Friday 8 July 2011

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has announced that she will no longer be in charge of its internal investigation into phone hacking


Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World at the time when a mobile phone that belonged to the murdered teenager Milly Dowler was hacked into, said in an email that executives carrying out the investigation will instead report directly to Joseph Klein, a New York-based senior executive at the company's owner, News Corp.

"People have asked if it is right for me, as CEO of News International and as the Editor of the News of the World until January 2003, to oversee our efforts to assess allegations, address serious issues and prevent them from happening again," she said in an email sent out to all of News International's departments.

"I'm determined that News International does this."

"For the avoidance of any doubt, however, the News Corporation independent directors agree with James Murdoch's recommendation that the Management and Standards Committee, comprised of Will Lewis, Simon Greenberg and Jeff Palker, report directly to Joel Klein in New York.

"Joel is leading and directing the company's overall handling of this matter."

She added: "James outlined the standards this company demands in his message to you yesterday. These standards apply to everyone, first and foremost to me as News International's chief executive."

Brooks, who has been under mounting pressure to resign following the Guardian's report about the Dowler hacking, again addressed News of the World staff today after yesterday informing them that the newspaper is to close this Sunday.

She told employees: "You may be angry with me, I understand, but I'm angry with the people who did this [hacking] and feel bitterly betrayed," Sky News reported.

In the email she sent out today, Brooks, said: "Yesterday was a day of great sadness for the News of the World and I know all of you felt deep sympathy for colleagues. I want the whole of the company to know and recognise the following things about colleagues at the News of the World."

Brooks said that the company will focus over the coming months on finding as many jobs as possible for the News of the World staff both within News International and the wider company.

"Retaining talent is very important and I have asked all the other titles to fill current vacancies with those from the News of the World where possible. No decision has been taken yet on any new publications or expanding existing ones. We will retain Fabulous which is a credit to everyone who has made it such a successful and award-winning magazine."

She said that all current staff will be paid for the next three months and that discussions over severance terms and "redeployment options" would begin on Monday with News International-backed staff association (Nisa)

In an apparent reference to a move yesterday by management to switch off access to Twitter and other social networking facilities available to News of the World staff, she added: "I would also like to apologise for any operational problems in the newsroom that are a direct result of our co-operation with the police."

She went on: "News International is not leading an investigation into itself because that could interfere with the work of the Metropolitan Police. What we are doing is assisting the police, who are entirely independent, with their work. We are all clear about one thing: the police will follow the evidence no matter where it takes them. The strongest action will be taken whenever wrongdoing is proven."

Joseph Klein is a former assistant attorney general of the United States. He and Viet Dinh, an independent director, are giving oversight and keeping News International's parent company's board advised , according to Brooks.

She added: "As a company we welcome the prime minister's calls for broad public inquiries into media standards and police practices. We are working hard to put our own house in order and do the right thing. Change and accountability will come through cooperating with criminal and civil inquiries and respecting due process during the tough times ahead."

Signing off her email with "Rebekah", Brooks concluded: "For this week, however, the News of the World staff have the toughest and most important job of all. I know they will produce a final issue that we will make us all proud.