News International's Rebekah Brooks 'won't resign'

Rebekah Brooks The chief executive of News International is expected to say she wasn't involved in hacking

This story was originally published at 0810 BST on 5 July 2011.

Rebekah Brooks is not planning to resign as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's UK operations, I have learned - even though the voicemails of Milly Dowler's mobile phone were allegedly intercepted at the instigation of the News of the World when she was editor of the Sunday tabloid in 2002.

Later today she is expected to tell staff at News International, the UK arm of Mr Murdoch's News Corporation, that she is deeply shocked by the allegations, which News International has been working through the night to substantiate.

However she insists that she was not involved in that instance of alleged phone hacking, or others, and knew nothing about it.

Ms Brooks has spoken to Rupert Murdoch, and is under no pressure from him to stand down.

"He is backing her 100%", said a News International executive - who insisted that it was only under her tenure as News International's chief executive that the company had resolved to uncover what had gone wrong in the past and to deliver all relevant documents and information to the police.

She remains in charge of the process of assisting the police in their enquiries, known as Operation Weeting, to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against those journalists implicated in hacking mobile phones and other invasions of individuals' right to privacy.

"She is committed to find out the truth of what happened here and leading the company through this difficult time" said one of her colleagues.

"Her job is to see this through".

Executives from News International are meeting the police at 9.30 this morning, for what they say is the 50th or so meeting with officers since they began their enquiries.

Update, 09:24: The prime minister has this morning made these comments about the allegations that the News of the World hacked into Milly Dowler's voicemails in 2002:

"On the question of the really appalling allegations about the telephone of Milly Dowler, if they are true, this is a truly dreadful act and a truly dreadful situation. What I have read in the papers is quite, quite shocking, that someone could do this actually knowing that the police were trying to find this person and trying to find out what had happened, and we all now know the tragedy that took place."

Andy Coulson Mr Coulson stepped down as editor of the Sunday tabloid in 2007

There is of course an uncomfortable feedback loop from the latest disclosures of alleged hacking to the prime minister - in that the deputy editor of the News of the World in 2002 was Andy Coulson, who became editor of the News of the World in 2003, and who also served as Mr Cameron's communications director until he resigned in January.

Mr Coulson will now be pressed to disclose whether he was aware of the alleged interception and deletion of voicemail messages left on Milly Dowler's phone.

Some will say that he and Rebekah Brooks are damned if they did know and damned if they didn't - in that as the most senior editors of the News of the World, they should have made enquiries about how sensitive information was obtained.

What Steve Hewlett pointed out this morning on the Today programme is that there is an important difference between Mr Coulson and Ms Brooks, which is that he resigned from News International all those years ago after the original revelations about how a private detective, Glen Mulcaire, used illicit techniques to obtain private information about prominent individuals.

Ms Brooks is impregnable in her position, while she has the full backing of Mr Murdoch - who has asked her to steer News International through this crisis.

What is important in this context is that News Corporation, owner of News International, is no ordinary public company - in that (to state the blindingly obvious) Mr Murdoch wields considerably more power within the organisation than is typical of a public-company boss.

And, as colleagues of them both have told me over many months, Mr Murdoch and Ms Brooks have a remarkable and close working relationship. "In some ways I would say she is as close to him as his children" said one.

Update, 12:25: Rebekah Brooks has confirmed she is not stepping down as chief executive of News International.

In a statement to News International staff she said: "I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened. Not just because I was Editor of the News of the World at the time, but if the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowlers family is unforgivable."

Milly Dowler Milly Dowler's family will pursue a claim for damages against the News of the World

She added: "It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way.

"If the allegations are proved to be true then I can promise the strongest possible action will be taken as this company will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour.

"I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations."

She disclosed that she has written to the family of Milly Dowler, pledging to vigorously investigate the allegations that the News of the World hacked into the murdered teenager's mobile phone - and to communicate the results of the investigation to them before anyone else.

Its executives tell me they are not contesting the basic facts, as set out in yesterday's online story in the Guardian.

"We are working on the assumption that it is basically true", said one. "We have learned a good deal more about this from our own enquiries overnight."

Ms Brooks added: "It is important you all know that as Chief Executive, I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues. We will face up to the mistakes and wrongdoing of the past and we will do our utmost to see that justice is done and those culpable will be punished."

