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News International's former editor Brooks arrested

July 18, 2011 12:00 IST

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was arrested from her London house this afternoon on charges of phone hacking and corruption. News International is News Corp's British newspaper arm.

Brooks, 43, is to appear before a parliamentary committee that is collecting evidence in a phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the country and its media over the last fortnight.

She is the third former News Corp employee to be arrested. Earlier this month, the former editor of News of the World (NoTW), Andy Coulson, and former deputy editor of the paper, Neil Wallis, were arrested.

The scandal has so far led to 10 arrests in the UK. Those arrested earlier have been let off on bail after being questioned. Brooks, too, is likely to get bail later in the evening.

The culture, media and sport select committee chair John Whittingdale and other members raised doubts if Brooks would be able to appear before the committee on Tuesday.

Brooks is to appear before the committee along with News Corp head Rupert Murdoch and his son, James Murdoch.

Some sections of the media also questioned if Brooks' arrest was an attempt to take the spotlight off Met police chief Sir Paul Stephenson, who it emerged today accepted hospitality worth 㱲,000 from a host close to Murdoch.

A spokesperson for Brooks said she had been offering to speak to the police since January.

Brooks was the editor of NoTW between 2007 and 2009, after which she was made the CEO of News International, the publisher of the Sunday tabloid.

Until last Friday, Murdoch was refusing to accept Brooks' resignation, despite her name being dragged into the phone-tapping controversy.

Earlier, when Murdoch was asked what his priority was in relation to the scandal, he looked at Brooks and said, "She".

Brooks is even referred to as Murdoch's 'fifth child'. Her exit from News International became imminent only after Murdoch's daughter, Elisabeth, along with Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major shareholder in News Corp, put pressure on Murdoch to accept her resignation.

Brooks was with the News Corp group for 18 years and is best known for her days in the daily tabloid, The Sun, and later the Sunday tabloid, NoTW. She is famous for her networking skills, which saw her rise within Murdoch's empire at breakneck speed. She is expected to pocket a 㳮5-million payout from her former employer.

Image: File picture of Rebekah Brooks | Photograph: Reuters

S Kalyana Ramanathan in London
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