Did David Cameron snub Obama to finish tennis game?
Downing Street denies claim from Old Etonian Charlie Brooks that PM ignored phone call
WHO needs enemies when you have friends like Charlie Brooks? David Cameron's Old Etonian chum, a member of the notorious Chipping Norton set and the husband of former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, has claimed that the Prime Minister once snubbed US President Barack Obama so the pair could finish off a game of tennis.
The racehorse trainer, who with his wife faces charges of perverting the course of justice over the News International phone hacking scandal, made the startling allegation in an interview in the Racing Post, in which he said he and Cameron were "pretty good friends" and that the Prime Minister believed his tennis match was more important than a phone call from the American President.
Brooks told the paper: "I played tennis with him at Chequers one day. I won the first set easily, then he won the second set, and then someone came up to him and said 'er... Mr Obama is on the phone for you, Prime Minister'.
"I thought 'Okay, we'll have to leave it there'. But he said 'I think we've got time for a third set - tell Mr Obama I'll ring him back'. He obviously thought he had me on the ropes. And I beat him two sets to one."
The embarrassing tale comes a day after Cameron flunked an impromptu culture quiz on the Late Show in New York and told host David Letterman: "I’ve ended my career on your show tonight!"
As the Daily Mail notes, Charlie Brooks’s anecdote is particularly sensitive because relations between him and Cameron have been in "deep freeze" since the Brookses were arrested and charged over the phone hacking scandal.
The Daily Telegraph adds: "The story will stir uncomfortable memories of claims in Mr Cameron's recent biography that he was very fond of playing tennis and 'chillaxing'."
To rub salt into the wound, Brooks also recalled that Cameron was known as the "fat, noisy one" at Eton.
However, Downing Street has dismissed Brooks's tale saying there is no record of a phone call from Obama on the day in question and pointing out that conversations with the US President are planned days or weeks in advance.
One explanation comes from Gordon Brown's former press officer, Damian McBride. He tweeted: "I'm guessing Obama wasn't really on the phone & that's just the pre-agreed 'out' the clerks always give Cam once a meeting has run an hour." Or if he needs an excuse to finish a tennis game he’s losing. ·