* Former UK newspaper editor looked after retired police
* Keen horse-rider Rebekah Brooks acted as "foster carer"
* UK inquiry looking into hacking, illegal police payments
By Peter Griffiths
LONDON, Feb 28 One of Rupert Murdoch's
most senior newspaper executives was given a retired police
horse to ride at her country house, police said on Tuesday, one
of the more unusual disclosures in a phone-hacking scandal that
has shaken the British media.
The London force said it had loaned the horse to Rebekah
Brooks -- a Murdoch favourite who ran his UK newspaper arm and
edited two of his bestselling tabloids.
She cared for the animal from 2008 to 2010, the year when
Britain's biggest police force reopened its long-running inquiry
into newspaper phone hacking and concluded there was no new
evidence to pursue.
A keen rider, Brooks is married to a racehorse trainer and
has a house near Prime Minister David Cameron in an upmarket
part of rural Oxfordshire, southern England. She has denied
often-repeated claims that she goes riding with him.
Brooks resigned last July as chief executive of News
International, part of Murdoch's News Corp, after an
outcry over reporters hacking into private phone messages.
The row also led to the resignation of the Metropolitan
Police's boss Paul Stephenson and raised questions about the
close ties between media executives and senior police.
An inquiry into press standards heard on Monday that there
had been a culture of illegal payments to police at the Sun
newspaper, which Brooks edited until 2009.
The Metropolitan Police said it was normal for officers to
try to find a suitable home for their horses when they retire.
"When a police horse reaches the end of its working life,
Mounted Branch officers find it a suitable retirement home," the
Met said in a statement. "In 2008 a retired MPS (Metropolitan
Police Service) horse was loaned to Rebekah Brooks. The horse
was subsequently rehoused with a police officer in 2010."
Brooks' spokesman David Wilson couldn't immediately be
reached. However, he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that
Brooks acted as a sort of "foster carer" for the horse.
"It's just a way of giving a temporary home to a horse that
has had a distinguished service," he said. "It went off to a
retirement paddock in Norfolk once it couldn't be ridden any
The hacking scandal has rocked Murdoch's media empire and
shed light on the often close relationships between newspapers
and senior police, prompting a bout of soul-searching about
Cameron has been forced to defend his judgement after he
hired former Murdoch editor Andy Coulson as his press secretary
after Coulson quit the News of the World following the jailing
of its royal reporter for phone hacking.