Rebekah Brooks, the charismatic former editor of the ‘News of the World’ who resigned in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in 2011 but was acquitted in court, is returning as the head of Rupert Murdoch’s UK operations from September 7, infuriating many.
The announcement, made in New York on Wednesday, was received with some outrage and incredulity in London, particularly by victims of the phone-hacking grouped under the Hacked Off campaign.
An angry shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant described her appointment as “two fingers up to the British public”. Brooks has also been editor of the mass circulation The Sun tabloid.
The News Of the World tabloid was closed following the phone-hacking revelations in 2011, which led to a series of inquiries into the workings of the British press, police and politics. Millions of pounds were made in compensation to victims, while some inquiries continue.
Evan Harris of the Hacked Off campaign said: “This could only happen in a dynastic company where normal rules of corporate governance simply do not apply….“Brooks’ reappointment is a major misjudgement of the national mood by a company still ethically out of control. It is no wonder the public are still demanding reform of press ownership rules and regulation.”
The News Corp statement in New York quoted chief executive Robert Thompson as saying: “Rebekah will lead a great team at News UK into the digital future, while maximising the influence and reach of our newspapers, which remain the most informative and successful in Britain and beyond”.
It added: “Her expertise, excellence and leadership will be crucial as we work to extend our relationship with readers and advertisers, and develop our digital platforms to take full advantage of our brilliant journalism”.
Brooks said: “I am delighted to return to News UK. It is a privilege to be back amongst the most talented journalists and executives in the business. I am confident that we can meet the many challenges of this digital age with a combination of cutting edge technologies and world class journalism”.
The News Corp statement added that Brooks “is returning to a post that she held four years ago, and will have added responsibilities for the acquisition and development of digital properties”.