LONDON - Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper chief told David Cameron the night before a crucial political speech in 2009 that they were "professionally in this together", an inquiry revealed on Thursday, embarrassing the man who now governs Britain. A text message to Cameron, then in opposition, from Rebekah Brooks, then the head of Murdoch's British newspapers, was read out to the prime minister on live television during a grilling about his ties to the tycoon's News Corp. "I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a personal friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together. Speech of your life? Yes he Cam!" Brooks told Cameron in that message the night before his speech.
Testifying under oath at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, Cameron said Brooks had merely meant that they had a common interest because her Sun newspaper had come out in support of the Conservative Party ahead of the 2010 election.
But the message makes excruciating reading for Cameron as "We're all in this together" was the Conservatives' campaign slogan for that election. It was meant to present the party as inclusive and caring, but the Brooks message instead reinforces the perception of a party in thrall to a powerful media clique.
"Yes he Cam" was the Sun's headline the day after he made the 2009 speech, suggesting Brooks had decided how the newspaper would react to the speech before it was made.
Brooks quit her News Corp job last year over phone-hacking by reporters on her watch and has since been charged with perverting the course of justice for allegedly hiding evidence.
Cameron ordered the Leveson Inquiry last year at a time when he was under pressure to crack down on Murdoch's papers because of the revelation that reporters at the News of the World tabloid had hacked into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl.
But if Cameron had hoped the inquiry might neuter the hacking scandal, it has done the opposite by producing evidence that has raised doubts about his own judgment and caused a rift with his Liberal Democrat coalition partners.