Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

PM 'must reveal media bosses links'

David Cameron said he did ride a horse lent by police to former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks

Labour has called for David Cameron to "come clean" over close links to media bosses after he admitted riding a horse lent by Scotland Yard to ex-News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks.

The Prime Minister ended speculation by confirming that the ex-police horse, named Raisa, was among his mounts on rides with Mrs Brooks's husband Charlie - a friend from their Eton schooldays.

He apologised for allowing a "confusing picture" to emerge about his personal connection to the animal, leaving him forced to address the issue at a Brussels post-summit press conference.

"He has a number of horses and, yes, one of them was this former police horse Raisa which I did ride," he said of his outings with Mr Brooks, which he stressed were all before he became premier.

"I am very sorry to hear that Raisa is no longer with us and I think I should probably conclude by saying I don't think I will be getting back into the saddle any time soon," he quipped.

The revelation caused mirth among politicians. Labour leader Ed Miliband joked that that must have been what Mr Cameron meant when he talked of "cleaning out the stables at News International".

But the Labour leader said that, while the story was "ridiculous", it was symbolic of a more serious issue.

Speaking to Labour's Scottish conference in Dundee, Mr Miliband said: "Today we learn that Cameron cannot even manage to be straight about riding a horse loaned to him by a News International executive.

"The horse story may seem ridiculous. It is. But it is also becoming the symbol of how leading politicians got too close to powerful media players."

London's Conservative mayor Boris Johnson said he had not ridden the horse. "I count myself proudly as a non-member of any kind of Chipping Norton set," he told BBC London, in a reference to the area of Oxfordshire where Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks live.

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