Sadly, the best dishes were off the menu when Rebekah Brooks was grilled at the Leveson inquiry in London’s High Court on Friday.
She wasn’t asked whether she authorised phone hacking at the News of the World between 2001 and 2003, when she was editor; she wasn’t asked whether she knew about illegal payments to police and public officials when she did the same job at the Sun until 2009; and she wasn’t asked about her role in covering up the phone hacking scandal when the NotW’s royal correspondent was arrested in 2006.
But even though these spicy dishes were banned—so Brooks can get a fair trial if she is charged—there was plenty of tasty stuff on offer.
And for students of power it was a veritable feast, because the flame-haired temptress (as the NotW would surely have described her) had Britain’s power elite eating out of her hand, until she got the sack in July last year.
Not only was the remarkable Brooks on intimate terms with at least two recent prime ministers — David Cameron and Tony Blair — she was also best mates with at least two of Britain’s first ladies, Cherie Blair and Sarah Brown (wife of PM Gordon Brown).
Consequently, she was forever popping over for lunch, drinks, and dinner, being invited to their birthday parties (or inviting them to hers), and firing off text messages, emails and phone calls to organise social occasions or (in David Cameron’s case) offer support.
An interesting question — which Lord Leveson’s counsel Robert Jay QC tried to get answered — was whether these powerful people wanted to get close to Brooks because she was editor of Britain’s biggest-selling (and most rabid) tabloid or because she was in thick with her even more powerful boss Rupert Murdoch.
The answer of course is both. But Rebekah refused to admit it.