Update, 13:56: News International executives tell me they fear there may have been worse examples of alleged hacking by the News of the World than that of Milly Dowler's mobile phone. The mind reels.

Update, 17:00: As I understand it, the Metropolitan Police are also probing an allegation that the News of the World instigated the hacking of the mobile phone of Leslie Chapman, father of Jessica Chapman, one of the schoolgirls murdered at Soham in 2002.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    260 I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment, I long since stopped rewarding any of the tabloids or celebrity/reality (which by the very nature distorts it) driven media with any custom whatsoever.
    If you removed all this from our media I expect people would be shocked at the paucity of what was left behind as culture.

    Good on Ford for doing something by removing money from them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Buntyboo: A lot of comments have been removed ... I'd love to read what these people are actually writing here about Murdoch and his involvement in this hacking scandal. There's a high risk of a cover up by all parties involved.



    This is only because this is about a live police investigation - I suspect that the mods now have a lawyer permanently in their office for this one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Robert - you have successfully damaged your reputation! Since when have your blogs become rehashed NI press releases?

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Those of you who think this sounds like a press release from NI, you should learn to read!

    It is a simple straight bit of reporting staying within legal limits. For a change it is nice to read a list of facts in chronological order rather than being buried under over opinionated hyperbole.

    Keep with the updates, Robert!

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    3nlight3n: A lot of hot air surrounding this scandal.
    This will soon blow over and nothing will change


    Well, the story has had legs for four years now and just keeps getting bigger.

    You may want to catch up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    It should be noted that the private investigator concerned is just one of HUNDREDS who earn a really good income out of Fleet street - and the technology is available to all of them

    If all the stories so far are around just this one PI, imagine how many people have been hacked by the entire industry for the British media?

    This is just the tip of a HUGE iceberg

    Scary, huh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    I read someone suggesting the Telegraph might now regret the scoop on 'Vince' - but of course he also targeted the banks for 'action' and tory-backed bankers would not of course stand for this - hence the Telegraph nobbling scoop. Poor Vince - right ideas, just a bit naive. With reagrd to the NoW - an editors defence of not knowing what was going on with 'phone tapping will not wash - resign !

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    I suspect that the amount of comments being removed is in direct proportion to the amount of valium being consumed by BBC lawyers over this entire topic.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    A lot of comments have been removed because they don't meet the house rules - I'd love to read what these people are actually writing here about Murdoch and his involvement in this hacking scandal. There's a high risk of a cover up by all parties involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    When i was young i pitted the horse for being a horse , now how i envy that horse for being a horse
    The more i see and hear the angrier i become with the human race

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    As stated by many other readers : it is either incompetence, lies or a lack of telling the truth. She should resign and the company fined very heavily and forced to sell some of their businesses. I, for one, do not trust them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    At the very least the Government should hold a full public enquiry into all these confirmed and alleged hacking incidents. in the meantime Ms Wade should seriously consider her position - then resign!

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    "This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules"
    Who the hell is the Editor of this blog today.....Murdoch?

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    If these allegations are true, then this has got to go to the top otherwise what is the purpose of having an Editor of a newspaper.
    Surely, the role of an Editor is to oversee and coordinate the news operation and give the paper editorial direction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Rebekah Brooks says in her letter to staff that "News International will vigorously pursue the truth" in this matter.

    I just don't believe her for a minute.


  • Comment number 282.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    #271 wotwib
    An old union branch secretary told me that the only thing that interests the average member is BBC.
    Beer, backy and

    I am beginning to believe him.
    NOTW have realized this for years however.
    Does this make them clever, or just sad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    5 Minutes ago

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

    What - did I hack into someone's phone to obtain the information?


    What ever happened to 'publish and be dammed' eh? Does that only apply to illegally obtained information?

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.


    I love a man who can recall history - especially when it demonstrates the hyporiscy of media hacks - who proport to be 'guardians of the truth'.

    How much more can you all take? how many times does the arrogance of the powerful have to be waved in your face before you move to do something about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    "Personally she should be sacked. (as should the babyp woman)"

    You are a witch hunter - satisfied with a sacrifice regardless of whether the person was at fault or not. Ed Balls still has a job - why? He was incompetent (and now illegal) - but no action taken? mmmmm

    This is why Murdoch will survive - because people like you don't want to ruffle the top feathers.


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