Rebekah Brooks' fall from grace
The media titan - once head of Rupert Murdoch's UK operations - is now under criminal investigation for her role in the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
Rebekah Brooks dined with Britain's prime minister over Christmas and got a public show of support from her boss Rupert Murdoch before the cameras this month as allegations of phone hacking on her watch mounted.Skip to next paragraph
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Now the 43-year-old U.K. media executive is a criminal suspect, her world of power and connections shattered by scandal.
Brooks, who quit as head of Murdoch's British newspapers Friday, was arrested Sunday in a widening investigation into years of alleged phone hacking of hundreds of celebrities, politicians and even murder victims, as well as bribing police for information, at the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World.
The arrest sealed Brooks' swift transformation from one of Britain's most powerful female executives to a figure of scorn and even parody.
On Sunday, an Irish discount airline seized on perceptions of Brooks as an outlaw, placing an ad in The Observer newspaper that showed a photograph of the longtime Murdoch confidant, said to be so close to him that she was seen as family.
"Hacked Off with High Fares... I'm outta here with Ryanair!" the caption crowed.
The implications of Brooks' arrest stretch far beyond her own circumstances, with questions about the extent to which the scandal rocking Britain's media establishment will dismantle the chain of command in Murdoch's business empire and erode the stature of Prime Minister David Cameron and other politicians who had once-cozy ties to the 80-year-old press baron.
Another of Murdoch's chief executives, Wall Street Journal publisher Les Hinton, also had to resign Friday after more than 50 years with Murdoch. James Murdoch, head of European and Asian operations for his father's company, News Corp., is under increasing scrutiny. He and the senior Murdoch, along with Brooks, face questioning Tuesday by British lawmakers investigating the scandal.
Brooks has been at the center of the storm since the scandal broke.
Recognizable by a long shock of curly red hair, the 43-year-old Brooks was a loyal lieutenant of Murdoch and served as editor of the News of the World for part of the time when the tabloid's journalists allegedly hacked into telephone messages.
Reports of illegal eavesdropping had percolated for years, but revelations that journalist had hacked into the voice mail of a 13-year-old murder victim, Milly Dowler, in 2002 caused a public uproar.