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Blair 'offered Murdoch hack scandal advice'

London jury read email which suggested the former British PM offered to help News Corp navigate phone-hacking outrage.

Last updated: 19 Feb 2014 20:16
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Rebekah Brooks sent the email to top News Corp bosses, the jury heard [Reuters]

The former chief executive of Ruper Murdoch's British newspapers told top bosses that the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, had offered to act as an adviser over the tycoon's phone-hacking scandal, a court has heard.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Murdoch's British newspapers, wrote an email to the tycoon's son James outlining advice Blair allegedly gave her during an hour-long phone call in July 2011 at the height of phone-hacking allegations against the News of the World newspaper, a jury at London's Old Bailey court heard on Wednesday.

"He is available to you, KRM [Keith Rupert Murdoch] and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us," said the email from Brooks to James Murdoch, who at the time ran News Corp's operations in Britain.

The email was read to the jury in open court at the trial of Brooks.

According to the email, the former prime minister also suggested Murdoch follow the same steps his government took to address anger over Britain's 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The email said Blair suggested the media empire's leaders form an independent unit with outside lawyers to investigate Brooks and others before producing a "Hutton Style" report, a reference to the inquiry where a judge cleared Blair's government of misleading the public over the reasons it gave for the Iraq invasion.

Cover-up

News of the World's phone-hacking scandal started in 2006 and 2007 when then editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted of eavesdropping on messages left for royal aides.

The paper said the two men acted alone. But years later, information surfaced that News of the World had issued settlements of just under $2m to three different people who claimed the paper hacked their phones.

The scandal exploded in 2011 when Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that News of the World had hacked the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Murdoch closed News of the World amidst the Dowler claims and the paper has since settled 144 phone-hacking lawsuits.

Murdoch also admitted in 2012 at the Leveson inquiry, set up to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the press, that News International had attempted to cover up the phone-hacking scandal.

Brooks and six others are currently on trial at London's Old Bailey court.

Blair's representatives were not available for comment, Reuters news agency said.

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Source:
Reuters
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