You wouldn’t expect Rebekah Brooks’s husband to tell the press his wife is guilty of phone hacking and perverting the course of justice, but you might expect him to keep his mouth shut while she’s facing two, and possibly three, sets of criminal charges.
However, Old Etonian racehorse trainer Charlie has a book to sell, and he galloped gallantly to her defence this weekend in Britain’s Sunday Times, which is owned by Rebekah’s old boss, Rupert Murdoch.
Coincidentally, the publisher of Brooks’ new spy novel Switch (or “Switch Off”) as The Guardian rates it, is also a Murdoch-owned company, Harper Collins.
Brooks gave his interview to the paper a week ago, the day after Rebekah appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on phone hacking charges, (which include the charge that she was involved in hacking the voicemails of murdered teenager, Milly Dowler).
"A day like yesterday felt like nothing,” Charlie assured the Sunday Times. “It was just, oh Rebekah was in court being charged with phone-hacking. We've become so weathered to it we hardly bother to talk about it."
That’s not what it looked like as Murdoch’s former British newspaper boss braved the media scrum at Westminster Magistrates Court amid shouts from photographers of “Rebekah, this way please”. Her own papers -- The Sun and News of the World -- would have branded her “Grim Faced”. But we’ll leave that aside.
Asked whether he expects her to be ultimately acquitted, Charlie Brooks replied, “I am 100% confident,” then added, “I would be disappointed if, pre-court, they [the Crown Prosecution Service] decided not to pursue charges against Rebekah for phone hacking. That's not resolution, that's not putting the record straight. You'd never be able to clear your name unless it goes through a court.”
Charlie knows a little bit about that, perhaps. Back in 1999, he was arrested on suspicion of race fixing, after the hot favourite in a two-horse race at Warwick (saddled by his stable) was pulled up, thus landing hefty bets on the winner. Brooks was never charged, but threw in his career as a trainer around this time.
In March this year, Brooks said he was looking forward to the highlight of the British steeplechasing calendar, the Cheltenham Festival, telling readers of his column in the Telegraph that the happiest time of his year was three hours before the first race on the first Tuesday.
Cruel world that it is, the Metropolitan Police chose that very day to bang on the Brookses’ door at crack of dawn and arrest him and Rebekah on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
“Baby asleep. Eighteen of them [police]. They came running up the stairs shouting their heads off,” he told the Sunday Times this weekend. “It felt like a very over-the-top operation. The nanny was totally traumatised.”
Brooks, who will be back in court with Rebekah at the end of this month, assured the Sunday Times that his wife will emerge from it all with her head held high, and claims that she has “a big career in front of her”.
"I think, in a way, this will turn out to be a great opportunity for her," says Brooks. “While this bit might be a bit traumatic, I actually think she'll look back and think, ‘That was the catalyst that made me have the second half of my life’. I think that will be the case and will be a good thing.”
Charlie will have another chance to spruik his wife’s innocence this Friday, when he’s due to spend a couple of hours at his local bookshop in Chipping Norton, close to Prime Minister David Cameron’s country home, to talk about his latest thriller, Switch, which one reviewer has described as a “sad offering ... not very well written”.
Brooks’s previous book Citizen, which was about shenanigans in racing, got rather better reviews. One paper called it “Superbly paced”, while another described it as a “smashing read”. And we’re sure that those judgements were 100% objective: the first was from the News of the World, the first paper his wife edited; the second was from The Sun, which she was still editing when the book was published.
Our guess is the real story of the trials of Rebekah and her hubby will be a lot more interesting, as long as Charlie doesn’t write it.