Brooks Blair
Tony Blair allegedly told Rebekah Brooks he could act as an 'unofficial adviser' to her and the Murdochs Reuters

Former prime minister Tony Blair advised Rebekah Brooks on how to protect the Murdoch family from the phone hacking scandal following the closure of the News of the World, a court has heard.

The jury in the phone hacking trial was shown an email between Brooks and James Murdoch in which Blair allegedly offered to be an "unofficial adviser" to the Murdochs and the former NotW editor.

Brooks said Blair advised her to launch a "Hutton-style report" – a reference to an inquiry into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly - which would clear James Murdoch of any wrongdoing in the wake of the fallout.

The email said Blair gave Brooks the advice during an hour-long phone conversation the pair had on on 11 July 2011, the day after the News International-owned NotW paper closed and six days before she was arrested on phone hacking accusations.

Blair advised Brooks that she should not seek any "rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches". He added she needs to "tough up" and take sleeping pills to help her cope.

The email was read out at the Old Bailey during the conclusion of the prosecution's case. The email from Brooks to the then-executive chairman of News International James Murdoch contained five key points allegedly from Blair:

1. "Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton-style report."

2. "Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over."

3. "Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches."

4. "It will pass. Tough up."

5. "He [Blair] is available for you, KRM [Rupert Murdoch] and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us."

Blair's office was forced to issue a statement in response to the court proceedings, which admitted Blair had counselled Brooks but said it was merely "informal advice".

The statement said: "This was Mr Blair simply giving informal advice over the phone.

"He made it absolutely clear to Ms Brooks that, though he knew nothing personally about the facts of the case, in a situation as serious as this it was essential to have a fully transparent and independent process to get to the bottom of what had happened.

"That inquiry should be led by credible people, get all the facts out there and that if anything wrong were found there should be immediate action taken and the changes to the organisation made so that they could not happen again."

Murdoch's flagship tabloid The Sun famously switched alliances to Blair's new Labour in the run-up to the 1997 general election.

Brooks is one of several people, including former NotW editor and government spin doctor Andy Coulson, on trial for phone hacking charges.

All defendants deny the charges against them.

The trial continues.