Rebekah Brooks resigns, succumbs to pressure from phone hacking scandal
That was an abrupt shift in tone from Rupert Murdoch's comments Thursday to The Wall Street Journal — one of his own papers — saying that News Corp. management had handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible" with just a few "minor mistakes."
Brooks has been in charge of News International's four British newspapers since 2007, following a four-year stint as editor of the market-leading daily tabloid, The Sun. Just a week ago, she faced 200 angry employees of News of the World who had lost their jobs when Murdoch shut down the paper amid the scandal.
The news of her resignation was greeted with relief.
"It is right that Rebekah Brooks has finally taken responsibility for the terrible events that happened on her watch, like the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone," said opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who had been demanding that she quit. "No one in this country should exercise power without responsibility."
"(It is) the right decision," said Steve Field, a spokesman for Cameron who had also called for Brooks to resign.
Brooks agreed Thursday to answer questions next week from a U.K. parliamentary committee. Rupert and James Murdoch initially resisted, but also agreed to appear after the committee raised the stakes by issuing formal summonses.
Police have arrested seven people in their investigation of phone hacking, and two others in a parallel investigation of alleged bribery of police officers for information.
Appearing before another parliamentary committee in 2003, Brooks had been asked whether News of the World or The Sun had ever paid police for information.
"We have paid the police for information in the past," she said.
Asked if she would do it again, she said: "It depends."
Andy Coulson, then the editor of News of the World who was arrested last week in the hacking investigation, interrupted to say: "We operate within the (press) code and within the law and if there is a clear public interest then we will."
In an example of the cozy ties between the British press and politicians, Coulson was Cameron's communications chief before resigning in January.
Murdoch flew into London last weekend to take charge of the response to the mushrooming phone scandal. Asked by reporters what his priority was, Murdoch gestured to Brooks and said, "This one."
In her statement Friday, Brooks thanked the Murdochs for their support.
"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," she said.
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