Former British prime minister Tony Blair offered to act as an unofficial adviser to Rupert Murdoch during his media empire's phone-hacking scandal, suggesting the firm follow steps he took to address anger over the Iraq war, a London court heard yesterday.
Rebekah Brooks, the ex-boss of Murdoch's British newspapers, wrote an e-mail to Murdoch's son, James, detailing advice Blair had given her during an hour-long phone call in July 2011 at the height of a furore over phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World tabloid.
"He [Blair] is available to you, KRM and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us," said the e-mail from Brooks to James Murdoch, who at the time ran News Corp operations in Britain.
Blair also suggested they form an independent unit with outside lawyers to investigate Brooks and others before producing a "Hutton style" report, a reference to an inquiry headed by a judge which cleared Blair's government of misleading the public over the reasons it gave for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The e-mail demonstrates just how close Brooks and Rupert Murdoch were to Britain's elite, a relationship critics said allowed him to use his powerful stable of British newspapers to influence politicians for the benefit of his business interests.
In the e-mail, Brooks said Blair had suggested the company appoint an internal unit which would include "a great and good type" and "proper fact checkers".
"Get them to investigate me and others and publish a hutton style report," she wrote in the e-mail. "Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept shortcomings and new solutions and process. It will pass. Tough up."
The contents of the e-mail were read to the jury at London's Old Bailey court, where Brooks and six others are on trial over phone-hacking and other offences, which she denies.
Less than a week after sending the e-mail, Brooks was arrested and charged with conspiring to hack phones, bribe officials and obstruct a police investigation.
Brooks is expected to give evidence today.