LONDON, March 12 Former British Prime Minister
Tony Blair offered to help Rebekah Brooks ahead of her
high-profile appearance in front of a parliamentary committee as
the phone hacking scandal erupted in 2011, a court heard on
Brooks, the former chief executive of News Corp.'s
British arm News International, was called to appear before the
committee on the same day as Rupert Murdoch and his son James
appeared to answer questions over the scandal that was then
shaking Murdoch's company.
Brooks was being vilified at the time in the rest of the
British media after the closure of the News of the World tabloid
in the face of public revulsion at the scale of phone hacking.
Facing questions on the stand of her hacking trial for the
13th day, Brooks was read emails that she had exchanged with
Blair showing the former Labour leader offering to help her
prepare for the committee hearing in the House of Commons.
Blair had told her: "actually I may be of some help in the
"Definitely," prosecutor Andrew Edis said Brooks had
replied. "Properly terrified. Police are behaving so badly."
According to the email, Blair, prime minister between 1997
and 2007, told Brooks that everyone panics in these kind of
situations and that she should call him when her meeting with
police had finished on the Sunday.
Brooks had been due to be interviewed by police on July 17,
2011, but she had in fact been arrested at that meeting and it
was not made clear in court whether she later spoke to Blair
ahead of her hearing.
The court heard that former Labour minister Lord Mandelson
had also been lined up to help Brooks prepare for the Commons
Brooks, the ex-editor of two of Murdoch's titles, is on
trial accused of conspiracy to hack phones, authorising illegal
payments to public officials and conspiracy to pervert the
course of justice. She denies all charges.
She was summoned to appear before parliament in July 2011 as
the scandal rattled both Murdoch's firm and the wider British
establishment. The lengthy hearing was broadcast live on
television and was one of the biggest news stories of that year.
Rupert Murdoch described the hearing as the most humble day
of his life, shortly before he was hit in the face with a foam
pie by a protester.
The jury sitting at the Old Bailey in the hacking trial has
already heard how Blair offered to act as an unofficial adviser
to Rupert Murdoch over the scandal, suggesting the firm follow
the same steps he took to address public anger over the Iraq