London: Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper operations, resigned Friday following days of mounting political pressure over a phone-hacking scandal.
Announcing her decision to News International staff, Brooks said her resignation has been accepted by Murdoch.
The News of the World tabloid, of which she is an ex-editor, is accused of hacking into phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians. Police identified 4,000 possible targets, causing owner Murdoch to order its closure. The paper, which had a run of 168 years, shut July 10.
In January 2007, royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were both jailed for plotting to intercept voice mail messages.
Mulcaire had hacked into teenage murder victim Milly Dowler’s mobile phone and then deleted messages.
The phone-hacking scandal caused an uproar in Britain and it led British Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday to tell parliament that a “firestorm” was engulfing parts of the media, and police and those who had committed the phone hacking offences must be prosecuted.
Cameron said Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation should stop thinking about mergers and “sort out the mess” they made over the phone hacking.
Brooks is to be replaced by the chief executive of Sky Italia, Tom Mockridge, who will take over immediately.
Brooks said she no longer wanted to be a “focal point of the debate” surrounding the company’s future and reputation, The Guardian reported.
She, however, stopped short of issuing a personal apology.
“As chief executive of the company, 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,” Brook said in a statement.
“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.”
It is not clear why Brooks’s resignation was accepted by the Murdochs, who had so far stood by her.
On Tuesday, Brooks also faced an appearance before MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee along with Rupert and James Murdoch to answer questions about the phone-hacking scandal.
In her statement Brooks said she wanted to clear her name as well as the company’s.
“My resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations and the CMS appearance.”