Murdoch says chief Rebekah Brooks is his first priority


Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks emerge from his flat in Mayfair

News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch has said Rebekah Brooks is his first priority, after arriving in the UK to handle the News of the World phone-hacking crisis.

He flew into London on Sunday and went to News International (NI), which News Corp owns, for talks with executives.

He appeared later with Mrs Brooks, NI chief executive. Asked what his priority was, he said "this one" gesturing at her and smiling.

She has been under pressure about her former editorship of News of the World.

It was announced just last week that the paper would close, with its final edition hitting the shops this Sunday and about 200 people losing their jobs.

Mrs Brooks was the NoW editor in 2002 when voicemails on murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone were allegedly intercepted.

Full police co-operation

Milly's relatives will meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Monday to discuss the independent inquiries related to the phone-hacking scandal, before meeting Labour leader Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron later in the week.

Home Office minister Damian Green said their views on how the media should now be regulated would be carefully listened to.

Meanwhile, the BBC understands News International found e-mails in 2007 that appeared to show payments were made to police for information for stories.

The evidence of alleged criminal behaviour was not handed to the Metropolitan Police for investigation until 20 June, 2011, BBC business editor Robert Peston reported.

News International said it was "co-operating fully with the police".

Sources told our correspondent that the e-mails were in the possession of the firm of solicitors, Harbottle & Lewis, before being passed to detectives.

The e-mails appear to show Andy Coulson, editor of the News of the World from 2003-07, authorising payments to the police for help with stories, Peston reported.

'Lost our way'

And they also appear to show that phone-hacking went wider than the activities of a single rogue reporter, which News of the World claimed at the time.

Rupert Murdoch arrives, reading the News of the World Rupert Murdoch arrives at Wapping to take charge of the crisis

The last edition of the News of the World included a full-page apology for hacking mobile phones of hundreds of people, including Milly Dowler.

On Thursday, News International chairman James Murdoch, son of Rupert, announced the paper would be closing down in the wake of the latest revelations and in its final editorial the paper said: "Quite simply, we lost our way".

News International said James Murdoch had no knowledge of the e-mails that Harbottle & Lewis were asked to review.

The NoW doubled Sunday's print run to five million, with money from the sales being donated to four charities.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents said sales figures from its members suggested an average increase in sales at midday of more than 30% compared with the total sales from last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would force a Commons vote to delay News Corporation's proposed takeover of the whole of BSkyB, until the investigation into the NoW was completed.

Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police Brian Paddick is among those who will meet political leaders about the hacking this week. He said he did not find the revelations about police payments that surprising.

"Newspapers go to extraordinary lengths to protect their informants, whether they are police officers or not.

"So it shouldn't be any surprise that although they had evidence police officers were being paid for information, that they actually filed that information away four years ago, and it is only because of the pressure over the phone hacking they've actually produced this evidence so that the police can investigate."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    Yesterday Mr Murdoch was asked if he sitll had confidence in Ms Brookes. He answered - yes, I'm not going to throw innocent people under the bus. What did he think he had done to the 200 staff at NoW?

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Phone hacking is very hideous and shameful. But I was shocked to hear about the closure of the newspaper. Mr Murdoch has worked very hard and I love his energy. I do admire Rebbeka Brooks for not resigning! Why do we always call for people to resign??? hv u got another job for her? I see it as being vindictive and this is still to do with the blame culture we have cultured. Let police investigate

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Mr Murdoch's comment was arrogant and insulting - his first priority should have been to apologise to the families whose privacy etc were so disgracefully hacked into!

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    I'm all for investigative journalism, and I wouldn't condemn payments to the police (although I'd sack the officers concerned) or phone hacking (but not deleting messages on a missing persons mailbox) if they were actually investigating things that mattered. On the whole, anyone's sex life, even that of a politician or celebrity, is their business. Corruption and warmongering do matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Another nail in the coffin of print journalism.Not much of a sacrifice for Murdoch who knows well it has no future. Harder for the NOW staff who've been sacrificed with a chilling snap of the fingers. The NOW has led many brilliant campaigns . If anyone thinks that what's replacing journalism (ie the internet) is going to be a more reliable or ethical source of information, think again!


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