Rupert Murdoch’s trusted lieutenant Rebekah Brooks, once the most powerful woman in the British media, was yesterday cleared of phone hacking, corruption and conspiracy charges.
Though Brooks walked free, her successor as editor of the now disbanded News of the World, co-defendant Andy Coulson, was found guilty by the Old Bailey jury after a seven-month trial on charges of conspiracy to intercept phone communications between 2000 and 2006.
Coulson, who went on to become senior media advisor to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, now faces time in jail.
Brooks was forced to quit her high-profile job as chief executive officer of Murdoch’s British news interests in 2011 when a scandal unfolded about the way in which Murdoch’s newspapers had been hacking into private phone accounts and publishing privileged information. Though questioned about her knowledge of phone hacking while she edited the News of the World and The Sun newspapers, she always denied knowledge of any illegalities.
The jury heard how journalists were trained and instructed to hack hundreds of politicians, celebrities, victims of crime and public and private figures to break exclusive stories.
Brooks received a £11 million ($20 million) payout after resigning at the height of the phone hacking scandal. Murdoch’s embarrassment was so great that he closed the News of the World as an act of contrition.
Now that she has been cleared of all charges, speculation has begun on how she might return to the senior ranks of the news empire she had served all her working life. The Sydney Morning Herald reported a source within News Corp said Brooks had been “telling a wide number of people she is going back to work at News”.
One suggestion is that she may be parachuted into a senior position in the Australian operation. –
Compiled from internet news sources by Paige Pollard
Top image of Steve Bell’s take on Rebekah Brooks in the Guardian, from Katy Stoddard’s Flickr photostream.