Tom Watson writes to PM after new #horsegate allegations

Tom Watson MP, Labour’s Deputy Chair, has written to David Cameron following a report in the Mail on Sunday headlined “How Number 10 misled MoS about Cameron and that police horse”.

Yesterday, the MoS revealed that Cameron was under further pressure over the ‘Horsegate’ controversy following new claims about his links with disgraced ex-News International boss Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks:

“However, The Mail on Sunday can disclose that Downing Street spent more than a year trying to conceal his horse-riding links with the couple. Acting on a tip-off in late 2010, in the early days of the News International phone-hacking scandal which led to Mrs Brooks’s resignation, this newspaper asked No?10 to confirm that Mr Cameron had been riding with Mr Brooks.

“A well-placed source said the pair had been out together and that Mr Brooks had been helping Mr Cameron improve his hunting style.

“The Mail on Sunday put the story to Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor employed as Mr Cameron’s head of communications at No?10. He denied the claims, stating that the Prime Minister had not had lessons from Mr Brooks and had not been riding with him. On Friday, Mr Cameron finally confessed: ‘I did go riding with Mr Brooks and one of them was this police horse Raisa.,’ the MoS reports.

Today Watson said: “If these reports are true it would be a sign of, at worst, a culture of dishonesty developing in Downing Street or, at best, a failure by yourself to ensure the highest standards of integrity are maintained by your staff. In either case, how do you propose to address this?”

Text of the letter from Tom Watson to David Cameron:

Dear Mr Cameron,

Following the persistent questioning by Mr Christopher Hope of the Daily Telegraph last week, you have admitted to frequently riding the Metropolitan police horse, Raisa, with the husband of Rebekah Brooks.  Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday claimed journalists were misled when they put similar questions to your press team last year.

I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions.

The Mail on Sunday claim they put a series of suggestions regarding horse riding in the company of Mr Brooks that were denied by Mr Andy Coulson. Did Mr Coulson discuss the matter with you before issuing the denial?

At what times last week did Downing Street staff raise the concerns of journalists with you?

What steps are you taking to establish whether the reports are true? You are on record as saying that, whilst working for you, Mr Coulson did “an excellent job in a proper, upright way at all times.” If the investigation finds this claim is inaccurate, what steps are you taking to ensure that other potential incidents of wrongdoing are investigated?

If these reports are true it would be a sign of, at worst, a culture of dishonesty developing in Downing Street or, at best, a failure by yourself to ensure the highest standards of integrity are maintained by your staff. In either case, how do you propose to address this?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Tom Watson
Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East

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