David Cameron's close relations with key figures in
the Murdoch media empire as he prepared to run for office came under
close scrutiny at a judicial inquiry in Britain Thursday.
Cameron, who came to power in 2010, called for a new independent system of press regulation in Britain because relations between politicians and the powerful media empire of Rupert Murdoch had been "too close" in the past.
However, under forensic questioning during a day-long hearing at a judicial inquiry into media standards, Cameron had to admit that he himself maintained close and personal relations with controversial figures at Murdoch's News International group.
One was Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, who is now facing trial on charges of perverting the course of justice in connection with the long-running phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch's News of the World newspaper.
The inquiry, which has obtained thousands of documents from News International, confronted Cameron with a potentially embarrassing text message Brooks sent him on the eve of a crucial speech to the Conservative Party conference in October, 2009.
"I'm so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend but because professionally we are in this together. Speech of your life? Yes he Cam! (for Cameron)"
Asked to explain the message, Mr Cameron said: "We were friends. But professionally, me as leader of the Conservative Party, her in newspapers, we were going to be pushing the same political agenda."
Cameron said the text of support from Brooks was a reflection of the fact that Murdoch's Sun newspaper had the previous week switched its support back to the Conservatives from the Labour Party.
He revealed that his friendly relations with Brooks intensified after she married Charlie Brooks, an old school friend of the prime minister.
Both Brooks and her husband are facing trial on charges of perverting the course of justice, relating to the removal of crucial evidence from News International offices just days before she stepped down from her position last year.
Cameron was also closely questioned about his appointment of Andy Coulson, a former editor of Murdoch's now defunct News of the World Sunday tabloid, to the job of media spokesman for the Conservative Party in 2007.
Coulson, who is now under legal investigation in connection with the phone-hacking scandal, resigned from his job as government spokesman in January, 2011.
Cameron said he hired the former editor because he wanted a "big hitter" who would be able to "cope with the huge media pressure."
"In the end it was my decision to hire him and I take responsibility for that," said Cameron. He said he accepted Coulson's assurances that phone-hacking at the News of the World was not widespread.
"My question was always whether any new evidence had been disclosed to suggest any knowledge of hacking. If such evidence had been revealed I would not have employed him," said Cameron.
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