Many people will have felt a sense of relief when it was announced that Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World (NoTW) and chief executive of News International, is to face charges of perverting the course of justice. Brooks was arrested in July following one of the three police investigations connected to phone hacking.
But the buck doesn’t stop with Brooks. Her testimony at the Leveson Inquiry drags both David Cameron and George Osborne into the political storm as the links between Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the Tory party are found to extend into the heart of government. Brooks was questioned for five hours about her relationship with Cameron and senior Tory and New Labour politicians.
Brooks is known to be a family friend of Cameron, to the extent that when she was fired from her position at News International the Prime Minister sent her text messages of support, bemoaning that he could not show public loyalty towards her. How many workers got this treatment when their jobs were cut?
Brooks’ testimony made it clear that she has been in regular contact with Cameron throughout his time as Tory leader. She also claimed to have been instrumental in the decision to switch the political support of The Sun from New Labour to the Tories just before the 2010 general election.
Osborne has also been put under increased pressure after it emerged that both Brooks and Andy Coulson were invited to the chancellor’s official residence while News International executives were drawing up proposals for the takeover of BSkyB.
At the time Coulson was serving as Cameron’s director of communications following his sacking from the NoTW in 2007 over phone hacking.
Tory culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is already preparing to appear before the Inquiry to face accusations that he acted as a cheerleader for Murdoch’s bid while he was supposed to be impartially presiding over the takeover process.
If Osborne is also forced to appear he can expect to be questioned on Brooks’ claim that she was tipped off during her visit to his residence that Hunt would make “extremely helpful” statements during the bid process.
The phone hacking scandal has so fully exposed the corruption within the coalition that it is amazing so few members of it have been forced to resign. If the Labour Party was an opposition worthy of the name, the government could be on its way out.