Questions have arisen over the relationship between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks, the former News International executive who is at the center of the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal.
During testimony before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, Brooks addressed the subject and downplayed how close she is with the Prime Minister and insisted that reports about the closeness of their relationship in the media are erroneous and exaggerations.
Before the Parliamentary committee, Brooks denied that she suggested the Prime Minister hire Coulson.
Brooks denied and disparaged media reports that she and Cameron have gone horseback riding and that she owns a racehorse and even some land with the Prime Minister.
She described Cameron as a neighbor and a friend – and that they have never had a private conversation that anyone would “disapprove” of.
A key element in their relationship has to do with Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor who was later hired by Cameron as communications chief (Coulson is now in police custody over the hacking affair).
Brooks also stated that she has never visited No. 10 Downing Street while Cameron has been Prime Minister, although she visited the residence “regularly” when Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were in office.
However, sources close to Cameron told the Daily Telegraph that Brooks and Cameron met twice over a four-day period during last Christmas.
Last October, Cameron reportedly praised Brooks as one of his “closest friends” during his birthday party.
John Mann, a Labour backbench MP, is accusing Cameron of a cover-up.
“It is outrageous that this has not been made public before. There is clearly an attempt to cover up, and the question is why,” he told reporters.
Mann also suggested that Cameron has violated ministerial codes through his relationship with Murdoch since it raises serious conflicts of interest issues.
Some Labour MPs have even called on Cameron to step down.
Dennis Skinner, a Labour MP, told media: “The 'firestorm’ the Prime Minister referred to a few days ago has turned into a raging inferno around the Government’s head. When is Dodgy Dave going to do the decent thing and resign?”
Labour leader Ed Miliband commented to the press: “[Cameron] has got to get a grip on all this and come clean.”