Tony Blair offered to act as an “unofficial adviser” and allegedly told Rebekah Brooks to “tough up” when she sought his guidance at the height of the phone- hacking crisis at the News of the World, prosecutors have told the Old Bailey.
The former prime minister, who also allegedly advised taking sleeping pills, had an hour-long conversation with Brooks in July 2011 - the contents of which the editor sent to boss James Murdoch in an email, the hacking trial was told.
According to Brooks, Mr Blair advised “no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches”.
Instead, the former News of the World (NotW) and Sun editor said he suggested an independent inquiry which would report back and clear their names in due course.
Mr Blair also allegedly advocated sleeping pills for “clear heads” and told Brooks: “It will pass. Tough up.”
Members of the jury were shown an email Brooks sent to Mr Murdoch on July 11 2011, just days before she was arrested by police.
In it, she relayed the telephone conversation she had with the former Labour premier in five key points.
The court heard that Brooks’s notes of the conversation, emailed to Mr Murdoch at 4.21pm on July 11, stated that Mr Blair recommended:
“1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact-checkers, etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton-style report.
“2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept your shortcomings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.
“3. Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches.
“4. It will pass. Tough up.
“5. He is available for you (James Murdoch), KRM (Rupert Murdoch) and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us.
“He is sending more notes later.”
The mention of a “Hutton-style inquiry” was not explained in court today, but it could be a reference to Lord Hutton’s investigation into the death of government weapons expert David Kelly.
In the same email chain sent the day after the final edition of the NotW was published, Brooks relayed to Mr Murdoch the news that circulation figures for the Sunday tabloid were still close to four million, saying: “So much for a sales boycott.”
The son of Rupert Murdoch, who was chief executive of News International before Brooks, replied at 3.53pm: “What are you doing on email?”
Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, denies all charges in the phone hacking trial.