Friday 15 July 2011

Rebecca Brooks flame-haired Queen of Fleet Street


The flame haired, 43-year-old ability to get the scoop and rise up the corporate ladder were down to a potent mix of ruthlessness and dazzling charm.
Rebekah Brooks resigns as chief executive of News International in wake of phone-hacking scandal
That and an extraordinary ability to make friends in high places that meant the guest list to her wedding two years ago read like a Who's Who of modern Britain.
She has risen from the very bottom to the very top of the profession.
She started life as a secretary and 22 years later ended up as the right hand woman of the most powerful man in world of journalism.
The fact it took 12 days before she was finally let go from New International shows how far she has ingratiated herself in to the Rupert Murdoch family.

Many believe he sacrificed the News of the World in an attempt to save his "adopted daughter"
Mrs Brooks, then Wade, grew up in a middle class home in the village of Daresbury – nestled between the industrial Cheshire towns of Runcorn and Warrington.
An only child, she attended Appleton Hall County Grammar School and it was here, at 14, that she decided to become a journalist.
She began working weekends at Eddy Shah’s Messenger Group in Warrington, "making tea and helping out".
After taking her A-levels she travelled to Paris, where she found a temporary job on the architecture and art journal L’architecture d’Aujourd’hui.
Her Who’s Who entry claims that while in the French capital she attended the Sorbonne.
Rather than a full degree, she appears to have enrolled on a six month culture, literature and language course for foreign students.
Back in the UK, Mrs Brook’s first break came with the help of a friend of her father Robert.
The friend was one of a number of former Daily Star executives hired by Mr Shah to run his new tabloid, The Post.
He got her a job as a secretary, but she displayed a hunger to make a name for herself.
Her then colleague Tim Minogue, now a journalist on Private Eye, said: "She was very bright, very intelligent, but instead of taking memos she was always bombarding the features editor with ideas for stories. I’ve never met anyone so ambitious."
One of her early triumphs came when she volunteered to drive 900 miles in 48 hours in her ageing Renault 5 to pick up a crate of an "aphrodisiac beer" form a Strasbourg brewery, which
The Post wanted to give away as a prize.
It was this sort of mix of dogged determination and initiative that helped make her name when, aged 20, she moved to London and joined the News Of the World, first as a secretary and then a feature writer on its Sunday magazine.
Mrs Brooks rose to become the paper’s deputy editor, forging a strong friendship with its editor, Piers Morgan.
She was quickly spotted by Rupert Murdoch, who admired her drive and unswerving loyalty to the company.
So close did they become that the pair regularly swam together when he was in London and she came to be regarded as his fifth – and favourite – daughter.
In 1998 she was appointed deputy editor of The Sun, before returning to the News of the World as editor in 2000.
In 2003 she became The Sun’s first female editor and one her first day ran a picture of topless Page Three model Rebekah Parmar-Teasdale, captioned "Rebekah from Wapping, 22", a sign she had put aside reported objections to Page 3.
The previous year she had married Ross Kemp, the EastEnders actor. In a bizarre incident in 2005 she was arrested after allegedly assaulting Mr Kemp, though police released her without charge.
She reportedly walked into her office the next day – straight from the police station – asked "much going on?" then declared that she had personally supplied a great front page story for Rupert Murdoch, who was in London at the time.
In June 2009 – the same month The Guardian broke the phone hacking story which would come back to haunt her and destroy the News of the World – it was announced that she would become News International’s chief executive from the following September.
At the same time Mrs Brook, said never to forget a name, was moving in elevated social circles.
She attended the Prince of Wales’s 50th birthday party at Highgrove and counted the Blairs among her circle of friends.
It was Mrs Brooks to whom Mrs Blair revealed her pregnancy with her son Leo.
There were dinners with Bono, the campaigner and U2 singer, and a "sleepover" with Sarah Brown at Chequers.
Following her divorce from Mr Kemp, she married former jockey Charlie Brooks.
The couple are at the heart of what has come to be known as "the Chipping Norton set", which includes the PR mogul Matthew Freud, his wife Elizabeth Murdoch, Rupert’s daughter, along with Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha, whose constituency house is close to the Brooks’ country home in the Oxfordshire town.
Others in the set include Alex James of Blur, Jeremy Clarkson, Sir Anthony Bamford, the founder of JCB, and Emily Oppenheimer Turner, of the De Beers diamond dynasty.
But it is her friendship with Mr Cameron – and the influence it brought News International – which has now become one of the most controversial aspects of the News of the World affair.
The pair are said to have gone riding together and in February this year it was disclosed that Mr Cameron had spent an evening during Christmas at the Brooks’s.
All of these friends are now likely to be dragged into the "phone hacking" scandal.
But it is unlikely many will phone to say thank you.