8 Jul 2011

Rebekah Brooks defies calls to resign

News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks tells staff at the News of the World the company will try to find them new jobs as the tabloid goes to the press for the last time this weekend.

The Sunday tabloid's former editor is said to have apologised for

Rebekah Brooks has reportedly apologised to those staff facing redundancy, but defied calls to resign as chief executive of News International.

The Sunday paper’s former editor is said to have apologised for “operational issues” and promised to try locate them elsewhere in the organisation.

Former News of the World journalist Sophy Ridge said Mrs Brooks told staff that she was staying on at News International “because she is a conductor for it all”.

Mrs Brooks said the decision to close the News of the World (NoW) was taken because there could be another “two years plus” of trouble, Ms Ridge wrote on Twitter.

The Sky News political correspondent tweeted: “Rebekah Brooks said that advertisers said the brand was ‘toxic’, I’m hearing, and the decision ‘was not done lightly’.”

Renault has become the first major advertiser to say it has no plans to advertise in any News International titles as a result of the scandal.

The comany announced on Thursday that NoW, Britain’s biggest selling Sunday newspaper, would close next week after 168 years.

Mrs Brooks, who is a friend of David Cameron’s, has been under pressure from politicians from all sides of the House of Commons to resign over allegations that reporters hacked into voicemail messages.

The prime minister said on Friday morning that he had heard that Brooks offered her resignation, adding: “I would have taken it.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “Rebekah Brooks should take responsibility for what happened while she was Editor of the News of the World … and I don’t think frankly closing down the News of the World changes that.”

Protesters gathered at the News International headquarters site in Wapping, east London, to demonstrate against Rebekah Brooks and the company’s owner Rupert Murdoch ahead of her speech.

Police were forced to move the group of 30 to 40 people away from the entrance to the car park which runs along East Smithfield.

Ofcom to contact police

Meanwhile, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has said it will contact police to determine if the phone hacking allegations are relevant to whether News Corp would be a “fit and proper” owner of the BSkyB satelllite TV network.

Ofcom is required to ensure that anyone holding a broadcast licence remains fit and proper to do so, and the watchdog said a licence holder would not necessarily have to be charged with a criminal offence for an investigation to begin.

A consultation on News Corp’s controversial approach for the satellite broadcaster ended on Friday, but Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would take “some time” to reach a decision after the Department of Culture, Media and Sport received an unprecedented 160,000 responses.

The scandal has caused BSkyB’s share price to drop by around 8 per cent this week, wiping more than £500m from its market value as investors worry that the deal may not go through.