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UK phone hacking: CEO Brooks quits; Murdoch to apologise

July 15, 2011 16:29 IST

Reeling under sustained criticism, media baron Rupert Murdoch and his family on Friday went into damage-limitation mode by promising to "apologise" to the nation, and accepted the resignation of former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks.

The Murdochs and their media empire have become the focus of criticism and inquiries in Britain as well as in the United States and Australia, besides taking knocks on the stock exchange for indulging in dubious news gathering practices.

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, on Friday listed the measures the company is taking to deal with the issue, including tendering an apology. The apology will be published in an advertisement in all national newspapers.

He wrote in an email to staff of News International, which owns four newspaper titles in the UK, "This weekend, News International will run advertisements in all national newspapers".

"We will apologise to the nation for what has happened. We will follow this up in the future with communications about the actions we have taken to address the wrongdoing that occurred," he said.

Earlier, Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International under whose editorship of News of the World murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked, apologised and resigned from the post.

Her resignation was welcomed by ministers and MPs, many of whom felt it should have happened much earlier.

Tom Mockridge, CEO of Sky Italia, has been named as the next chief executive of News International.

Brooks said in her resignation letter, "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".

She added, "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".

According to James Murdoch, the company has now formed an "independent management and standards committee", which will have direct governance and oversight from News Corporation board members.

He wrote, "We made the difficult and necessary decision to close the News of the World. News Corporation also withdrew its proposal to acquire the shares in BSkyB it does not own. This is a strong signal that our top priority in the UK is to address the issues facing News International".

Murdoch added, "Next week, my father and I will appear before the CMS (culture, media and sport) select committee and will speak to them directly about our determination to put things right".

"The company has made mistakes. It is not only receiving appropriate scrutiny, but is also responding to unfair attacks by setting the record straight," he said.

Prasun Sonwalkar In London
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