Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Brooks shocked by Milly allegations

Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks gives evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has told of her shock at allegations that News of the World journalists had hacked the phone of schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Appearing before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Ms Brooks said she does not know anyone "in their right mind who would authorise, no, sanction, approval, anyone listening to the voicemails of Milly Dowler in those circumstances".

Asked whether she took personal responsibility for what happened, she replied: "I would take responsibility, absolutely, and I really do want to understand what happened, I think all of us do.

"Because that, you know, out of everything I've heard on this case, that was probably the most shocking thing I've heard for a long time and certainly the most shocking thing I'd heard about potential journalists who work for News International."

She told how she was repeatedly told by the News of the World that allegations of phone hacking by the paper's journalists were untrue, and it was only after she saw papers lodged in a civil damages case brought by actress Sienna Miller last year that she understood how serious the situation was.

She was asked about her links with private investigator Jonathan Rees, a convicted criminal.

"I heard a lot recently about Jonathan Rees," she said. "I watched the Panorama programme, as we all did. He wasn't a name familiar with me, I am told that he rejoined the News of the World in 2005, 2006, and he worked for the News of the World and many other newspapers in the late 1990s."

Asked whether she found it "peculiar" that Rees had been rehired after serving a sentence for a very serious offence, she replied: "It does seem extraordinary."

And questioned about whether she had any regrets, she said: "Of course I have regrets. The idea that Milly Dowler's phone was accessed by someone being paid by the News of the World, or even worse authorised by someone at the News of the World, is as abhorrent to me as it is to everyone in this room."

Ms Brooks said the decision to close down the paper was taken because it had lost the trust of its readers, but she noted: "Of course, it wasn't the right decision for the hundreds of journalists who worked on there, had done nothing wrong, were in no way responsible. Every single one of them will be offered a job."

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