Cleared of Phone Hacking, Rebekah Brooks to Return to News Corp.

September 2, 2015
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by Jason M. Breslow Digital Editor

Rebekah Brooks is back.

Four years after resigning from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. during the height of Britain’s phone hacking scandal, Brooks was named as chief executive of Murdoch’s news operation there — now named News UK.

The return, which becomes official on Monday, marks a striking reversal of fortune for Brooks, who rose from secretary to chief executive of News Corp. before stepping down in 2011.

Brooks was arrested and faced criminal charges stemming from revelations that News Corp. tabloids had been illegally intercepting and reporting the private voicemails of British citizens. The scandal erupted in July 2011 after The Guardian reported that a News of the World investigator had hacked into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, an abducted teenager who was later found murdered. At the time of the incident, Brooks served as editor of the since shuttered tabloid. She was acquitted in June 2014, though the scandal has reverberated and led to calls for broad media reform in Britain.

In a statement announcing the hire, News UK did not mention the phone hacking scandal specifically, but did note that she was “unanimously cleared by a jury of all charges related to investigations of various UK newspaper groups.” The statement also praised her “expertise, excellence and leadership.”

Outside of News UK, the announcement was greeted less warmly. Chris Bryant, a member of parliament who was compensated 30,000 British pounds by the company after it was revealed that he was a victim of phone hacking, called the hire “two fingers up to the British public.” Several hundred journalists “lost their jobs when Mr. Murdoch closed the News of the World,” said Bryant, “but it seems Rebekah Brooks is to get very special treatment.”

Related film: Murdoch’s Scandal

Inside the phone-hacking scandal that rocked a government and shook a media giant.

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