Trial shone light on power-broking elite

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The exposure of the hacking scandal shone a light on how Britain’s power-broking elite mingled and interacted, in what came to be nicknamed the Chipping Norton Set.

Prominent names from the worlds of the media, politics, showbiz and PR - many unlinked to hacking - were based around the Oxfordshire market town, which sits in David Cameron’s Witney constituency.

Nestled in the countryside were to be found the homes not only of Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha, but also Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie - an Eton College pal of Cameron’s elder brother.

The Leveson inquiry into the hacking affair revealed details of the close social links between the two households, with Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks enjoying “country suppers” and exchanging text messages ending “LOL” - wrongly believed by the Prime Minister to mean “lots of love”, while the PM borrowed Brooks’ horse to go riding.

The PM’s policy guru Steve Hilton and his wife, Google head of communications Rachel Whetstone also lived nearby.

And the Set encompassed figures from the world of showbusiness including Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson - also a columnist with News International’s Sunday Times and Sun - and the former bassist with Blur, Alex James, as well as business leaders such as Carphone Warehouse co-founder Charlie Dunstone.

At the heart of the Set were PR guru Matthew Freud and his wife Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of News Corporation chairman Rupert. It was their lavish summer party in July 2011, just a day before the scandal blew up with the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, that was seen as the “last hurrah” of the Set.