Though you wouldn't know it from picking up some British newspapers today, the fact that one-time News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was loaned a retired police horse wasn't that a big deal. But that didn't stop The Telegraph and The Guardian, among others, from badgering Prime Minister David Cameron into admitting he'd ridden the mare with his old classmate Charlie Brooks, who just happens to be Rebekah's husband.
"Before the election I did go riding with him," Cameron said at a press conference after several days of 10 Downing wavering on giving an answer. "He has a number of different horses and yes one of them was this former police horse Raisa, which I did ride.” (The Guardian's Nicholas Watt and Hélène Mulholland also quoted an unnamed source who paints an indelible image as he or she tried to show that Cameron and Brooks weren't that close: "The prime minister does not wear pyjamas on the back of a horse.")
The thing is, London's Metropolitan Police Service routinely lends retired horses to willing caretakers, among them the late Raisa, which we learned Monday was given to the Brooks family in 2008. Still, many took it as a sign of the too-cosy relationship between government and media (News Corp. in particular) with the scandal gaining its own official (and totally predictable) "-gate" suffix among the non-Murdoch media. Who did or didn't ride Raisa seems like a small thing to be wasting reporters' shoe leather on, especially with Europe facing weightier issues (News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch certainly thinks so), but it's hard to blame reporters for looking for dirt considering Rebekah Brooks was arrested as part of News International's phone-hacking scandal. At least today Cameron can move on to trying to save Europe.