UPDATE: A spokesperson for Tony Blair has released a statement responding to Rebekah Brooks' email. “This was Mr Blair simply giving informal advice over the phone," the spokesperson said. Click over to the Independent for the full statement.
ORIGINAL STORY: Former British prime minister Tony Blair offered to give covert advice to Rupert Murdoch and his embattled deputies during the height of the phone hacking scandal, it emerged on Wednesday.
The jury in the criminal trial against former key Murdoch executive Rebekah Brooks and others was shown the contents of an email that Brooks sent to Murdoch's son, James, in July 2011 — just as the hacking scandal had exploded in Britain.
Brooks wrote that she'd spoken to Blair for an hour, that he had advised her to set up an independent inquiry into the scandal to "clear" her name, and that he had told her "He is available to you, KRM [Rupert Murdoch] and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us":
...and here is the original Blair/Brooks email ("Keep taking the sleeping pills") pic.twitter.com/Rf1PPsiJCB
— alan rusbridger (@arusbridger) February 19, 2014
The email shows, if any proof was needed, how deeply connected Brooks and Murdoch were with the political class in Britain. The revelation that Blair was offering behind-the-scenes assistance also touched a nerve among some British journalists:
Tony Blair offered advice to Murdochs at heigh of hacking scandal as Labour Party were trying to expose truth.
— Nick Davies (@Bynickdavies) February 19, 2014
Based on Blair-Brooks advice someone should do a film where Pierce Brosnan plays a greedy dubious version of Blair. http://t.co/1unUboHkYu
— PeterBale (@PeterBale) February 19, 2014
How will Tony Blair explain to Ed Miliband why he was an "unofficial advisor" to the Murdoch team while labour was exposing hacking issue.
— William Crawley (@williamcrawley) February 19, 2014
Tony Blair's apparent lack of dignity and judgement faced with monied power casts brighter light on aspects of his tenure #hackingtrial
— emily bell (@emilybell) February 19, 2014