LEVESON INQUIRY Friday, 11 May 2011(10.00 am)
From this link: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Transcript-of-Morning-Hearing-11-May-2012.pdf
Page and line numbers correspond to the original transcript at link
Rebekah Brooks questioned by Queen’s Counsel Robert Jay
BROOKS BLACKBERRY WAS LOST ELIMINATING MESSAGES FROM LATE JUNE THROUGH ROUGHLY JULY 17, 2011. THIS CORRESPONDS TO THE DATES THAT BROOKS ALLEGEDLY CONSPIRED TO PERVERT JUSTICE ACCORDING TO THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICES. THOSE DATES WERE BETWEEN JULY 6 THROUGH JULY 19, 2011.
11 A. So my BlackBerry was imaged by my legal team when it was
12 returned from the MPS and it contained, I think, about
13 six weeks of emails and less so of texts, but about
14 a month of texts. But we had to image them and we had
15 some problems with that. [They were all destroyed except one email]
16 Q. So approximately when was your BlackBerry returned by
17 the MPS?
18 A. I think about three weeks later, maybe longer.
19 Q. Can you give us a month, please, so that we –
20 A. Oh sorry, in July.
21 Q. 2011, obviously?
22 A. 2011.
23 Q. So we have, as you explain, emails and texts which only
24 cover a limited period, from the beginning of June 2011
25 until, you say, 17 July. Maybe 15 July or 17 July –
1 A. I think it was the 17th.
2 Q. You also confirm that there is nothing of relevance to
3 this Inquiry in your private accounts, by which of
4 course you’re referring to private email accounts; is
5 that right?
6 A. That’s correct.
7 Q. Does it follow then that any emails you might have had
8 with politicians would only have been through your NI
9 email account?
10 A. That’s correct.
11 Q. And any text message contact with politicians would only
12 have been on your BlackBerry, which was a work
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. There was no other mobile phone?
16 A. No.
17 Q. Okay. I’ve been asked to put to you this question: were
18 there any emails or texts from either Mr Cameron or
19 Mr Osborne on your BlackBerry at the time you left
20 News International?
21 A. No, although when we got the image back, there was one
22 from Mr Cameron that was compressed, so — in June, but
23 there’s no content in it.
24 Q. So it’s a complete mystery what, if anything, it might
25 contain; is that right?
20 Q. This was obviously a big moment for News Corp.
21 I appreciate that you’re CEO of News International and
22 not News Corp and that distinction is understood, but
23 were there not discussions with either of the Murdochs
24 about the timing of the bid?
25 A. I — I played no formal role in the BSkyB transaction
1 and certainly not the strategy of timing and all that
2 kind of thing. I was made aware that it was on the
3 cards, so to speak, before the public announcement.
4 Maybe six weeks, a couple of months beforehand.
20 Q. People are also curious — it may be nothing turns on
21 this, I don’t know — about a further occasion when you
22 may have met with Mr Cameron on Boxing Day 2010. Can
23 you enlighten us there, Mrs Brooks?
24 A. Yes, no, it’s — I’ve been asked about it before.
25 Mr Cameron attended a Boxing Day mulled wine, mince pie
1 party at my sister-in-laws, and I popped in on my way to
2 another dinner and I actually don’t have any memory,
3 because I don’t think I did even speak to him or
4 Samantha that night, but my sister-in-law tells me they
5 were definitely there for the party, so I would have
6 seen them, but not even to have a proper conversation.
7 Q. So as to the scope of any conversation, which you say
8 wasn’t a proper conversation, are you sure it would not
9 have covered the BSkyB issue?
10 A. On?
11 Q. Boxing Day.
12 A. Definitely. Absolutely not. I mean, I don’t think
13 there was a conversation.
14 Q. I will come back to certain aspects of BSkyB in due
15 course, but I’d like to cover some general questions now
16 about the subject matter of conversations with
17 politicians, seeking to ignore, to the extent which one
18 can, private and social matters. It’s self-evident that
19 your conversations with politicians would embrace the
20 issues of the day; is that fair?
21 A. Sometimes, yes.
22 Q. Would they also embrace issues such as press regulation
23 and media policy?
