Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British operations, quit on Friday, after days of mounting pressure over the phone-hacking scandal involving the group's once best selling tabloid News of the World.
Brooks was now the chief executive of News International, which owned four newspaper titles in Britain: The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and the closed News of the World, and it was under her editorship that dubious news-gathering practices took place.
Brooks, 43, became the target of public ire when it was revealed that the people whose phones were hacked for information included the murdered teenager Milly Dowler, and families of July 7 London bombing victims and kin of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Until today, Murdoch, 80, backed Brooks and refused to ask her to take responsibility for the illegal practices and resign, despite demands by Prime Minister David Cameron and others.
The phone-hacking row has already led to at least two major casualties so far: the closure of News of the World and the withdrawal of the USD 15 billion takeover bid for BSkyB.
There are reports that Murdoch's companies now face probes in the US and Australia. Brooks, a British citizen, will appear before the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee of the House of Commons on Tuesday. In an earlier hearing, she had admitted to MPs that her company had paid policemen for information.
Brooks said in a statement: "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," she said.
"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". Brooks worked for Murdoch for 22 years, but said "recent times have been tough".
Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of Sky Italia TV channel, will be the new CEO of News International, News Corp announced.
"I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive," Brooks said.
"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," she added.
Image: Rupert Murdoch with Rebekah Brooks in central London.