British Prime Minister David Cameron signed texts to ex-Rupert Murdoch aide Rebekah Brooks "lots of love" and privately discussed the News of the World scandal with her, she told an inquiry Friday.
In her eagerly-awaited testimony at the Leveson Inquiry into British press ethics, she said Cameron also commiserated with her after she resigned as chief executive of Murdoch's British newspaper wing News International last July.
The red-haired 43-year-old was arrested two days after her resignation over allegations of phone-hacking and bribing public officials. She and her husband were rearrested in March on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
As the inquiry probed the extent of the ties between Murdoch and Downing Street, Brooks said she used to exchange text messages around once a week with Cameron, rising to twice a week in the run-up to elections in 2010.
"He would sign them off DC in the main," said Brooks, giggling slightly. "Occasionally he would sign them off 'LOL', lots of love, until I told him it meant 'laugh out loud'."
Brooks said Conservative leader Cameron had been friends for years with the family of her second husband, racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, a fellow pupil at the elite boarding school Eton.
She said Cameron asked her about phone hacking during a conversation in 2010, after a series of celebrities sued the News of the World over the interception of their mobile phone voicemails.
"I think he asked me what the update was, I think it had been on the news that day, so I explained the story behind the news. No secret information, no privileged information, just a general update," she said.
Once dubbed Murdoch's "fifth daughter" because of their closeness, Brooks edited the now-defunct News of the World from 2000 to 2003 and quit News International in 2011 after the hacking scandal erupted.
Asked about a report in The Times that Cameron had sent an SMS saying "keep your head up" after her resignation, Brooks said she had received an "indirect" message from him.
"I don't think they were the exact words but that was the gist. It was indirect," she said.
The former Murdoch protegee said she also received indirect messages from Cameron's Downing Street office and from the offices of finance minister George Osborne, interior minister Theresa May and foreign minister William Hague.
Murdoch, the Australian-born chairman of US-based News Corp., shut the News of the World in July 2011 after it emerged that it had illegally accessed the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl as well as dozens of public figures.
Brooks admitted Friday that she had discussions with both Cameron and Osborne about News Corp.'s bid to take full control of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
In a potentially damaging development, the inquiry saw an email to Brooks from a News Corp. lobbyist saying that culture minister Jeremy Hunt had asked for private advice to "guide his and No 10's positioning" about whether the hacking scandal would affect the BSkyB bid.
Hunt's adviser resigned last month after admitting that he had gone beyond his remit in his dealings with the lobbyist, Frederic Michel, in emails that emerged when Murdoch's son James testified to the inquiry.
Hunt has rejected calls to quit and says that when he is mentioned in Michel's emails the lobbyist is referring to aides in his ministry, and not to him.
Brooks was greeted by a pantomime horse as she arrived at the inquiry chaired by senior judge Brian Leveson -- a reference to the fact that Cameron has admitted riding a horse lent to Brooks by Scotland Yard.
The Camerons and the Brookses are neighbours in the premier's constituency in rural Oxfordshire, forming part of what is dubbed the "Chipping Norton Set," a group of the rich and powerful who live near the village of the same name.
Former Cameron spokesman and News of the World editor Andy Coulson -- who is also on police bail after being arrested over the hacking and bribery allegations -- testified at the inquiry on Thursday.