July 22, 2024

Rebekah Brooks Resigns From Murdoch’s British Subsidiary

Her resignation came a day after Mr. Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, and his son James reversed themselves and said they would testify next week before a parliamentary panel probing the cascading scandal over phone hacking that has forced the closure of The News of the World tabloid and the collapse of a $12 billion bid to assume full control of Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster.

Until the scandal erupted, Ms. Brooks, 43, had been a star within News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, editing two influential tabloids and rising rapidly to head the division. British analysts described her as enjoying the status of a favored daughter, with close ties not only to the Murdoch family but also to leading politicians.

But her resignation had seemed ever more likely as police arrested some of her former colleagues, politicians on the benches of Parliament demanded her resignation, the price of stock in Murdoch holdings faltered and investors voiced concern. Late Thursday, BBC television broadcast an interview with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, identified as News Corporation’s second biggest shareholder, in which he said that if Ms. Brooks was involved in wrongdoing “for sure she has to go.”

Ms. Brooks, who has denied that she knew of the phone hacking while she was editor of The News of the World, said in an e-mail to her staff, “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 endeavors 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.”

She was replaced by Tom Mockridge, the head of Sky Italia, News Corporation’s Italian satellite broadcaster.

Prime Minister David Cameron, once regarded as a personal friend of Ms. Brooks, but who later followed opposition leader Ed Miliband in demanding her resignation, said she had made “the right decision.”

The move came at a sensitive juncture as the Murdoch family shifts to a more assertive posture to try to limit the damage from what has become its most serious crisis of credibility. James Murdoch said on Friday that News International would place advertisements in all British national newspapers at the weekend “to apologize to the nation for what has happened.”

Additionally, Rupert and James Murdoch abandoned efforts on Thursday to avoid scrutiny next week by a parliamentary panel investigating the scandal, saying they would testify before Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport, which is the main parliamentary panel investigating the phone hacking. Mr. Cameron has called for a separate inquiry to be headed by a senior judge.

Former staff members at The News of the World questioned why she had not resigned earlier. “Our paper was sacrificed to save her career, and now she’s gone as well,” one former employee said, requesting anonymity because he did not wish to jeopardize his position in severance negotiations following the newspaper’s closure. “Who knows why they’ve chosen to do it now, as she’ll have to appear before the select committee anyway.”

Others faulted News Corporation for what they called a slow and piecemeal response to the crisis. “This is too little too late,” said Michelle Stanistreet, the head of the National Union of Journalists. “This will be cold comfort to the hundreds of journalists who have lost their jobs at The News of the World.”

John F. Burns reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Ravi Somaiya from London.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e3a6dccab8e830cad56e8cd8dc1be839

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