Expanding Murdoch scandal claims second Scotland Yard officer
Two senior Scotland Yard officers have now resigned over a scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tied to bribing police and illegally hacking into cellphone messages.
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“The scandal is letting out a lot of anger that has been built up for years in the British public,” says Jasmine Birtles, who runs the Moneymagpie website in London. “Brooks has been arrested on the same day as the British public is hearing she told [Prime Minister] Cameron he had to hire Andy Coulson as chief press officer.”Skip to next paragraph
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In Britain, the revelations that Murdoch's tabloid routinely bribed police officers and illegally listened to private cellphone messages has overshadowed an ongoing debt crisis in Europe that has crippled Greece and raised questions about the ability of Italy and Spain to pay back debt. It has also diverted attention from Britain’s own difficult adjustment to spending cuts, including to medical programs and pension plans.
Brooks, a central figure in the unfolding scandal and a horseback riding partner of Mr. Cameron, endured growing British public opprobrium before she resigned July 15. Yesterday, her visit to a London police station to cooperate in an investigation turned into an arrest and 12 hours of detention and questioning before terms of her bail were agreed to.
Mr. Stephenson, meanwhile, left his post as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner after reports confirmed last week that he had employed Neil Wallis, a News Corp. operative deeply involved in the hacking scandal, to advise Scotland Yard at $1,700 a day until last year. Britain’s top cop had also apparently accepted hospitality gifts at a posh spa that also employed Wallis.
On Tuesday, Murdoch and his son James are scheduled to testify before a House of Commons committee. Brooks is also scheduled to appear to answer detailed questions. While numerous press sources say Brooks is now unlikely to testify following her arrest, the BBC’s Robert Peston Monday sent a tweet that Brooks will “definitely” show up to “give evidence,” citing her spokesman.
As the scandal has exploded, perhaps no single figure has been more derided than Brooks. The woman whose distinctive red curly locks and impassive demeanor are now well known started as a secretary at News Corp. and was catapulted up the Murdoch ladder to become a “fifth daughter” to the billionaire media mogul; she is known for entering Cameron meetings without knocking. Her tough style made her the first female editor of the Sun; former prime minister Gordon Brown said it was Brooks, as editor of News of the World, who called to tell him the paper was running an exclusive on his young son’s disability, which Brown had sought to keep out of the public eye.
Brooks, who lives a short distance from Mr. Cameron in Oxfordshire, was close to Coulson. In recent days, reports have indicated that she played a key role in advising Cameron on hiring Coulson as director of communications last year following the election of a Tory-led coalition to rule Britain.