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Tabloid editor got free horse from UK police force

British police gave former News of the World tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks a retired police steed to look after, the force confirmed Tuesday — but they insisted it was not a gift horse.
/ Source: The Associated Press

British police gave former News of the World tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks a retired police steed to look after, the force confirmed Tuesday — but they insisted it was not a gift horse.

The Metropolitan Police said the 22-year-old horse was loaned to Brooks — former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers — in 2008 upon her request under a program that allows people to care for retired service animals and ride them.

Brooks' spokesman, David Wilson, confirmed that Brooks had been a "foster carer" for the animal and paid for the upkeep of the horse while it was stabled at her rural home.

"This is just a charitable thing Rebekah did," he said.

Brooks is married to horse trainer Charlie Brooks and has a country home near Chipping Norton, northwest of London, a posh rural enclave whose residents include Prime Minister David Cameron. Wilson said the couple "share a passion for horses."

The force said when the horse, called Raisa, got too old it was rehoused with a police officer in 2010. It has since died of natural causes, police said.

Britain's media ethics inquiry is currently looking into claims of crooked relations between the press and police.

Brooks is one of several current and former Murdoch executives who have been arrested and questioned over wrongdoing by the News of the World, whose journalists routinely intercepted the voicemails of people in the public eye in a quest for scoops.

Murdoch closed the paper in July amid public revulsion over the revelations.

On Tuesday the inquiry published a written statement from Canadian singer Bryan Adams, who said he was shocked when The Sun, another Murdoch tabloid, ran a story about him being stalked at his London home in 2008.

Adams, 52, said he had reported to police that a man and his mother were harassing him by waiting outside his home and ringing his doorbell incessantly. He said he had not discussed the incident with others and believed that police had leaked the information to the newspaper.

"I had not consented to this information being made public, and I was very annoyed that what I saw as a private issue was being reported without my knowledge or consent," he wrote. "Although I have no proof, and therefore it is of course speculation, I do not believe that there could be any other explanation than the fact that the source must have been someone related to my call to the police."

The inquiry committee also published a letter it has received from News Corp. Europe chairman and chief executive James Murdoch that set out the measures the company has put in place to strengthen corporate governance over the past year.

The younger Murdoch said that 330 staff members have received training on anti-bribery and corruption legislation, and that the company is updating its policies on record management to ensure they are clear and robust.

Also Tuesday, former police detective Jacqui Hames told the inquiry that she believed the News of the World had placed her and her police officer husband under surveillance to intimidate them over a murder inquiry her husband was working on.

Hames' husband, David Cook, had led an investigation into the 1987 death of private investigator Daniel Morgan, an unsolved murder that has been blighted by police corruption. The most recent attempt to prosecute the case collapsed in March 2011, and the Guardian newspaper later reported alleged corrupt links between the suspects involved and the News of the World.

Hames said she had asked Brooks in 2003 why they had spied on her and her husband, and said she did not receive a satisfactory answer.

"I believe that the real reason for the News of the World placing us under surveillance was that suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry were using their association with a powerful and well-resourced newspaper to try to intimidate us and so attempt to subvert the investigation," Hames testified to the inquiry.