Cameron and Rebekah Brooks raise eyebrows at party
As the PM ponders press regulation, he's seen in 'intense' chat with Brooks at Chipping Norton bash
DOWNING STREET has confirmed that David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive charged with making illegal payments to public officials, had a long conversation at a party on Saturday night, The Guardian reports.
The chin-wag, described as "intense" by one eyewitness, took place at an early Christmas party thrown by Tom Astor, great-grandson of the society hostess and MP Nancy Astor, at Merriscourt Farm in Chipping Norton, near where Cameron has his constituency home.
Some will argue that there is nothing wrong with two old friends and neighbours meeting at a social function, admits The Guardian. But Cameron's friendship with Brooks was a source of embarrassment to the Prime Minister during the Leveson inquiry when he was forced to reveal intimate details of his text exchanges with her while she was running Rupert Murdoch's News International.
Now that Leveson has handed down his recommendations and Cameron "faces politically fraught decisions on how to regulate the media," some will question his "judgment" in being seen in conversation with Brooks, says the paper.
Cameron is expected to meet Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, to discuss how to settle the issue of media regulation, including any role for "statutory underpinning" to ensure it works.
Brooks has been charged over alleged payments to police and public officials, including a count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012. She has also been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. She has insisted she is innocent.
It was reported earlier this month that Rupert Murdoch sanctioned a compensation package worth £10.8m when she parted ways with News International.