Lord Blair denies Rebekah Brooks horse loan leak

Rebekah Brooks borrowed her Scotland Yard horse after discussing it over lunch with Britain’s top officer, an inquiry heard today.

Former commissioner Lord Blair said he had been dining with the ex-News International chief executive before she called the force’s media chief to request the loan.

The Leveson Inquiry into press standards also heard how the teenage sons of two former commissioners were given work experience at The Sun newspaper.

Lord Blair said he had not been behind the leak to press last week that Raisa the horse was taken into Mrs Brooks’ care.

He also said he had no recollection of telling Brooks about a potential loan but accepted evidence from force press chief Dick Fedorcio that she would have found out about it over a lunch.

Lord Blair told the inquiry: “He (Mr Fedorcio) was telephoned by Rebekah Brooks asking about this arrangement – she had heard that this arrangement existed and he arranged for her to go down to see the inspector in charge of horses…

“This seems to have happened on the day that I had lunch with her and, what I understand Mr Fedorcio is going to say, that this was discussed at the lunch. I have absolutely no recollection of that.”

Lord Justice Leveson asked the former police chief: “Is this a big deal?” Lord Blair replied: “No.”

He also said “it was a perfectly normal process” to get his 15-year-old son work experience at The Sun. He said Fedorcio told him previous Met police chief Lord Condon had previously arranged for his child to sample life at News International.

Lord Blair said he told Fedorcio: “Oh well that’s the kind of thing that would excite most 15-year-olds, so I think that would be a good idea.”

Lord Blair also described how his wife had confronted Brooks over a headline in The Sun saying “Blair is doomed”. He added: “As I remember, that was the only time I saw Rebekah speechless.”

Details of the two-year loan of Raisa the horse were given last month to the Leveson Inquiry but only became public last week – prompting fresh scrutiny over relations between police chiefs and News International.

Brooks, who resigned last year as chief executive amid the furore over phone-hacking allegations, “fostered” the horse after it retired from active service in 2008.

She paid food and vet bills until Raisa was rehoused with a police officer in 2010, months before fresh investigations began into illegal activities at the News of the World.

The force said the horse – once ridden by the Prime Minister – was returned in a “poor” condition and later died of natural causes.

Brooks remains on bail after being questioned by detectives, days after resigning last summer, on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption.

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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