LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) David Cameron signed off messages to tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks with an affectionate "LOL", she told an inquiry on Friday, conjuring the embarrassing image of a British prime minister-in-waiting fawning over a Rupert Murdoch protegee.
|Revelations: Rebekah Brooks gives evidence to the Leveson Inquiry as she discusses emails and texts between politiciansi
As editor of Britain's most-read newspapers the News of the World and later the Sun, Brooks had the power to make or break careers and was courted for years by top politicians until she abruptly fell from grace in July 2011. Appearing at a judicial i nquiry into press standards,
Brooks was pressed for details of her c lose friendships with successive British prime ministers, including Labour's Tony Blair and Conservative David Cameron, now in office. "Occasionally he would sign them off LOL, lots of love,"
Brooks said in answer to a question on text messages she frequently exchanged with Cameron during the 2010 election campaign, when he was still in opposition. "Actually, until I told him it meant 'Laugh Out Loud', and then he didn't sign them like that anymore," she added, blushing to the roots of her signature bright red curls.
Murdoch shut down the News of the World last July when it emerged its journalists had hacked into the voicemails of public figures and a murdered schoolgirl. In the wake of the revelations, Brooks resigned as CEO of Murdoch's British newspaper group and is now under police investigation.
Her testimony at the Leveson Inquiry revealed she had met frequently with Cameron, lobbied key offices of government for the approval of a major Murdoch takeover bid and intervened in the long-running row between former Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
"We were a newspaper that was looking after the real, serious concerns of our readers," she said, glancing between her race-horse trainer husband Charlie, the judge and the lead lawyer.
Brooks, a celebrity in her own right who was previously married to an actor from a popular TV series, was dressed in a demure black dress with white collar and cuffs.
Lawyer Robert Jay cut straight to the chase as Brooks began her day-long testimony, pressing her for names of politicians who had expressed sympathy when she was caught up in the hacking storm in July 2011. At first Brooks sought to evade the question, but eventually said:
"I received some indirect messages from Number 10, Number 11, the Home Office, the Foreign Office." Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street are the prime minister's and finance ministers offices respectively.