Rebekah Brooks returns as News Corp UK chief

  • 03/09/2015
Rebekah Brooks (Reuters)
Rebekah Brooks (Reuters)

British former tabloid news editor Rebekah Brooks, who resigned at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, will return to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp as chief executive of its UK division.

Brooks, who formerly edited The Sun and The News of the World, stepped down as chief executive in 2011 at the height of a scandal over the hacking of phone voice mails by journalists.

She was arrested on suspicion of being involved, but was cleared of all charges last year.

"Rebekah will lead a great team at News UK into the digital future, while maximising the influence and reach of our newspapers," said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp, on Wednesday.

The 47-year-old said she was "delighted to return to News UK".

"I am confident that we can meet the many challenges of this digital age with a combination of cutting-edge technologies and world class journalism," she said.

Brooks was initially reluctant to take the role but was persuaded by the Australian-born business magnate, with whom she has a close relationship, according to the Financial Times.

The move was criticised by campaign group Hacked Off, which represents victims of phone hacking.

"This is a major misjudgement of the public's mood by a company still ethically out of control," said joint executive director Evan Harris.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service is considering bringing corporate charges - meaning the prosecution of a company for wrongdoing - over phone hacking at News of the World, which was closed in 2011 due to public outcry.

Police can bring charges against a company, just like they can against a person, because a company is a legal entity.

The newspaper is at the centre of a police investigation into phone hacking called Operation Weeting.

"We have received a full file of evidence for consideration of corporate liability charges relating to the Operation Weeting phone hacking investigation," the CPS said.

The Metropolitan Police said the file had been submitted in July.

Britain's shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant - who was himself a victim of News of the World phone-hacking - on Wednesday said: "Rupert Murdoch has just stuck two fingers up to the British public and the thousands of people whose phones were hacked by News International."

"Hundreds of ordinary journalists lost their jobs when Mr Murdoch closed the News of the World, but it seems Rebekah Brooks is to get very special treatment.

"This decision is ludicrously premature when the Crown Prosecution Service is still considering corporate charges against News Corp, when the House of Commons Privileges Committee has still to rule on whether three News Corp executives lied to Parliament, as claimed by the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee when it was chaired by John Whittingdale, and when the Leveson Inquiry has to still to complete the second part of its work into the events at the News of the World."