NEW YORK, N.Y. – News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, has confirmed that Rebekah Brooks is returning to the top spot in London more than a year after she was acquitted of charges in a hacking scandal that shocked the U.K.
The New York company said Wednesday that Brooks, 47, will be CEO of News UK, returning Monday to a role she left in 2011 amid the hacking scandal at the company’s now defunct News of the World paper.
News Corp has spent more than $500 million in legal settlements with hacking victims and other related costs after it came to light that reporters eavesdropped on private voicemails of thousands of people.
Brooks began her career at News of the World in 1989. She has long been considered a protege of Murdoch, who promoted her to senior positions in his British newspaper empire. She had casual access to senior figures in the British government, getting advice from former Prime Minister Tony Blair and frequently socializing with Prime Minister David Cameron.
The hacking scandal caused the shutdown of News of the World along with arrests of dozens of journalists, police and other officials, and it had seemed to put a premature end to her rise as one of Britain’s most prominent media chieftains.
But she was acquitted in June 2014 of charges related to the phone hacking, bribing officials and obstructing police. She has said that she didn’t know of phone hacking while she was News of the World editor between 2000 and 2003.
The return of Brooks, who had maintained a low public profile since she and her husband were acquitted, was not welcomed by Labour Party legislator Chris Bryant. He had been a victim of phone hacking.
“Rupert Murdoch has just stuck two fingers up to the British public and the thousands of people whose phones were hacked by News International,” he said, referring to a gesture that is considered vulgar in the U.K. “Hundreds of ordinary journalists lost their jobs when Mr. Murdoch closed the News Of The World, but it seems Rebekah Brooks is to get very special treatment.”
He said the decision is “ludicrously premature” because British prosecutors have said publicly they are mulling corporate charges against News Corp because of its actions.
The company on Wednesday also said that David Dinsmore, the editor of the Sun, would become News UK’s COO and named Tony Gallagher as the tabloid’s new editor. He has worked for the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph papers.
News UK today includes the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times papers.
Brooks will also work on digital efforts at News Corp, which separated from the entertainment conglomerate Twenty-First Century Fox two years ago.
Greg Katz contributed to this report from London.
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