Staff confront British newspaper boss over closure

9th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was confronted by angry staff made jobless by the closure of the News of the World tabloid Friday, but she refused to resign over the phone hacking row.

In a secret recording of the meeting obtained by Sky News, where she was accused of having made the 168-year-old newspaper "toxic", Brooks vowed to restore the reputation of both the tabloid and its journalists.

"This is not exactly the best time in my life but I'm determined to get vindication for this paper and for people like you," she said.

Brooks was editor of the News of the World in 2002 when the hacking allegedly took place. She went on to edit its stablemate, The Sun, and is now chief executive of their parent company, News International, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In a shock announcement on Thursday, the group said it was closing the News of the World from next week because of the row, putting 200 jobs at risk.

An angry employee told Brooks on Friday: "Can't you see that by your actions yesterday, you're calling our newspaper toxic, we have all been contaminated by that toxicity, by the way we've been treated?".

She responded that it was a "very bad moment" but said she believed that in a year's time, after the police investigation, staff would understand.

"You think I should have resigned because we'd never have to close the News of the World. It's just not true," she said.

Insisting she knew nothing of the hacking, Brooks said: "I'm just as sorry as you are that people we trusted let us down. And that's the case.

"And if being betrayed is a resignation issue, well maybe I've just read it wrong, but I think I'm much more useful leading this company through this."

Brooks added that "eventually it will come out why things went wrong and who was responsible".

She said in a letter earlier that she would not be in charge of News International's internal investigation into the phone hacking, but it would be lead by executives working for Murdoch's News Corp in New York.

Brooks said it was "too soon" to discuss whether the group would open another Sunday newspaper.

"Yes, we're in a very bad moment but we will continue to invest in journalism," she added.

She also spoke to staff about having been a victim of phone hacking, saying police had told her in 2006 that she was one of the most frequent targets of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for the practice in 2007.

© 2011 AFP

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