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David Cameron at the Leveson inquiry today. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Leveson: Brooks texted Cameron 'We're definitely in this together'

The inquiry into media ethics in the UK heard evidence from the British Prime Minister today as the close relationship between David Cameron and senior News International figures came under scrutiny.

THE CLOSE RELATIONSHIP between the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the former News International executive Rebekah Brooks was laid bare at the Leveson inquiry into media ethics today.

As the Conservative party leader gave evidence to the inquiry into UK media ethics, it heard that a text message Brooks sent to Cameron after the company’s Sun newspaper switched its support to his party read “professionally we’re definitely in this together”.

The 2009 text from Brooks – who is now the subject of criminal charges relating to the phone hacking scandal – raised fresh questions about Cameron’s links to Rupert Murdoch’s News International company which has been heavily criticised in the wake of the scandal.

During five hours of evidence to the Leveson inquiry Cameron repeatedly denied making secret deals with Murdoch’s company  in exchange for the political support from its newspapers which include The Sun, The Times, the Sunday Times and the now-defunct News of The World.

In the text, which Brooks sent to Cameron the night before he gave a crucial speech to the Conservative Party conference, she explained that she understood why the future Prime Minister could not attend a party The Times newspaper was holding at the conference.

The full text said:

But seriously I do understand the issue with the Times. Let’s discuss over country supper soon. On the party it was because I had asked a number of NI [News International] people to Manchester post endorsement and they were disappointed not to see you. But as always Sam was wonderful (and I thought it was OE’s [Old Etonians] were charm personfied!) I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend but because professionally we’re definitely in this together! Speech of your life? Yes he Cam!

“Yes he Cam” was the headline the next day in The Sun which had come out in support of Cameron just over a week earlier during the then governing Labour Party’s conference.

The inquiry heard in May that Cameron signed texts to Brooks “LOL”, thinking it stood for “lots of love”.

Close relationship

Under questioning from the inquiry’s lead counsel, Robert Jay, Cameron hit out at “conspiracy theories” over his relationship with News International and its US parent company’s bid for control of BSkyB.

“The idea of overt deals is nonsense. I also don’t believe in this theory that there was also a nod and a wink and a covert agreement,” he told the inquiry.

He did however admit that relationships between the press and politicians had been too close in the years leading up to the explosion of the phone hacking scandal last summer following revelations that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked by the News of The World.

“I think in the last 20 years the relationship has not been right. I think it has been too close. I don’t think the regulatory system we have at the moment works,” he said.

Cameron also defended his decision to hire his former communications chief Andy Coulson, a former NoTW editor who resigned from the paper after one of his reporters was jailed for hacking in 2007.

Cameron said he had sought face-to-face assurances from Coulsen when he appointed him that he had not been aware of phone hacking at the paper which at the time was believed to have involved one rogue reporter.

Coulson has since been charged with perjury and arrested over hacking and bribery allegations. ”This (Coulson’s appointment) has come back to haunt both him and me,” Cameron said.

Separately, Brooks appeared in court charged with hiding material during the last days of the News of The World yesterday. Her husband, Charlie Brooks, and four other people have also been charged and will all appear at a court in London on 22 June.

In total, police have arrested around 50 people in combined investigations into phone-hacking and bribery of public officials. The Metropolitan Police said they had arrested three more people today in a bribery probe linked to the hacking investigation, including a former prison officer.

Judge Brian Leveson is due to produce a report in October on the state of British media and the future regulation of it.

- with reporting from AFP

Read: LOL! ROFL! Rebekah Brooks teaches Cameron textspeak

Leveson: Gordon Brown contradicts Murdoch, criticises The Sun

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