Two former Scotland Yard chiefs had their children do internships at Rupert Murdoch's newspaper company, one of them testified Wednesday, revealing yet another link between senior members of the country's largest police force with its scandal-scarred press.
Former Commissioner Ian Blair said that his teen age son and that of his predecessor, Paul Condon, had both gained "work experience" at Rupert Murdoch's News International, which used to publish the News of the World tabloid.
"It was a perfectly normal process," Blair said, recalling that he thought at the time it was "the kind of thing that would excite most 15-year-olds."
The nature of the work experience wasn't made clear, but in Britain the phrase is generally used to mean brief, unpaid internships _ typically a few days or a couple of weeks.
The revelation was yet another reminder of the cozy ties enjoyed by senior Scotland Yard officials and senior members of the press _ particularly the Murdoch press. It's a relationship which critics say blinded police to the systematic wrongdoing at the News of the World , whose reporters spent years illegally eavesdropping on figures in the public eye.
A judge-led inquiry into media ethics has already heard evidence that Scotland Yard's most senior officers routinely wined and dined with News of the World journalists who have since been snared by the revived police investigation into phone hacking at the now-defunct title.
Particular scrutiny was focused on former Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who had a close friendship with the paper's ex-editor Neil Wallis and shared drinks with the paper's ex-crime reporter, Lucy Panton.
Yates played a key role in rebuffing calls for an investigation into phone hacking back in 2009, something Blair said had been a mistake.
"I don't quite understand why John took that decision with the speed that he did," Blair said, suggesting that the officer should have had someone else make the decision due to his friendship with Wallis, who has since been arrested as part of the investigation.
Perhaps most symbolic was Scotland Yard's decision to lend former News International chief Rebekah Brooks a retired police horse _ an animal whose distinguished riders included Prime Minister David Cameron.
The loan became an irresistible symbol of the privileged relationship Murdoch's press enjoyed both with the police and British politicians. Blair said it was possible he first suggested the idea of loaning a police horse to Brooks over lunch.
Brooks has since been arrested as well, one of dozens across the British establishment who've been caught up in the scandal. The issue resurfaced last year after it emerged that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of Milly Dowler, a missing schoolgirl who was later found murdered.
The inquiry's website: