She’s gone. After facing intense pressure to step down over the phone hacking scandal, Rebekah Brooks has at last resigned from her post as News International chief executive. Tom Mockridge of Sky Italia replaces Brooks.
Brooks has been the focus of public outrage since news broke that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s voicemail was allegedly hacked by The News of the World during here editorship. Few have quite comprehended how Brooks was able to hang on to her executive position when all The News of the World staffers lost their jobs.
The news comes as investigation into phone hacking on both sides of the Atlantic gears up and News Corp shareholders are becoming increasingly vocal in their criticism of how the Murdoch family has been running the embattled media empire.
It’s hard to interpret the loss of Brooks is anything other than another body blow to Rupert Murdoch. On the day that The News of the World shuttered he very publically gave his “total” support for Brooks, who many commentators insist he considers his fifth daughter. Others have speculated that Brooks was being kept on simply to act as a ‘firewall’ to protect James Murdoch, Rupert’s actual son, the current chief executive of News Corp in Europe and the possible next topper of News Corp.
- Brooks’ statement: It’s ‘right and responsible’ to go. “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.” You can read her full resignation letter here.
The news broke just before 10.00 on Friday via Twitter. “Rebekah Brooks has resigned… more soon,” tweeted the Times News Desk.
- ‘Red head on a platter’ should have come sooner. “It was the right decision but it came far too late,” sniped Roy Greenslade at The Guardian. “Rupert Murdoch should have requested her resignation on the day that he discovered she was editor of the News of the World when Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked. That revelation was so shocking in and by itself to have warranted her red head on a platter. The subsequent reports about the likely hacking of the relatives of other murder victims, 7/7 bombing casualties and of soldiers should have left Murdoch in no doubt about the need to fire his News International chief executive. Instead, he placed her in initial charge of the investigation into the very matters for which she had, by virtue of her editorship, been responsible for. It was a truly calamitous decision, making him and his hapless son, James, look decidedly foolish and weak-willed.”
- Brooks still has some firm friends in Wapping. ”I like Rebekah Brooks. She’s a good person, and I’m sad that she’s gone. And I don’t give a flying f–k what Twitter thinks,” tweeted The Times’ Giles Coren.
- Elizabeth Murdoch: ‘Brooks had ‘f—– the company.’ “Miss (Elizabeth) Murdoch, who is set to be given a seat on the board of her father’s News Corp empire, told friends that Mrs Brooks had ‘f—– the company,’” revealed John Bingham at The Daily Telegraph. “Her remarks represent the first breach in the show of solidarity around Mrs Brooks by the Murdoch family.” Elizabeth Murdoch recently rejoined News Corp when, in a £290 million deal, it took over Shine, her production company.
“It is right that Rebekah Brooks has resigned. No one should exercise power without responsibility,” commented Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has been outspoken in his condemnation of News International’s phone hacking.
- Shareholders did not back Brooks. Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, News Corp’s second largest shareholder, said Brooks should resign if there was any indication that she knew about the phone hacking taking place at The News of the World. He said: “I will not accept to deal with a company that has a lady or a man that has any sliver of doubts on her or his integrity.”
“I think it is right that she goes. I think she should have gone a very long time ago,” Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant told Sky News. “I thought it was disgraceful when the newspaper last week was closed as a way of trying to protect Rebekah Brooks and then Mr [Rupert] 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.”
- Blow for James? “Rebekah Brooks has resigned, which must be a huge blow to James Murdoch who said ‘no-one ‘ better placed to run News International,” tweeted influential media commentator Emily Bell, Director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. James Murdoch recently praised Brooks’ “standard of ethics and her standard of conduct throughout her career.”
“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,” promised James Murdoch in a letter to News International staff.