Rebekah Brooks resigns from News International

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Logo of the News International group

Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, has resigned after two weeks of growing pressure over allegations of phone hacking at British tabloid newspaper the News of the World.

“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," Brooks, who formerly edited the NotW, said in a statement. Her resignation came amid mounting pressure from politicians for her resignation, and after Rupert Murdoch dropped his bid to take full control of BSkyB following growing public anger.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, said Brooks had made the “right decision” to leave her post. His spokesperson said: "Clearly there have been mistakes made. There are a lot of questions to answer.” Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party also welcomed the decision. “No one in this country should exercise power without responsibility,” he said. “[But] this is not just about one individual but about the culture of an organisation.”

Her resignation came as it emerged the FBI had launched an investigation into the alleged hacking of relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks on the United States by journalists at the NotW. The move amounts to the first time the scandal has spread outside of Britain, and analysts predict it might have widespread consequences for Murdoch.

Murdoch, the media giant at the head of News Corporation, the parent company of News International, has so far stood by Brooks. Analysts say the pressure for her resignation came to a head on Thursday night as Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, the Saudi prince who owns the second largest stake in News Corporation, questioned her “integrity”. He told the BBC: "For sure she has to go, you bet she has to go."

His comments followed the arrests of a number of NotW editors and reporters, and the closing of the tabloid in reaction to the phone hacking scandal that has erupted in the last two weeks following allegations that the voicemail of abducted and murdered teenager Milly Dowler was hacked into. It has also emerged that journalists at the NotW had been involved in the hacking of phones belonging to victims of the 7/7 attacks in London and relatives of British soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch has defended his handling of the scandal. "The company has made mistakes,” he said. “It is not only receiving appropriate scrutiny, but is also responding to unfair attacks by setting the record straight." It has also emerged today that News International is to take out large advertisements in British newspapers this weekend to apologise for what they describe as “wrongdoings” at the NotW.

Brooks worked for News International for 22 years and had also edited the daily tabloid paper The Sun. She will be replaced by Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of Sky Italia. Her announcement was made to staff at News International's offices in Wapping in East London.