MEDIA

Rupert Murdoch, In London, Backs Rebekah Brooks And Tackles Phone Hacking Scandal

07/10/2011 09:53 am ET | Updated Sep 09, 2011

Update (The Huffington Post): Rebekah Brooks, the embattled head of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper division News International, arrived at Murdoch's London residence Sunday afternoon after Murdoch flew into the U.K. to personally oversee his company's response to the growing phone hacking scandal. Sky News reported that Brooks went to Murdoch's house at around 5:35 London time.

Brooks has faced calls to step down from her position from all sides of the political spectrum, and many inside News International are said to be furious and astonished that she had remained in power. Murdoch, however, has said she has his "total" support.

Murdoch later emerged with his arm around a smiling Brooks. He told reporters that she was his "first" priority, according to Reuters.

Original Post (AP Text): LONDON -- With the last edition of Britain's News of the World tabloid in hand, Rupert Murdoch descended on the U.K. Sunday to face the growing phone-hacking scandal that prompted the paper's closure.

TV footage showed the News Corp. CEO being driven into the east London offices of his U.K. newspaper division, News International. The 80-year-old Murdoch was seated in the front passenger seat of a red Range Rover with a copy of the last issue of the best-selling Sunday tabloid in his hands.

Britons, too, were snapping up the last edition of the News of the World, after the 168-year-old muckraking paper was brought down in a phone-hacking scandal.

The 8,674th edition apologizes for letting the paper's readers down, but stops short of acknowledging recent allegations that its journalists paid police for information.

"We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards," read a full-page editorial in the paper. "Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry."

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Allegations the paper's journalists paid police for information and hacked into the voicemails of young murder victims and the grieving families of dead soldiers prompted Murdoch's News International to shut down the tabloid.

The developments have turned up the heat on Britain's media industry amid concerns a police investigation won't stop with the News of the World, and cast new scrutiny on the cozy relationship between British politicians and the tabloid press.

Murdoch, who has long been considered a kingmaker in the British media establishment, is facing a maelstrom of criticism and outrage not just over the new allegations of impropriety at his tabloid, but also the decision to shut the paper and put 200 journalists out of work.

News International declined to comment on Murdoch's movements or plans while in the U.K.

Closing down the News of the World, which was launched Oct. 1, 1843, was seen by some as a desperate attempt by the media conglomerate to stem negative fallout and thus save its 12 billion-pound ($19 billion) deal to take over satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.

The British government has signaled that deal will be delayed because of the crisis, and the scandal has continued to unfold at breakneck pace in the media, prompting broader questions about corruption at the newspaper and media regulation in the U.K.

Soul-searching has extended to the highest levels of government, with Prime Minister David Cameron conceding politicians developed too cozy a relationship with the tabloid press. Cameron's former communications chief, Andy Coulson, is an ex-editor of the News of the World and was one of three men arrested this week as part of a police investigation into the phone-hacking and corruption allegations.

Cameron has called for a new media regulation system and pledged a public inquiry into what went wrong; the head of Murdoch's U.K. newspaper operations has hinted that more revelations are to come.

As the News of the World's final issue went to press, Assistant Police Commissioner John Yates expressed his "extreme regret" that he did not act to reopen police inquiries into phone hacking two years ago. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he said "it's clear I could have done more."

On Sunday, opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband warned that a Murdoch takeover of BSkyB should not be allowed while the phone-hacking investigation is ongoing.

"When the public have seen the disgusting revelations that we have seen this week, the idea that this organization, which engaged in these terrible practices, should be allowed to take over BSkyB, to get that 100 percent stake, without the criminal investigation having been completed...frankly that just won't wash with the public," he told the BBC.

Buying the News of the World in 1969 gave the Australian-born Murdoch his first foothold in Britain's media. He went on to snap up several other titles, gaining almost unparalleled influence in British politics through the far-reaching power of his papers' headlines.

Murdoch has opted to remain largely silent amid the fallout, issuing one official statement describing the allegations as "deplorable and unacceptable."

Many journalists and media watchers have expressed astonishment that Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of News of the World when some of the hacking allegedly occurred, was keeping her job as head of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper operations while the paper's employees were laid off.

Murdoch on Saturday told reporters in Sun Valley, Idaho, that Brooks had his "total" support.