24 A. Very rarely. I mean, there are some examples of when
25 I have met with a politician particularly to discuss
1 that, but they were very infrequent.
LEVESON INQUIRY Friday, 11 May 2011(2.00 pm)
From this link: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Transcript-of-Afternoon-Hearing-11-May-2012.pdf
Page and line numbers correspond to the original transcript at link
Rebekah Brooks questioned by Queens’s council Robert Jay
8 Q. You do say in paragraph 90, on the next page:
9 “When the matter arose in conversation, I am sure
10 that I would have expressed my views forcefully,
11 particularly given the vocal opposition.”
12 So it might be said the stronger the opposition, in
13 your eyes, the more forceful you needed to be. Would
14 you agree?
15 A. I think the anti-Sky bid alliance had so many different
16 members from all over the media and lots of other
17 commercial rivals of Sky that — and that they, I knew,
18 were seeing politicians and I think Dr Cable had
19 a dinner with them in — early on in 2010.
20 So, I think, yes, I did. When I met people, if
21 I had the chance to put our side of the story, so to
22 speak, I would.
23 Q. And those people included Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne,
24 didn’t they?
25 A. Not Mr Cameron. I did have a conversation with
1 Mr Osborne. I may have mentioned it to Mr Cameron, but
2 it’s not to be dwelled on because it wasn’t
3 a particularly long conversation. But I did have
4 a conversation with Mr Osborne about it, I think some
5 time in 2010, where I put my views that were contrary to
6 the ones that he had heard from everyone else in the –
7 Q. We’ll come back to that in a short time. In
8 paragraph 92 of your statement, you say:
9 “With regard to the suggestion that I had
10 ‘discussions’ [and you put that term in inverted commas]
11 with David Cameron and George Osborne, I am sure I did
12 refer to the issue generally.”
13 So is that statement relevant to both Mr Cameron and
14 Mr Osborne?
15 A. Yes, but — in general discussion in terms of — always
16 in relation to the — usually in relation to something
17 I’d heard that the anti-Sky bid had put forward, but
18 I remember better conversation with George Osborne some
19 time in 2010, but obviously as discussed, the BSkyB bid
20 was mentioned at dinner at our home in December, but
21 I don’t remember having a particularly forceful
22 conversation with Mr Cameron will about it, although our
23 views on the BSkyB bid — News Corp views and the
24 News International views and my views — were pretty
BROOKS DISMISSES FREDERIC MICHEL AS ‘OVEREGGING’ (OVERSTATING OR EXAGGERATING)
21 A. I think the truth is at the time — at the time of the
22 BSkyB bid, I suppose, like most journalists, I viewed
23 public affairs and lobbyists with slight scepticism, and
24 I often thought that Mr Michel perhaps overegged his
25 position. However, he was doing his job. He was
1 passing on information as lobbyists do.
2 Q. How do you know he was overegging his position?
3 A. I always thought — I suppose because, as journalists,
4 we would have quite direct contact with ministers and
5 prime ministers and — you know, in the course of our
6 work, but I always thought it was slightly strange that
7 he had that level — not slightly strange, actually.
8 That’s not fair. Fred was very good at his job.
9 I always thought the level of access that seemed to come
10 out was — was pretty good, really.
3 Literally, my main focus of — my main involvement in
4 the BSkyB bid, if you like, was informal, as in nothing
5 to do with the transaction, but was generally in
6 response to the huge amount of opposition and lobbying
7 that was going on by the anti-Sky bid alliance.
8 Q. You told us that already.
[email under discussion from News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel to Rebekah Brooks]
14 Q. By the time you’d read the email, the first in the
15 chain, if not before, you were well aware what Mr Hunt’s
16 view was about the merits of the BSkyB bid vis-a-vis
17 News Corp, weren’t you?
18 A. I said to you earlier: I don’t remember hearing anything
19 from Mr Hunt directly on the bid particularly, but
20 I have a recollection that he put something on his
21 website. I think it came up in this Inquiry. So –
22 that he put something positive on his website, wasn’t
23 it, or –
BROOKS CONTINUES TO MAINTAIN THAT SHE WAS UNAWARE OF CULTURE SECRETARY JEREMY HUNT’S VIEWS ON BSKYB EVEN AFTER SEEING THE EMAIL THAT SAYS HUNT IS IN LINE WITH NEWS CORP ON THE BIT. SHE QUALIFIES THIS LAST ANSWER WITH “I don’t remember hearing anything from Mr. Hunt directly… THAT’S THE HEDGE. SHE HEARD A GREAT DEAL OF REPORTING ON HIS VIEWS.
