London: Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch’s most senior newspaper executive in Britain and close confidante, quit News Corp on Friday over a phone hacking scandal that has rocked his global media empire.
Murdoch’s company had repeatedly backed Brooks to remain as chief executive of the company’s British newspaper arm despite her being editor of the tabloid at the heart of the scandal when some of the gravest offences were alleged to have occurred.
However her position became untenable after the company shut the News of the World tabloid, with many of the journalists saying they were losing their jobs just to protect hers. Politicians across the spectrum had also said she should go.
“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,” she wrote in a message to staff.
“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 will be replaced by Sky Italia chief executive Tony Mockridge, News Corp said.
Brooks and Rupert and James Murdoch are due to appear before a powerful parliamentary committee next Tuesday to answer questions on the alleged criminality at the paper.
Brooks said the move would give her freedom and time to give her full cooperation to current and future inquiries, police investigations and the appearance before the parliamentary committee for culture, media and sport.
Analysts have pointed out that were Brooks to go, the focus of attention could turn to James, son of Rupert and heir apparent of News Corp, over his handling of the scandal.
Prime Minister David Cameron, a close friend of Brooks, had earlier said he would have accepted her resignation if she had offered it.