The scandal exploded this week after it was reported that the News of the World had hacked the mobile phone of 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler in 2002 while her family and police were desperately searching for her. News of the World operatives reportedly deleted some messages from the phone's voicemail, giving the girl's parents false hope that she was still alive.

Brooks told lawmakers she had "no knowledge whatsoever" of the Milly Dowler hacking or any other case while she was editor, according to a letter published by Britain's home affairs select committee on Saturday.

The News of the World's last edition contained a 48-page souvenir pullout section highlighting the paper's scoops and its coverage of big moments in history. Despite the recent scandal, many viewed the paper as a force for good, exposing numerous political, celebrity and sports scandals.

The paper has been praised for its role in getting a sex offender law passed in Britain. "Sarah's Law" was named after 8-year-old British girl Sarah Payne, murdered in 2000 by a pedophile. It is modeled on "Megan's Law," the U.S. legislation named for Megan Kanka, a New Jersey child murdered by a repeat sex offender.

The last edition's back page had 1946 quotes from British author George Orwell, an admirer of the paper.

"You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose and open the News of the World," Orwell said.

The back page also had quotes running beside Orwell's from Jeannie Hobson, a loyal reader from Lymington, England, which read as an epitaph.

"I cannot imagine Sundays without you," the 68-year-old Hobson said. "I will always remember the News of the World for the good things you have brought to light. I'm sad to say goodbye to my Sunday favorite."

10/07/2011 11:48 BST

Ken Livingstone Says During His Time As Mayor No One Said There Was A Cover-Up.

He tells the Politics Show that no one from the Guardian, the paper who exposed the scandal, said there were more revelations to come or he would have demanded the police investigate.

10/07/2011 11:43 BST

Former Cabinet Minister David Mellor On Sky:

It's a sense, this 1930s chicago element of this, that all these people, including the Prime Minister, were so frightened of Murdoch either because of his political power, or frightened because they'd wake up one morning and find something in the papers their wife wouldn't like.

I worry about Dave Cameron because he seems to be getting all of this wrong.

He should stand up now and say 'I've told Rupert Murdoch, do not embarrass me by pursuing this application because the British public will not have it. Instead of which he doesn't, fumbles around. He's lost ground.

After all those times having happy little drinkies with Rebekah Brooks the Prime Minister owes it to all of us to raise his game.

10/07/2011 11:35 BST

Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis Tells The Politics Show:

"It’s a new era, and politicians have a duty to speak out for the public.”

10/07/2011 11:32 BST

Chris Bryant: Yates Should Go

@ ChrisBryantMP : It is inconceivable that Yates cd remain. He misled parliament - and when I called him on it, threatened to sue. and who paid his lawyers?

10/07/2011 11:23 BST

Rupert Murdoch Has Arrived In London

The BBC reports

10/07/2011 11:12 BST

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond on Sky stresses that Ofcom "at any time" can intervene on the basis of fitness and properness of News International to buy out BSkyB.

10/07/2011 10:47 BST

Simon Hughes' Full Quote About The BSkyB Merger And Voting With Labour

“The position for this week is clear, I think, if there’s a debate and vote in the House of Commons, I will be suggesting to my colleagues that we as a party, a party that’s never been close to Murdoch, never been in this inner loop, I think we should make clear that we think there should be a postponement of the decision.

There shouldn’t be a decision while the police investigations are going on, and we should let the police investigations run their course.

And can I add I don’t think it’s only the News of the World, if the judicial inquiry does it’s full work, which will be in the frame of what the information commissioner made clear in 2006, that many titles, owned by many different people, and other titles owned by News International which have been guilty, not just of hacking but of other offences. And I think that now is the time we bring all of that up.”

10/07/2011 10:36 BST

A Sunday Times Journalist Tweets About Chris Huhne's Allegations Her Paper Hacked

@ camillalong : Do we think Chris Huhne's suggestion that the ST is involved in hacking is anything to do with our 3+ damaging stories about his driving?

10/07/2011 10:18 BST

Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger On Whether He Warned Number 10 On Coulson

He tells Sky that he "got messages through to all the three party leaders" about the extent of revelations to follow.

10/07/2011 10:10 BST

Simon Hughes Is On Sky:

He says he will suggest to his colleagues to "make clear" that there should be a postponement of the BSkyB merger. He also says he thinks other titles have been guilty of hacking and "other offences".

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