Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of The Sun tabloid newspaper, was loaned a horse by London’s Metropolitan Police, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Brooks, who also edited the now-defunct News of the World tabloid and was previously chief executive of News International, the Sun’s parent company, kept the retired service horse at her home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire between 2008 and 2010, The Financial Times reported.
The arrangement began a year after Clive Goodman, royal editor at the News of the World during Brooks’ editorship, was jailed for phone-hacking, but before it was alleged in 2009 that hacking was rife at the newspaper.
Metropolitan Police officers reportedly visited Brooks’ home to confirm it had suitable facilities and check she was a competent rider before the horse was transported there, according to The Daily Telegraph.
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Brooks, who remains on bail on suspicion of phone-hacking and corruption, paid for food and vet bills until it was rehoused with a police officer in Norfolk in 2010, the BBC reported. She resigned as chief executive of News International during the phone-hacking scandal last July.
Details of the arrangement emerged as the Leveson Inquiry continues to probe the relationship between News International and the Metropolitan Police. The Inquiry has been told that the relationship between the two was “at best inappropriately close and at worse corrupt.”
As news of the horse loan emerged, the Metropolitan Police issued a statement, saying: “When a police horse reaches the end of its working life, mounted branch officers find it a suitable retirement home.”
“Whilst responsibility for feeding the animal and paying vet bills passes to the person entrusted to its care at its new home, the horse remains the property of the Metropolitan Police Service.”
At the time she was loaned the horse, Brooks was editor of The Sun. However, she had given evidence to a parliamentary committee five years earlier that the News of the World had paid policemen for information when she had edited the Sunday tabloid between 2000 and 2003.
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