David Cameron: I did ride ex-police horse lent to Rebekah Brooks
Prime minister confirms that before the election in 2010 he rode the horse lent by police to the former News of the World editor
David Cameron has confirmed that he did ride the horse lent by police to former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks.
Hopes that the prime minister could draw a line under his friendship with Brooks faded after his admission embroiled him in a story inevitably becoming known as Horsegate.
The prime minister apologised for allowing a "confusing picture" to emerge over recent days about his direct connection with the animal in question.
He told reporters in Brussels that the horse, Raisa, was among his mounts when he rode with his Etonian contemporary Charlie Brooks, the husband of the former News International chief executive, before the election in 2010.
"I have not been riding with him since the election. Before the election, yes, I did go riding with him," Cameron told journalists in Brussels.
"He has a number of horses and, yes, one of them was this former police horse Raisa, which I did ride."
It is not clear whether Cameron knew Raisa was a former Metropolitan police horse when he rode him.
He added: "I am very sorry to hear that Raisa is no longer with us and I think I should probably conclude by saying I don't think I will be getting back into the saddle any time soon."
No 10 sources had already indicated that there was a strong possibility Cameron had ridden on the retired Metropolitan police horse. The Brooks stables are said not to be vast and so there was a good chance that Cameron may have ridden Raisa.
Cameron had said on Thursday that it was "a matter of record" that he had gone riding with Charlie Brooks, a racehorse trainer whose stables are a central part of the "Chipping Norton set". The prime minister told 5 News: "He is a friend of mine for 30 years standing and a neighbour in my constituency so that's a matter of record, but since I have been prime minister I think I have been on a horse once and it wasn't that one."
One No 10 source said the prime minister's involvement in Horsegate was an illustration of the admission by Cameron earlier this year that politicians became too close to the media.
"We know that they were all too close," one source said. "We have all accepted that politicians and the media were too close."
The source said that the prime minister never went as far as Sarah Brown, who hosted a pyjama party for Rebekah Brooks in Downing Street. "The prime minister does not wear pyjamas on the back of a horse," the source said.
The prime minister's spokesman said that details of Cameron's meetings would be published, though he said he did not believe his horseriding with Brooks would be included.
"It was not a meeting," the spokesman said. "The prime minister does not have meetings on horses."