Christmas at News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks’ house was quite the social occasion.
David Cameron, the prime minister, was there. Andy Coulson, then still Cameron’s spin doctor, came too.
And Rupert Murdoch’s son James was the guest of honour.
Cameron is part of a network known as the “Chipping Norton set”. It is an intricate web of connections between the people who rule Britain.
This media and political elite, with their homes in and around Cameron’s leafy Witney constituency in Oxfordshire, work together, dine together and party together. David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks even go horse riding together.
“I know,” admitted former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan, “because I’ve door stepped my ex-boss by hiding in the bushes, waiting for her to come past with Cameron on a horse.”
Brooks came to Cameron’s birthday party in October last year and mingled with his old Etonian school friends.
One of them told the papers that they are “forever popping round for supper” at each other’s houses.
Rebekah is also said to be “close” to Samantha Cameron—as she once was to Sarah Brown.
Brooks was Rebekah Wade until 2009 when she married Charlie Brooks—after meeting him at a party hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, another member of the set.
Clarkson and Cameron are so friendly that Tory leader dressed up as “The Stig” from TV’s Top Gear to appear in a video tribute for Clarkson’s 50th birthday.
And luckily Charlie Brooks is an old chum of Cameron’s from Eton, so they all get along swimmingly.
The Brooks live in a £1 million mansion barely a mile from the Camerons. The prime minister was a guest at their wedding.
There, he was seen given “exuberant high-fives” to PR mogul Matthew Freud—another close friend of his and the group.
Freud’s firm, Freud Communications, has pocketed hundreds of thousands of pounds from the coalition.
And Freud just happens to be married to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth.
They are all part of a wider super-rich social circle in the county that includes Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone.
With all the trouble the Chipping Norton set has been having with mobile phones recently, perhaps he could be a useful friend to have.