British PM signed texts with 'love' to Rebekah Brooks

British Prime Minister David Cameron signed texts to ex-Rupert Murdoch aide Rebekah Brooks "lots of love" and privately discussed the News of the World scandal with her, she told an inquiry Friday.

In her long-awaited testimony at the Leveson Inquiry into the ethics of the press and its ties to politicians, she said Cameron also sent an "indirect" message of commiseration after she resigned from Murdoch's media empire.

Brooks, 43, was arrested in July over allegations of phone-hacking and bribing public officials. She and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie Brooks were rearrested in March on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Asked by counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay how Cameron signed his mobile phone text messages to her, Brooks replied: "He would sign them off DC in the main.

"Occasionally he would sign them off 'LOL', lots of love, until I told him it meant 'laugh out loud'."

Brooks was editor of the now-defunct News of the World from 2000 to 2003 and quit as chief executive of Murdoch's British newspaper wing News International in July 2011 after the hacking scandal erupted.

She said Conservative leader Cameron also asked her about phone hacking during a conversation in 2010, after a series of celebrities sued the News of the World over the interception of their mobile phone voicemails.

"Did we ever speak about it in those two years (2010 and 2011)? Yes we did, but I do remember in 2010 having a more detailed conversation ... because that was when the civil cases were coming in and it became more newsworthy," she said.

"I think he asked me what the update was, I think it had been on the news that day, so I explained the story behind the news. No secret information, no privileged information, just a general update."

At one point Brooks said she was "very concerned" to avoid questions that could prejudice any criminal proceedings.

Brooks said Cameron had been friends for years with the family of her husband, with whom Cameron studied at the elite boarding school Eton.

Asked about a report in The Times that Cameron had sent a text message saying "keep your head up" after her resignation on July 15 last year, Brooks said the message was "along those lines".

"I don't think they were the exact words but that was the gist. It was indirect," she said in her sworn testimony to the inquiry.

Brooks said she also received indirect messages from Cameron's Downing Street office and from the offices of finance minister George Osborne, interior minister Theresa May and foreign minister William Hague.

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair also sent a message of commiseration but his successor Gordon Brown was "probably getting the bunting out," she said with a smile.

Murdoch's Sun newspaper had dropped its support for Labour ahead of elections in 2010, when Brown was head of the party, and Labour were subsequently voted out of office.

The Camerons and the Brookses are neighbours in the premier's constituency in rural Oxfordshire, forming part of what is dubbed the "Chipping Norton Set," a group of the rich and powerful who live near the village of the same name.

Brooks was greeted by a pantomime horse as she arrived at the inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London -- a reference to the fact that Cameron has admitted riding a horse lent to Brooks by Scotland Yard.

The horse-riding incident was jokingly dubbed "horsegate" by the British press but it underscored real concern in Britain about the often cosy relationship between the media, politicians and police.

Those links are part of the subject of the inquiry led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, as well as into the wider ethics of the press following the exposure of the hacking scandal at the News of the World.

Former Cameron spokesman and News of the World editor Andy Coulson -- who is also on police bail after being arrested over hacking and bribery allegations -- testified at the inquiry on Thursday.

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