Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

MP: NotW move bid to protect Brooks

An MP has called for News International chief executive and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to resign
An MP has called for News International chief executive and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to resign
Labour MP Chris Bryant claims the closure of the News of the World is an attempt to protect News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks

The MP who secured this week's dramatic parliamentary debate into the phone hacking scandal claims the closure of the News of the World is an attempt to protect News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

Chris Bryant, who is taking legal action against the newspaper over claims his phone was hacked, said Ms Brooks should have resigned over allegations that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was hacked when she was editor.

The Labour MP said: "This is designed to try and protect Rebekah Brooks, and I believe that if she had a shred of decency after what we have heard about Milly Dowler's phone being hacked, which happened on her watch as editor, she should have resigned by now.

"Everything that's been announced today just goes to show that there's been a cover-up, that Parliament has been misled, that police have been corrupted, that police investigations were undermined. This strategy of chucking first journalists, then executives and now a whole newspaper overboard isn't going to protect the person at the helm of the ship."

Former News of the World editor Piers Morgan spoke of his shock on Twitter. He wrote: "Shocked and saddened by closure of the News of the World. Scandals of past week indefensible, but has been a great British newspaper."

Publicist Max Clifford said the paper was closed to protect the reputation of Rupert Murdoch's wider media empire, which includes newspapers and TV stations around the world. "I think the cancer, in News International terms, was too deep and had spread too far to be checked. So they let the patient die because it couldn't be saved," he said. "They were obviously aware of not only the tremendous damage done to the News of the World but also News International by recent allegations. My belief is that there is a lot more to come - I think that is why the decision was taken to pull the plug."

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, one of the alleged victims of phone hacking, said that closing the paper would not resolve the problems at News International. "Cutting off the arm doesn't mean to say you've solved it. There is still the body and the head and the same culture and that's why there has be a public inquiry into it," he said.

"I cannot accept for a moment that at the top of the company, Mr Murdoch - certainly Rebekah Brooks - didn't know what was going on. Now some poor suckers on the News of the World are now going to be put on the dole simply because they've decided to make a cost-cutting exercise which they said they were going to do a week or so ago."

Milly Dowler's family's solicitor Mark Lewis said the closure "won't make any difference at all to anybody's civil claims". He told Sky News: "Any crimes, any phone hacking, any other activities that were done weren't done by the News of the World, they were done by people working for it."

"It's sad that other people have been sacrificed, will lose their jobs, but the people who are responsible are still there. They're going to be subject to criminal inquiries and, if appropriate, prosecutions, but the management of News International stays the same. There are questions asked about Rebekah Brooks. She was editor of the News of the World at the time the Milly Dowler situation was happening. She is still in her post. So she might be crying at other people losing their jobs, but perhaps she ought to lose her job and let them have theirs."

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