By Martin Hickman
Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson privately offered to help Rebekah Brooks prepare for a grilling by MPs at the height of the phone hacking scandal, the Old Bailey heard today.
The two senior Labour politicians offered their assistance days before Mrs Brooks’s scheduled appearance at the Commons Media, Culture and Sport select committee on 19 July 2011, the phone hacking trial was told.
Mr Blair’s offer came during text exchanges with Mrs Brooks which were read out by chief prosecutor Andrew Edis QC.
On 16 July 2011 – after Mrs Brooks knew that she was due to be interviewed by detectives investigating hacking – Mr Blair praised her choice of lawyer, Kingsley Napley partner Stephen Parkinson, as “excellent”.
When Mrs Brooks told him that she was “properly terrified” and that the police were “behaving badly”, Mr Blair reassured her: “Everyone panics on these occasions. Assume you have quality QC.”
He added: “I am no use on police stuff but call me on that that because I may be of use on Commons.” The former prime minister signed off his texts to the criminal suspect: “T x”
The court also heard that Mr Mandelson, the former deputy prime minister, was planning to coach Mrs Brooks on her select committee evidence the weekend beforehand, but in the end the offer was not taken up.