Rebekah Brooks suffered more criticism and gossip about her relationship with Rupert Murdoch because she was a woman, she said today.
Mrs Brooks said no one would write “the first thing” about her dealings with the media mogul if she was a “grumpy old man”.
The former editor of The Sun and the News of the World told the Leveson Inquiry she would be hypocritical to complain about intrusion into her personal relationships, but a lot of the criticism and gossip she experienced was “gender-based”.
Brooks, 43, became chief executive of Mr Murdoch’s UK newspapers division News International in September 2009 until she resigned in the wake of the hacking scandal last July.
She said during her appearance today that a lot of trivial questions had been put to her – in her evidence she quashed a rumour that the pair used to swim together when Mr Murdoch was in London.
She also denied that, after she was arrested in 2005 over an alleged assault on her then-husband, Mr Murdoch sent an outfit to the police station where she was being held.
Mrs Brooks was released without charge and the police took no further action.
“I think that my relationship with Mr Murdoch – if I was a grumpy old man of Fleet Street, no one would write the first thing about it,” she said.
She said it would be the “height of hypocrisy” for her to complain about intrusions into her personal life, but said: “However, I have had these complaints from people in my career as a journalist and I have always tried to understand and always tried to use my judgment to where the line fell.
“As to my own situation, well, it’s been a difficult year, but a lot of the questions that I have had from Mr Jay (Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry), I felt concentrated on quite a trivial side.
“I am happy to discuss them but I’m not sure it helps this inquiry, whether Mr Murdoch bought me a suit or not, or I went swimming with him.”
She told the inquiry the Murdochs were “just like any normal family, they have dynamics and they change”.
Asked by Mr Jay if a claim made in Vanity Fair that she became a “go-between” in an increasingly fraught relationship between Rupert and James Murdoch was true, she said: “No, they could speak to each other.
“I reported both to James and Rupert Murdoch and I would talk to them both about the issues unfolding at News International.
“James and I had offices next door to each other. I would be talking to Mr Murdoch every day.
“And if Vanity Fair wants to couch that as a go-between, then fine, but I don’t accept the premise of what they are insinuating.”