People pay Tony Blair handsomely for his PR advice; but, today, thanks to the hacking trial at the Old Bailey, we allegedly get to see a glimpse of the Great Man in action for free. The court was shown this email sent by Rebekah Brooks on the day after the last ever edition of the News of the Screws went to press; it is an account of a conversation she claims to have had with Tony Blair:
Only got 10 minutes before I see Charlie for confiscation!
I had an hour on the phone to Tony Blair.
1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton style report.
2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.
3. Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short term solutions as they only give you long term headaches.
4. It will pass. Tough up.
5. He is available for you, KRM [Rupert Murdoch] and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us.
He is sending more notes later.
Let us leave aside the advice to take sleeping pills and the assertion that one day it will all blow over, because the earlier sections are priceless – rarely do we plebs get an insight into how power really works. The sensible advice in part one is thrown into relief by the cynicism in part two. There’s an ironic historical context here, too; readers with long memories will recall that the leaked Hutton Report found its way into the pages of, of all papers, The Sun, edited at the time by one Rebekah Brooks. As the saying goes, why change a tried and tested formula?
Tony Blair’s office has not yet commented on these revelations.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.