murdoch and Brown is described as "incredibly aggressive and very angry". Brooks says she is not surprised to hear of it.

Brooks denies that she thought Brown would be able to go against the commercial interests of the company if he were to win the election. She claims she held no concern in the run-up to the election, despite the things Brown had said to Murdoch.

Brooks: "It just didn't occur to me that they were real or proper, I just dismissed them I suppose."

Brooks: "Privacy is a hugely debated topic in every news room."

She disputes that the Sun's newsroom culture revolved around invasion of privacy.

Brooks: "I don’t think it’s fair to say politicians live in fear of newspapers... MPs don’t scare easily."

Brooks believes the power of a newspaper is in its readership.

Brooks says it is not an individual editor that has the power, "it is the paper".

In extreme circumstances over the years, numbers of people can show their opinion by not buying the newspaper, according to Brooks. With regards to the Brown story, the readers felt that at least he had written to the family.

Jay mentions Hillsborough as an example of the Sun's readership perceiving it to have gone too far. Brooks mentions Princess Diana's death as another such occasion.

Brooks says she did speak Brown, she remembers it clearly because the Sun had splashed on a letter he had written to a bereaved mother whose son had died in Afghanistan, in which Brown had made mistakes. The Sun had been particularly harsh in it's criticism of this.

Brown rang Brooks. Brooks says it was a private conversation, but the tone of it was "very aggressive".

She says he was "quite rightly” hurt by the tone of the article.

Brooks says Brown thought that article may be indicative of how the Sun was going to behave and that the headline was too harsh.

At this point Brooks was no longer the editor, but she said she had discussed the headline at length with Mohan.

Brooks says she thought it would be wrong for the Sun to personally attack politicians. She Believes it iss not what the paper does and that this was something that did not happen all the time.

Brooks concedes Neil Kinnock may feel the paper is prone to personal attacks, but that in the main "the Sun concentrated on the issues and the policy and the campaigns rather than attacking for the sake of it."

Jay asks if the Sun's method of holding the powerful to account was through intruding into their personal life. Brooks says this is not the paper's policy.

Jay asks: "Did you have any conversations with Brown on or after 30 Sept 2009?"

Brooks says she did have a conversation with Brown, in October, a few weeks after rather than that night or that week.

Brooks: "It was clear nothing more to say at that point."

Jay asks why, to which Brooks responds: "I don’t think he wanted to talk to me."

Jay asks whether Brooks feels her and the others involved in switching the Sun's support were exercising considerable power.

Brooks says her and the other "journalists" involved "were all of a mind this was the right thing to do for the paper and for our readership. I didn't see it in those terms. I'm sorry."

Jay continues, asking whether she does not see the "dissemination of power from within a few people."

She says she can see how it could be phrased like that but adds:

"From our own perspective the Sun newspaper has in its history always done quite dramatic endorsements, like the paper, its strong ,its punchy, it tells it as it is."

Brooks is asked about the importance of the decision to switch support.

Brooks starts to discuss the importance of its decision in 1997 "after many years of Tory support" to switch to Labour. Jay interrupts and asks her to keep to his question.

Brooks responds, adopting Jay's wording, that "ancient history" was "quite important".

Brooks: "It was a very important decision and we did give it consideration after many years of Labour support."

Brooks is speaking about the timing of the announcement. She tells the inquiry it was considered that it would have been "terribly unfair" to have said it "at the start of a party conference" and "before hearing what Brown and senior cabinet ministers had to say".

They "could have come up with fantastic policy for Sun readers", she adds, saying it would have been "unfair for us to go before".

Brooks is asked about a dinner in September 2009. She is asked if there was ever any discussion as to the timing of the Sun’s change in support.

Brooks: "No, we didn't tell anyone the timing."

Jay asks if Cameron knew at any stage. Brooks says he probably knew from the drink with James Murdoch referred to earlier that it would happen, but wouldn't have known about the timing.

Brooks says she was "instrumental" in this matter rather than the "driving force".

She adds it was "collective in terms of everyones view, particularly the readership, we were going to distance ourselves from Labour party".

In terms of who knew about timing, Brooks says it was a "small group" involved.

Brooks talks about "floating voters". She says she thinks in the Sun floating voters are "quite important" and they would do internal polls and research as to where readers' views were changing.

She contrasts this with the Mirror, which she believes to be Labour-leaning both in terms of readership and editorial staff. Leveson brings things back on track.

Jay asks if any part of discussion was about who was likely to win next election.

Brooks thinks "back in June" the main discussion was "more we had lost things to support Brown’s government on"

Brooks adds "the main point … was the fact we probably hadn't written one editorial in support of the Labour government for some time". She says it "wasn't as clear cut" as Jay's question.

Cameron and Rupert Murdoch's meeting in Santorini is singled out for discussion. Brooks has no record of it, but recalls the meeting with Cameron and the Murdochs.

