Rebekah Brooks (formerly Wade) has clarified her position on payments to police for the benefit of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee investigation into phone-hacking.
In 2003, whilst editor of the News of the World, she memorably told the Commons culture select committee: “We have paid the police for information in the past.”
She was saved from making more confessions by her then deputy editor Andy Coulson who stepped in saying: “We operate within the code and within the law and if there is a clear public interest then we will. The same holds for private detectives, subterfuge, a video bag – whatever you want to talk about.”
Now she has responded to a request from MPs for clarification on this point saying:
“Thank you for your letter dated 29 March 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to clarify comments I made towards the end of my appearance before the Culture Media and Sports Select Committee in March 2003.
“As can be seen from the transcript, I was responding to a specific line of questioning on how newspapers get information. My intention was simply to comment generally on the widely-held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers.
“If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention.”
Back in 2003, her then boss Les Hinton explained her confession away by saying: “I am chairman of News International and I have no reason to believe that there have ever been payments. I have spoken to Rebekah. She tells me she has not authorised payments to policemen. My understanding was that she said there had been payments made in the past.”