March 2, 2015 / 12:01 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Rebekah Brooks in talks to return to News Corp - source

(Adds source details)

By Kate Holton

LONDON, March 2 (Reuters) - Rebekah Brooks, the former Rupert Murdoch protegee cleared last year of running an illegal campaign to hack into phones for tabloid scoops, is in talks to return to the media conglomerate, a source said on Monday.

A person familiar with the situation said Brooks, who rose in 14 years from the most junior newsroom position to edit the country’s biggest selling newspaper, was likely to return to a role focusing on new digital and social media avenues.

Brooks has not yet signed a contract and there is no timeline in place, the sources said. Under the proposal, she was likely to be based in Britain and would work with Storyful, a 2013 News Corp acquisition that discovers, verifies and acquires news and footage on social media networks.

The head of Storyful will remain in place, the person said.

The company, which declined to comment, had previously said Brooks travelled to New York in October last year to explore job opportunities there.

If agreed, the role will mark the first time the 46-year-old has returned to News Corp since she quit in July 2011 amid a firestorm sparked by revelations that staff at the News of the World tabloid had hacked into the phones of thousands of people to break news.

Brooks, who edited both the now-defunct Sunday tabloid and Murdoch’s daily Sun newspaper, had by then become the chief executive of News International, Murdoch’s British newspaper arm now called News UK.

Asked at the height of the scandal what his biggest priority was, Murdoch pointed to Brooks as they were followed down the street by a gaggle of reporters and said “this one”.

Having stepped down from that role, Brooks was arrested and later charged with being part of a conspiracy to hack into phones to find exclusive stories, of authorising illegal payments to public officials and of trying to hinder the police investigation.

She denied all the charges and was found not guilty in June 2014 after an eight-month trial.

Brooks, who was regularly pictured by Murdoch’s side and was a close friend of the last three British prime ministers including David Cameron, had previously focused on the company’s digital growth during her time as the head of News International. (Reporting by Kate Holton in London; additional reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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