Former UK PM Blair offered to advise Murdoch over phone-hacking

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 19, 2014 7:45 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - 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 Iraq War anger, a London court heard on Wednesday.

Rebekah Brooks, the ex-boss of Murdoch's British newspapers, wrote an email 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 furor over phone-hacking allegations at the media moguls' 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 email from Brooks to James Murdoch who at the time ran News Corp. operations in Britain.

He 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 email demonstrates just how close Brooks and Rupert Murdoch were to Britain's establishment, a relationship which critics said allowed him to use his powerful stable of British newspapers to influence politicians for the benefit of his business interests.

Its contents were shown 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.

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)