Scotland Yard loaned Rebekah Brooks a police horse, the Standard can reveal.The 43-year-old former News International chief executive rode the retired horse for a year at her farm in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire before it was put out to pasture.
The loan, made in 2008 while Lord Blair was Met Commissioner, is likely to raise fresh questions about the close relationship between the police and the Murdoch media empire.
Most of the Met's police horses are retired with The Horse Trust charity in Buckinghamshire.
Brooks, a keen rider, is married to racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks. A friend said: "Rebekah acted as a foster carer for the horse. Anybody can agree to do this with the Met if they have the land and facilities to pay for its upkeep."
The Leveson inquiry into press ethics has heard that the relationship between News International and the Met was "at best inappropriately close and at worst corrupt".
The inquiry also heard yesterday how the Met tipped off Brooks in 2006 about the original phone-hacking investigation at the News of the World, where she was editor from 2000 to 2003.
It has been claimed that Brooks, who was forced to resign from News International in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, was a horse-riding companion of Prime Minister David Cameron but she denies this.
Lord Blair said he was not aware of the gift.
Brooks's spokesman, David Wilson, from Bell Pottinger confirmed the deal took place. "Rebekah acted as a foster carer for the horse."
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman added: "When a police horse reaches the end of its working life, Mounted Branch officers find it a suitable retirement home. Whilst responsibility for feeding the animal and paying vet bills passes to the person entrusted with its care, the horse remains the property of the Metropolitan Police Service.
"Retired police horses are not sold on and can be returned to the care of the MPS at any time. In 2008 a retired horse was loaned to Rebekah Brooks. The horse was re-housed with a police officer in 2010."