Days after shutting down its 168-year-old News of the World and abandoning its $12 billion attempt to buy the rest of satellite giant British Sky Broadcasting, News Corp. has absorbed another consequence of its phone-hacking scandal by accepting the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, CEO of its British newspapers division.
Ms. Brooks was editor at News of the World during much of the phone hacking that has enraged Britain, but has said she knew nothing about any of it. News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch had stood by her even as he walked away from the paper, its 200 employees and, most recently, the BSkyB deal.
"At News International we pride ourselves on setting the news agenda for the right reasons," Ms. Brooks said in an email to staffers. "Today we are leading the news for the wrong ones."
Ms. Brooks wanted to "remain on the bridge" during the crisis but decided she had become a detraction from News Corp.'s "honest endeavors to fix problems of the past," she wrote.
Critics have viewed each damage control measure skeptically. They called the closure of News of the World a cynical bid to salvage the BSkyB acquisition, predicting News Corp. would simply open a new Sunday version of the Sun tabloid in its place. Abandoning the BSkyB deal was just an attempt to preserve the chance to try again not too far down the road, they said. Now News Corp. is hoping that another sacrifice -- Ms. Brooks -- will finally help quiet the storm.
But Mr. Murdoch, his son James and Ms. Brooks have agreed to testify before Parliament, while Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed a respected former prosecutor to lead a judicial inquiry into News Corp. A police investigation is also underway. And in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened a preliminary investigation into whether News Corp. tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims.
Below, the full text of Ms. Brooks' resignation letter:
At News International we pride ourselves on setting the news agenda for the right reasons. Today we are leading the news for the wrong ones.
The reputation of the company we love so much, as well as the press freedoms we value so highly, are all at risk.
As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place.
I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However 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.
Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted.
Rupert's wisdom, kindness and incisive advice has guided me throughout my career and James is an inspirational leader who has shown me great loyalty and friendship.
I would like to thank them both for their support.
I have worked here for 22 years and I know it to be part of the finest media company in the world.
News International is full of talented, professional and honourable people. I am proud to have been part of the team and lucky to know so many brilliant journalists and media executives.
I leave with the happiest of memories and an abundance of friends.
As you can imagine recent times have been tough. I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive.
My resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations and the CMS appearance.
I am so grateful for all the messages of support. I have nothing but overwhelming respect for you and our millions of readers.
I wish every one of you all the best.