News / Europe

Murdoch British Media Empire Chief Resigns

Chief Executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks ( file photo)
Chief Executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks ( file photo)

A key British executive of Rupert Murdoch's global media empire has resigned amid the firestorm over the phone-hacking and police bribery scandal that has triggered investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Rebekah Brooks stepped down Friday as chief executive of News International, the British subsidiary of Murdoch's News Corporation.  Brooks was a former editor of News of the World, the tabloid at the center of the scandal.  Murdoch abruptly shut down News of the World last week after revelations it had illegally obtained voicemail or text messages of private citizens, including a murdered teenager and the families of dead soldiers.

Why she made decision

In a statement released Friday, Brooks said her "desire to remain on the bridge," is drawing attention from the company's "honest endeavors" to fix the problems of the past.  She will be replaced by Tom Mockridge, the head of News Corporation's Sky Italia television unit.  

James and Rupert Murdoch (C) and a minder leave the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, central London July 10, 2011.
James and Rupert Murdoch (C) and a minder leave the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, central London July 10, 2011.

Brooks has agreed to testify before the British parliament next week about the phone hacking and police bribery scandal that has also forced Murdoch to abandon his $12-billion bid to acquire full control of British Sky Broadcasting, a satellite television company.  Murdoch and his son James, who heads News Corporation's international operations, will also testify before parliament next week, after initially refusing to do so.  

US inquiry

In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun a probe into whether News Corporation employees tried to hack into the phones of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and their families, or tried to bribe police for information.

The probe was started after Congressman Peter King, who represents the New York district where many of the 3,000 victims of the September 11 attacks lived, asked the FBI to investigate.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters in Australia Friday the Justice Department has received a number of requests from lawmakers to look into the allegations involving News Corporation, and is "progressing in that regard" through the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Media ownership

Murdoch's company has several lucrative news and entertainment outlets in the U.S., including the country's top business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, and a major television news outlet, Fox News Channel.

Meanwhile, British police have arrested a ninth suspect in connection with the phone-hacking scandal.  He is Neil Wallis, the 60-year-old former executive editor of the News of the World who left the paper in 2009 and is now a public relations executive.  Wallis was held on "suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications."

Wallis was the deputy editor of the newspaper under Andy Coulson from 2003 to 2007.  Coulson, the communications director for British Prime Minister David Cameron from 2007 until earlier this year, was arrested in the investigation earlier this month.

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