Wednesday 25 April 2018

Embattled News International chief Rebekah Brooks quits reporters

Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International who was editor of the News of the World at the time of phone hacking, finally resigned today after 10 days of unrelenting pressure.

News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch had resisted all efforts to have her removed – including statements from British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Milliband to let her go.

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Mr Cameron welcomed the move today describing it as the “right decision.”

Mr Miliband, said he was "satisfied" with the departure of Rebekah Brooks from News International.

The news of her resignation came after both Mr Murdoch and his son James caved in and agreed to attend a British Government culture, media and sport Government committee hearing next week as the phone hacking scandal rumbles on.

Ms Brooks has also agreed to attend the hearing.

In the US, Murdoch senior is also is facing growing calls for an inquiry in the US after senators questioned whether News Corporation had engaged in "criminal" activity in America, including the possibility that the relatives of 9/11 victims had their phones hacked.

In a statement today Ms Brooks said: “We have been leading the news for the wrong reasons. As chief executive I feel a deep sense of responsibility to the people we have hurt. Rupert’s wisdom has guided me through my career. I am proud to have been part of the finest media company in the world.

“I leave with the happiest of memories and an abundance of friends.”

Last week, when she offered to resign, James Murdoch, chairman of News International refused the offer saying: “We are confident of her standard of ethics throughout her career which are exemplerary.”

Today Mr Murdoch said: “She has been one of the outstanding editors of her generation and she can be proud of many accomplishments as an executive

I understand her decision and I want to thank her for her 22 years of service to the Company.”

Rupert Murdoch earlier this week dropped his £8bn bid for BskyB amid growing public outrage at the tactics used by NOTW including hacking the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

In a rare appearance at the British House of Commons, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown broke his silence on Wednesday with a righteous fury, launching a sustained attack upon Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers and their actions.

He spoke out against the News Corp founder and his besieged clan, accusing them of systematic criminality, collusion with “the underworld” and the abuse of the vulnerable. In only his second Commons speech since leaving Downing Street, Mr Brown also sought to portray David Cameron and the Conservatives as willing helpers of Mr Murdoch, and perhaps even complicit in his retainers’ wrongdoing.

The Sun newspaper subsequently rigorously denied claims that it had hacked into the medical records of Mr Brown’s son Fraser to reveal he had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and said the information came from a family friend.

Ms Brooks (43) was editor of the News of the World in 2002 when the Milly Dowler phone hacking occurred and during the time that the phones of relatives of two children murdered in Soham were also hacked. She subsequently became editor of The Sun and then chief executive of News International.

Sky News announced by tweet that News Corporation had appointed Sky italia's Tom Mockridge as its new Chief Executive of News International.

Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant, who has been a leading critic over the phone-hacking scandal, said Mrs Brooks should have left before.

“I think it is right that she goes. I think she should have gone a very long time ago. Frankly, she should have gone when she said she had paid police officers for information back in 2003."

I thought it was disgraceful when the newspaper last week was closed as a way of trying to protect Rebekah Brooks and then Mr Murdoch saying that she was his priority.

It felt like those in the boiler room were carrying the can for those who were really at the helm of the ship.”

Meanwhile, Murdoch Snr will place ads in tomorrow’s newspapers to apologise for the News of the World’s “serious wrongdoing”.

The media tycoon will personally say he is “deeply sorry” for the hurt suffered by people affected by the phone tapping scandal.

The ads will run in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Sun and Times, News International said.

Rebekah Brooks statement in full:

“At News International we pride ourselves on setting the news agenda for the right reasons. Today we are leading the news for the wrong ones.

The reputation of the company we love so much, as well as the press freedoms we value so highly, are all at risk.

As Chief Executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place.

I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.

This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past.

Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted.

Rupert’s wisdom, kindness and incisive advice has guided me throughout my career and James is an inspirational leader who has shown me great loyalty and friendship.

I would like to thank them both for their support. I have worked here for 22 years and I know it to be part of the finest media company in the world.

News International is full of talented, professional and honourable people. I am proud to have been part of the team and lucky to know so many brilliant journalists and media executives.

I leave with the happiest of memories and an abundance of friends.

As you can imagine recent times have been tough. I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive.

My resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations and the CMS appearance.

I am so grateful for all the messages of support. I have nothing but overwhelming respect for you and our millions of readers. I wish every one of you all the best.”


News Corporation's chief executive in Europe James Murdoch sent the following message to News International staff:

“I am writing to update you on the actions we have been taking as a company to solve the problems at News International relating to the News of the World, in addition to continuing to co-operate fully and actively with the police and settling civil claims.

Earlier today, Rebekah Brooks resigned from her position as CEO. I understand her decision and I want to thank her for her 22 years of service to the company. She has been one of the outstanding editors of her generation and she can be proud of many accomplishments as an executive. We support her as she takes this step to clear her name;

We have created an independent Management & Standards Committee and I want to emphasise its importance. The Committee has direct governance and oversight from News Corporation Board members and is codifying standards that will be clear and enforced;

We made the difficult and necessary decision to close the News of the World;

A number of other executives have now left the company;

News Corporation also withdrew its proposal to acquire the shares in BSkyB it does not own. This is a strong signal that our top priority in the UK is to address the issues facing News International.

Looking to the future, I am also pleased to tell you that Tom Mockridge will become CEO of News International. Tom is in London today and will start right away. Tom is a highly respected and accomplished media executive who has served as CEO of Sky Italia since its launch in 2003. Tom, who has also been in charge of our European Television business, started his career as a newspaper journalist in New Zealand and he has held a range of top roles in the newspaper industry. The creation of TG-24, Italy's only truly independent 24 hours news channel, is a credit to Tom's leadership and integrity.

This weekend, News International will run advertisements in all national newspapers. We will apologise to the nation for what has happened. We will follow this up in the future with communications about the actions we have taken to address the wrongdoing that occurred.

We are also sending letters to our commercial partners with an update on the actions we are taking.

Next week, my father and I will appear before the CMS Select Committee and will speak to them directly about our determination to put things right.

The company has made mistakes. It is not only receiving appropriate scrutiny, but is also responding to unfair attacks by setting the record straight.

I would like to conclude by saying thank you. Throughout this time, you have gotten out great papers every day and have stayed focused. I am deeply grateful for that.”

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