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It was at the meal that Lord Mandelson was reported to have ‘dripped pure poison’ about Gordon Brown, leading to a furious political row.A recent profile of Mr and Mrs Brooks in Vanity Fair magazine described a typical day in their married life: ‘When Charlie Brooks wakes up in the mornings in his barn in Oxfordshire, he likes nothing better than to fly to Venice from Oxford airport with... The encounter sparked rumours that the pair were plotting against Gordon Brown.Freud is as close to Mr Blair as he is to the current occupant of No 10.Also on board were singer Billy Joel and Mr and Mrs Brooks.The Freuds’ yacht, the Elisabeth F, was moored nearby.Only in recent months, according to mutual friends, have relations ‘thawed’, allowing Ms Whetstone to edge back into the Cameron clique.
The most spectacular in recent years was Elisabeth Murdoch’s 40th birthday, held at the priory in October 2008.
Their friendship was described by one associate in these intimate terms: ‘He [Blair] parties with Liz and Matthew.
When Cherie’s out of town, he often turns up in his jeans, often with Rebekah, to the house in Notting Hill and the house they’ve got in Oxfordshire. She is less liked by that crowd.’Other guests at Mrs Brooks’s wedding included Gordon Brown; Rupert Murdoch; his son James, the deputy chief operating officer at News Corp; Les Hinton, the former News International chairman who now runs Murdoch-owned Dow Jones, publishers of the Wall Street Journal; and Top Gear presenter and Sun columnist Jeremy Clarkson, whose £1.5 million Chipping Norton estate was where Mr and Mrs Brooks first met.
It is Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron’s controversial, shaven-headed political guru.
He and his formidable wife, Google communications chief Rachel Whetstone, who used to run ex-Tory leader Michael Howard’s office and was once a central part of the Camerons’ social network, bought a £2 million barn conversion close to Burford four years ago. Until Mr Coulson’s downfall, he and Mr Hilton were rivals for Mr Cameron’s ear, with the pair frequently clashing over policy and strategy.
Despite rumours that he was also hunting for a house in Oxfordshire, Mr Coulson and his wife and family remained in South London – giving Mr Hilton valuable weekend access to the party leader.