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London police lent horse to Murdoch exec Rebekah Brooks

By Dan Rivers and Richard Allen Greene, CNN
February 28, 2012 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
Rebekah Brooks, seen here with Rupert Murdoch, has been arrested but not charged over the police bribery probe.
Rebekah Brooks, seen here with Rupert Murdoch, has been arrested but not charged over the police bribery probe.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The news prompts scorn and jokes amid a probe into press bribery of police
  • A Twitter account, RebekahsHorse, launches immediately, spewing puns
  • Rebekah Brooks has been arrested but not charged in the police bribery probe
  • Police say she got the horse as part of a retirement program for police animals

London (CNN) -- London's Metropolitan Police lent a retired horse to Rebekah Brooks when she was an executive at Rupert Murdoch's News International, her spokesman and the police said Tuesday.

The revelation was met with incredulity and scorn amid investigations into the potentially corrupt relationship between the police and the press in Britain.

The news immediately prompted the creation of a Twitter account, RebekahsHorse, that began churning out puns including: "My PR has set me up a brief twitter question and answer session later this afternoon. Hope I don't stirrup any trouble."

The BBC unintentionally added to the gag by putting a reporter named Fiona Trott on the story, her colleague Chris Mason tweeted.

But along with the guffaws, the news ramped up pressure even further on Murdoch's empire as it is battered by investigations into police bribery, phone hacking and e-mail hacking.

The relationship between the press and politicians has also come under scrutiny, to the extent that Prime Minister David Cameron last year denied ever having seen Brooks, a neighbor of his, in her pajamas.

Cameron meant the remark as a joke in the rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the House of Commons, but it resonated as questions swirled about the reach and influence of Murdoch and his executives.

Brooks, a former editor of the Murdoch tabloids the News of the World and the Sun, was arrested in July as part of the probe into police bribery and phone hacking. She resigned that month as chief executive of News International. She has not been charged.

The police lent her the horse in 2008 and it was "re-housed with a police officer in 2010," Scotland Yard said in a statement.

The Scotland Yard investigation into illegal eavesdropping by people working for Murdoch was dormant at the time. It was reopened in early 2011.

"When a police horse reaches the end of its working life, Mounted Branch officers find it a suitable retirement home," the police statement said.

Brooks is married to a horse trainer.

Her spokesman, David Wilson, refused to tell CNN the name of the horse.

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