16 Q. Go first — because we have to look at it in this
17 order — to the bottom of page 02606, which is going to
18 be the first page of this document. We can see, at
19 16.29 hours on 27 June 2011 — are you with me?
20 A. I am, sorry, yes. It came on the screen –
21 Q. Frederic Michel sends an email and it goes to just you,
22 I think, although it’s not altogether clear. Is that
23 your understanding?
24 A. I would be surprised if it just came to me. As you’ve
25 seen from the previous emails, they were always copie
1 in to the same — almost the same group of people, but
2 perhaps it was directly to me.
3 Q. The text of the email is on the next page, 02607:
4 “Hunt will be making references to phone hacking in
5 his statement on Rubicon this week. He will be
6 repeating the same narrative as the one he gave in
7 Parliament a few weeks ago. This is based on his belief
8 that the police are pursuing things thoroughly and phone
9 hacking has nothing to do with the media plurality
10 issue.” [27 June 2011 email para 1]
11 There’s something gone wrong with the printing
13 A. That’s a corruption there.
14 Q. It’s corrupted.
15 “It’s extremely helpful.”
16 So you are being told what the Secretary of State is
17 going to be saying in his Rubicon statement — not, of
18 course, that the Secretary of State would have used that
19 code name, no doubt — in his statement to Parliament.
20 Q. Is that it?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. That bit speaks for itself.
23 “On the issue of privacy committee, he supports
24 the widening of its remit to the future of the press and
25 evidence from all newspaper groups on the regulatory
1 regime. He wants to prevent a public enquiry. For
2 this, the committee will need to come up with a strong
3 report in the autumn and put enough pressure on the PCC
4 to strengthen itself and take recommendations forward.” [27 June
2011 email para 2]
5 Was any of this news to you, Mrs Brooks?
6 A. Yes, I think it was.
7 Q. Was any of it surprising to you?
8 A. I think — I think it was — it was — it was news to me
9 and therefore could be surprising, yes. Probably.
10 Q. The next paragraph:
11 “JH is now starting to look into phone
12 hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me
13 ['me' is Mr Michel] to advise him privately in
14 the coming weeks and guide his and Number 10′s
15 positioning.” [27 June 2011 email para 3]
16 Do you know what that was about?
17 A. Well, I think it speaks for itself.
18 Q. Does that surprise you?
19 A. Well, at the time — the date of this email I think
20 is –
21 Q. 27 June.
22 A. — 27 June, and at the time at News International, it
23 was a particularly — I had a lot of my own concerns.
24 We’d just handed over the Harbottle & Lewis file to the
25 MPS. It was probably my focus, more than anything else
1 I obviously got this email in a million others.
2 I obviously read it at the time and I responded,
3 I think, to find out when the Rubicon statement was. So
4 I think the email and my response speak for themselves,
6 Q. Your response was, at 17.20 hours [to Michel's message sent at 16:29 hours] — we have to go back
7 to the previous page:
8 “When is the Rubicon statement?”
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And then the answer came back:
11 “Probably Wednesday.”
12 A. Mm-hm.
13 Q. Can you assist us further from your memory as to
14 Mr Michel’s dealings with Mr Hunt and/or Number 10 at
15 this time?
16 A. Probably not any further than the evidence that
17 James Murdoch gave, really. I mean, Fred Michel worked
18 for News Corp and not News International. So he didn’t
19 work for me. So my interactions with him were not as
20 frequent, so I’m not sure I can add anything
22 I know Fred Michel’s own statement was that
23 sometimes he overstated his case, but for all I know,
24 this could be directly from Jeremy Hunt or, as he says,
25 Number 10 here. So I just don’t know.
END OF EXCERPTED TRANSCRIPT