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Ex-editor Brooks mentions links to Cameron

LONDON -- Former hotshot editor Rebekah Brooks drew Prime Minister David Cameron closer into Britain's tabloid phone hacking scandal Friday, saying he had offered her some support after the uproar over illegal journalistic practices forced her to quit.

Brooks, who resigned in July as chief executive of News International, Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper division, detailed her close friendships with Cameron, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and their families, in testimony to the country's inquiry into media ethics.

In six hours of questioning, Brooks listed Christmas parties, private dinners and hotel lunches she shared with the country's most powerful political leaders. She also acknowledged that she used her access to lobby the British government over a planned News Corp. takeover deal that would have netted Murdoch's media empire a lucrative satellite broadcaster.

The 43-year-old, a former editor of two Murdoch tabloids -- The Sun and the now-defunct News of The World -- has twice been arrested and questioned by police about illegal eavesdropping and obstruction of justice. She has not been charged with any offense, but is on bail pending further investigations -- so the inquiry lawyer did not question her directly about phone hacking allegations.

Brooks said Cameron was a personal friend and a neighbor in the picturesque Cotswolds area of southern England.

After she quit in July due to the uproar over phone hacking, Brooks said she had received "indirect messages" of support: text messages sent by the aides of politicians, relaying their personal thoughts.

"I received some indirect messages from No. 10, No. 11, the Home Office and Foreign Office," Brooks said, referring to Cameron, Treasury chief George Osborne and other leading cabinet members.

She agreed with inquiry lawyer Robert Jay that a message from Cameron had told her to "keep your head up" and expressed regret that he could not offer more support publicly.

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