She is unsure whose idea it was, and suggests it was possibly borne out of the fact Murdoch was in Europe that summer, but the meeting was organised through Number 10 and Murdoch’s office.

Brooks was not consulted with regards to these arrangements.

Brooks says she met Cameron that day when he was in Greece. She thinks he stayed for an afternoon and an evening.

Brooks witnessed one of the conversations between Murdoch and Cameron regarding Europe, but there were other conversations when she was absent. It was not a formal conversation, and she just happened to be there when they were talking about Europe.

Jay asks if Brooks was pleased about the meeting. Brooks says it went well.

Brooks says she was quite friendly with Cameron, who attended a New Year's Eve Party in 2008 at her sister's home. There was a family connection already there before Brooks and Cameron became friends.

Evidence resumes.

Jay suggests the Sun supported Liam Fox in the Conservative Party leadership contest.

Brooks says she doesn't remember if the Sun had a particular line as to the leadership of the party.

Jay asks how Brooks responded to the news that Coulson was to be director of communications for the Conservatives. Brooks says she probably said well done. Jay says this is what she said, but he wants to know how she actually felt about it. "As a friend I was probably pleased for him" says Brooks.

Brooks says she's not really surprised the Conservatives wanted to hire Coulson, as there is a long history of journalists going into politics.

Cameron was told by James Murdoch in September 2009 during drinks at a pub that the Sun would be supporting the Conservatives. Brooks said she probably knew about it in June.

Leveson calls a break.

Rebekah Brooks at the Leveson inquiry
Brooks giving evidence at the inquiry this morning

Leveson questions Brooks regarding what she did to discover the views of the Sun’s readers, other than those who communicated with the paper directly.

Brooks says they ran polls and petitions regarding their views on the European Consititution. Regarding Afghanistan, through their Help for Heroes campaign, the Sun is seen as a pro-armed forces paper.

Brooks: "I think every editor uses his or her own judgement in putting together the paper in what campaigns we follow and hopefully we get it right.

"It’s an instinct... but we have a particular close interaction with Sun readers."

She says it was almost a sackable offence to be rude to a reader, and that the Sun had a very close relationship with their readership.

Brooks says there was no discussion of particular policy with Labour, but leading up to the 2005 general election there was public debate on the European constitution, with the Sun and other papers campaigning for a referendum, so there would have been discussion relating to this.

Jay asks about a story on Blair continuing his leadership of the Labour party in 2005, and asks Brooks if she planted the story in the Sun on Blair's behalf. "I don't think I could tell you that at all," says Brooks, and attributes the story to Kavanagh.

She says they got the story following an alleged agreement with Brown which said Blair would step down for 2005's election.

Brooks says contact with Labour was very limited after the Sun switched its support to the Conservatives.

Brooks remembers at least one occasion going to Downing Street after this. She says she still saw Brown despite having fallen out with the Labour party.

Jay addresses the support of the newspaper for Labour - was this the subject of discussion with Blair and his advisors? Brooks says not until 2005, a very difficult time for the Labour party.

Brooks says the Sun at the time of her editorship was very even-handed during that election.

Brooks: "I'm not sure we particularly had a conversation with the Labour party about support."

Brooks says they left it right to the day, when they set up a "Vatican-style chimney" on the roof of Wapping and whatever colour smoke came out would indicate who they were supporting.

Brooks attributes the Sun's scoops to the likes of Trevor Kavanagh, saying not many of them were fed to them. "Trevor and I had some good sources," she says.

Jay asks about who would have attended dinners and lunches with politicians.

From memory, Brooks says she had about three dinners with Blair by herself in that period of time. Blair went to the home of Matthew Freud and Elizabeth Murdoch very few times.

Jay calls Tony Blair and Labour "masters of spin". Brooks says she believes Brown's team deserve this label more. Jay asks what steps she took to counteract this?

Brooks says she does not believe any journalist repeats a politician's line verbatim without checking it thoroughly.

Speaking about the split between Brown and Blair, she says she didn't take either politician's side and was on the side of the readers.

Brooks: "It was our job to judge and analyse [the lines from politicians]"

She calls Sarah Brown an "amazing lady", but was more friendly with Blair than Brown, but not so much by the end. Brooks says she would see Brown quite regularly too.

Brooks says whether she took sides depended on the issue. Where the “curryhouse coup” was concerned, she took Blair’s side, but is reluctant to agree she took his side in most things.

"It wasn't a playground spat, they were the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer," says Brooks.  She says it was analysed by the press in a “just and proper way”.

Brooks denies she was reacting to politicians' interests and says instead she was focused on the interest of the readers.

Brooks: "I think the point of New Labour... embracing the media in a different way was because they felt they had a very big story to tell about the changes they wanted to make or had made to the party.

