Cameron tells fired editor to ‘keep your head up’

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DAVID Cameron’s close friendship with former News International boss Rebekah Brooks was laid bare as the Leveson Inquiry into media standards heard how he would sign off texts to her with “lots of love”.

Mrs Brooks disclosed that the Prime Minister sent a message urging her to “keep your head up” when she resigned over the phone hacking scandal and had expressed regret that he could not be more loyal to her in public.

The embarrassing revelations emerged in Mrs Brooks’ evidence to the inquiry yesterday.

She detailed her contacts over more than a decade, with the most powerful people in the country, including dozens of lunches and dinners with successive prime ministers.

However she denied using her clout to get her own way with Government ministers or having inappropriate dealings with senior police officers.

The former media boss insisted that she did not threaten to put Home Secretary Theresa May on the front page of The Sun if she did not order a review into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

Mrs Brooks said that The Sun and the Sunday Times had serialised the book written by Kate and Gerry McCann and helped them to get a review into the case by the Metropolitan Police.

But she said she did not speak to Downing Street or the Home Office about the issue.

She also denied demanding that David Cameron “move” Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve over views he expressed about not scrapping the Human Rights Act.

She claimed too much had been made of the “cosy” relationships between journalists and politicians.

“I have never compromised my position as a journalist by having a friendly relationship with a politician,” she said. “I’ve never known a politician compromise their position, particularly with their friendship with me or with another executive.”

The inquiry heard she met or dined with Tony Blair at least 30 times between 1998 and 2007, including three times on their own. There was a minimum of five encounters with Gordon Brown after although she said she was closer to his “amazing” wife Sarah.

But the links with Mr Cameron, whom she described as a “friend”, are likely to provoke the most fallout. They met at least once for lunch and four times for dinner following the 2010 election, including a now notorious Christmas dinner party at the Brooks’ Oxfordshire home on December 23.

Mrs Brooks said that after she left News International last July she received commiserations from “some Tories” but “very few Labour politicians”. “I received some indirect messages from Number 10, Number 11, the Home Office, the Foreign Office,” she said. Mrs Brooks also dismissed reports that Mr Cameron would text her 12 times a day as preposterous.

She added: “I would text Mr Cameron, and vice-versa, on occasion, like a lot of people ...He would sign them off DC, in the main. Occasionally he would sign them off ‘lol’, lots of love. Until I told him it meant ‘laugh out loud’.”

Asked whether she discussed the phone-hacking scandal with Mr Cameron between details emerging of pay-offs to victims in July 2009 and her resignation in 2011, Mrs Brooks said: “I think on occasion and not very often.”

Asked whether Mr Cameron’s interest was related to the position of his then-spin doctor Andy Coulson, Mrs Brooks said: “No.”

She was also questioned about Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to take full control of BSkyB,.

Asked if she discussed the issue with Mr Cameron at the dinner at her home in December 2010, she said it was mentioned because it was in the news after Business Secretary Vince Cable was reported as promising to “declare war” on Mr Murdoch.

The incident led to Mr Cable handing over responsibility for deciding whether to allow the bid to Jeremy Hunt.

It was later dropped as the hacking scandal unfolded.