"ROGUE REPORTER" DEFENCE DROPPED
Brooks, whose youth, mane of red hair and former marriage
to a soap opera star have given her a high public profile in
Britain, said in a message to staff:
"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."
She said she felt "a deep sense of responsibility for the
people we have hurt."
That appeared an acknowledgment that the News of the
World's invasions of private voicemails went well beyond those
of the royal aides whose complaints led to the jailing of a
reporter and an investigator in 2007. Police say they are now
probing whether another 4,000 people -- including victims of
crimes, bombings and war -- were targeted.
Former motor-racing boss Max Mosley told Reuters on Friday
he had agreed to underwrite lawsuits that victims of alleged
intrusive reporting may bring against News International.
Mosley, who won damages from the News of the World after it
published revelations about his sex life, said he would cover
the potentially large costs if people rejected settlement
offers and pressed forward with litigation.
Tom Watson, a Labour MP who has led the campaign against
the News International papers, said Brooks' departure could put
James Murdoch, his father's heir apparent, in the spotlight.
"Because she has taken so long to go I think the focus will
very swiftly move on to James Murdoch now and what he knew and
what he was involved in," Watson told Sky News.
A week ago, Brooks had told News of the World staff, who
were sacked with the paper's closure, that she would remain to
try and resolve the company's problems -- causing anger among
many of the 200 being laid off. Some accused Murdoch of
sacrificing their jobs to save hers.
Brooks could receive a seven-figure payoff but that is
likely to come with a strict agreement she keeps her silence,
legal experts and a former executive said on Friday.
As well as its published apology this weekend, the company
would also write to its commercial partners to update them on
its actions, James Murdoch said. Many advertisers had said they
would boycott the News of the World before the company killed
it off and refused paid advertising in last Sunday's final
"The Company has made mistakes," James Murdoch wrote to
staff. "It is not only receiving appropriate scrutiny, but is
also responding to unfair attacks by setting the record
Analysts welcomed the tone.
"It is obvious that the company is finally listening fully
to the political noise around it and is finally taking
seriously the issues that have emerged around alleged offences
at News International," said Claire Enders, head of Enders
Analysis Media Consultancy.
Reuters is a competitor of Dow Jones Newswires, the
financial news agency that News Corp acquired along with the
Wall Street Journal in 2007.
(Additional reporting by; Stefano Ambrogi, Michael Holden,
Matt Falloon, Mark Hosenball, Tim Castle and Karolina Tagaris
in London, Basil Katz, Carlyn Kolker and Yinka Adegoke in New
York; Writing by Paul Thomasch and Keith Weir; Editing by
Alastair Macdonald, Myra MacDonald and Richard Chang)