How Brooks tried to "destroy the Daily Mail"

Murdoch to Dacre: "We are not going to be the only bad dog on the street."

Rebekah Brooks spearheaded a strategy designed to implicate other British newspapers in the phone-hacking scandal, according to the New York Times. Based on a series of interviews with former News International staff, the newspaper claims that Brooks asked News of the World journalists to find evidence of hacking by other papers.

The paper reports that Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, told senior managers that he had been told by PR agencies, businessmen and footballers that executives at News International had urged them to look into whether their phones had been hacked by journalists working for the Mail group. It even suggests that Murdoch himself warned Dacre to be careful:

At a private meeting, Rupert Murdoch warned Paul Dacre, the editor of the rival Daily Mail newspaper and one of the most powerful men on Fleet Street, that "we are not going to be the only bad dog on the street," according to an account that Mr. Dacre gave to his management team. Mr. Murdoch's spokesman did not respond to questions about his private conversations.

According to the report, Dacre confronted Brooks at a hotel after hearing that she was targeting his paper, saying:

You are trying to tear down the entire industry.

In another incident, Lady Claudia Rothermere, the wife of the owner of the Mail, is said to have overheard Brooks say at a dinner party that the Mail was just as blameworthy as the News of the World:

"We didn't break the law," Lady Rothermere said, according to two sources with knowledge of the exchange. Ms. Brooks asked who Lady Rothermere thought she was, "Mother Teresa?"

Given that the Daily Mail is widely expected to gain the most from the demise of the News of the World, it is safe to say the strategy didn't work (nor did Brooks' apparent wish to take down the Guardian). However, in a story with so many twists and turns, it is not inconceivable to imagine that other newspapers will yet be drawn into the scandal. Dacre -- live in fear.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.