"Access to politicians who can tell us things we don’t know... all those things that we can report back to our readers, that’s a journalist’s job."

Brooks denies a constant presence means they can’t hold politicians to account.

Brooks believes if a politician puts their relationship with the press before their responsibilities, that is their failing, and vice versa for journalists.

Jay asks if Brooks was embarassed by Murdoch's "this one" comment, implying Brooks was his priority. Brooks says at the time she was not as she thought Murdoch was referring to the whole issue, rather than her specifically. However, when she saw how it was interpreted in the papers the next day, she did feel embarassed.

It is established that Brooks had contact with Blair, especially when she became editor of the Sun, "but I think that's the case with most politicians". Brooks says contact with politicians generally increased when she became editor of the Sun.

Brooks agrees she became friendly with Blair. She says he did not have a mobile phone or use a computer for his prime-ministerial duties, so contact was primarily on a landline.

Brooks says Blair's secretaries were a "constant presence" in her life at that time. She refers to Campbell's appointment as director of communications, making a change, "trying to get as much access to the press as possible".

Brooks says when she was editor of the Sun Murdoch would speak to her "very frequently".

She says they sometimes spoke every day, sometimes less than that.

Brooks rebuffs the rumour Murdoch and she used to swim together in London, as well as stories regarding keeping Murdoch waiting for a meeting among other things.

Brooks says Murdoch held a surprise party for her 40th birthday, at which Tony Blair was in attendance. She doesn't recall whether Cameron was there.

Brooks dodges Leveson's question about whether newspapers can lead opinion, saying papers can "present" these issues and show a specific perspective.

Murdoch's contact with the NotW was much more limited than with the Sun.

Jay points out that Brooks has said the Sun reflects what the nation is thinking about, rather than Murdoch.

Brooks stands by her statement, referring to the circulation of the Sun with a "huge readership".

"I think I'm basing it on such a large percentage of the British population who would come in contact with the Sun."

Refers to how influential broadcast media has become with the losses in print circulation.

Brooks thinks it is a myth that editors and proprietors are "unelected forces". She sees them as journalists.

Leveson points out newspaper editors and proprietors have a "voice and a megaphone".

Brooks says she understands what he is getting at, but maintains readers are their power.

"At the Sun, the readers are the most powerful, it is their voice... their interests we try to engage in."

"Every day, the readers can unelect us as newspapers," says Brooks.

Brooks says she was told by Les Hinton she was going to be made editor of NotW, and didn't speak to Murdoch until after she had taken the job.

Brooks makes clear the views in the sun were those of "the readers" reflected in the Sun, rather than those of the paper's management.

She says Murdoch was not being totally literal when saying his political beliefs were reflected in the Sun's editorials.

However, she accepts that where the "big points" are concerned, the Sun probably did reflect his opinions.

Jay questions Brooks on Rupert Murdoch's evidence on his role as proprietor. Brooks agrees he was a "traditional proprietor".

Brooks believes Rupert Murdoch was more interested in the Sun than NotW regarding political issues.

Before her appointment as editor of the Sun, they knew each other "pretty well".

Brooks says her Eurosceptic views were clear to Murdoch, and she held similar political positions to him in "some areas".

Any disagreements were in the "margins" of things rather than "the principles".

Brooks gives examples such as the amount of celebrity news in the paper, columnists and design. She says: "we had a lot of disagreements" but on the big issues, they had similar views.

Brooks prefers more celebrity issues because the readers are quite interested in them, citing the popularity of reality TV programmes. Murdoch disagrees and would prefer more traditional news, but liked the X Factor.

Jay questions Brooks on the "keep your head up”" text from Cameron as reported in the Times.

Brooks confirms she received a text along those lines, but maintains it was an “indirect” message.

When questioned on how these sort of messages reach the public, Brooks says this is due to "Journalists doing their job".

Jay discusses the logistics of Brooks's access to her emails from when she was working at News International.

Brooks says there was nothing of relevance in her private account. Any text message contact would have been on her work Blackberry.

Jay asks if there were any emails or texts from David Cameron or George Osborne on her Blackberry. There was one from Cameron that was compressed from June 2011, so unreadable.

Brooks says, regarding messages of commiseration from politicians upon her leaving News International (NI): “I had some indirect messages from politicians, but nothing direct.”

She says she received messages from some Tories and "very few" Labour politicians.

Jay presses for her to be more specific. Brooks says she received messages from numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and people who worked in those offices.

Tony Blair sent her a message of commiseration, but not Gordon Brown, who Brooks says she expected "got out the bunting".

Rebekah Brooks takes the stand and is sworn in.

Robert Jay QC kicks off by summarising Brooks's career.

Jay says Brooks is being investigated under Operations Elveden and Weeting, and is the subject of allegations of perverting the course of justice, so no questions will be asked on those matters.

Leveson commends Brooks for the "obvious care" she has put into her statements.

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