News International's Brooks quits, replaced by Mockridge

15th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International, resigned Friday amid the phone-hacking scandal and will be replaced by Sky Italia chief executive Tom Mockridge, News Corp. said.

"I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place," said Brooks in a message sent to staff announcing her resignation.

"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."

Calls had been mounting for Brooks, 43, to quit as the phone-hacking controversy gathered pace.

She was editor of the News of the World, which was axed last week amid growing allegations of hacking, from 2000-2003, and went on to edit The Sun, Britain's biggest selling newspaper.

Pressure grew after it emerged that during her editorship a private investigator working for the paper allegedly hacked into the phone of a murdered teenager, a move that gave her family false hope she was alive.

Brooks has denied all knowledge of phone hacking on her watch at the paper.

In her message to staff, she praised News International -- the company she joined as a secretary 22 years ago -- as "part of the finest media company in the world."

"News International is full of talented, professional and honourable people. I am proud to have been part of the team and lucky to know so many brilliant journalists and media executives."

But she admitted that "recent times have been tough", following a fortnight of rapidly escalating crisis at News Corp. which led to Murdoch withdrawing his bid for British satellite channel BSkyB.

"I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive," she said.

Brooks added she would now have the time to "give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations", as well as the appearance before a committee of British lawmakers on Tuesday.

Brooks, Rupert and James Murdoch agreed to testify to parliament's media committee over the hacking scandal amid fierce pressure from lawmakers.

A News Corp. statement confirmed her replacement would be Mockridge, the current chief executive of TV channel Sky Italia. Both News International and Sky Italia are part of Murdoch's News Corp.

"Mr Mockridge will assume responsibility for his new role with immediate effect following the resignation of Rebekah Brooks," said the statement.

James Murdoch, Rupert's son and deputy in his media empire, said in a statement: "Tom is an outstanding executive with unrivalled experience across our journalism and television businesses."

"I believe that Tom is the best person to move the company forward to a brighter future," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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