News International’s ex-CEO, already arrested for her part in the phone-hacking scandal, testifies after Rupert and James Murdoch
Rebekah Brooks' appearance before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was as memorable for what she did not say as for what she said.
The former News International Chief Executive was unable to answer certain questions because of ongoing criminal proceedings — she was arrested on Sunday — and otherwise opted to speak in generalities or refute allegations.
She denied reports that she advised UK Prime Minister David Cameron to hire Andy Coulson. Coulson, former editor of News of the World, served as Cameron's Director of Communications.
Brooks is a close friend of Cameron's, but she dismissed reports of shared holdings and said the relationship is above board. "The truth is he is a neighbor and a friend but I deem the relationship to be wholly appropriate," she said.
Brooks also denied any links to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was employed by News of the World and was arrested for phone hacking back in 2006.
She did say she was "aware the News of the World used private detectives, like every paper in Fleet Street did."
Throughout the hearing, Brooks searched for the right words, often stammering or pausing so as not to say something that would complicate the police investigation. As part of a closing statement, she did ask to come back when she is unfettered by legal restraints.
She closed by saying: "The most important thing going forward is to discover the truth behind these allegations." As she did throughout, she shifted attention from errors in management and a culture of criminality to rectifying specific errors and finding the truth.
See the full blog on Brooks' hearing below:
11:22 PT — Brooks closed by apologizing and asking to come back after she is free from legal restraints.
11:20 PT – Brooks denied reports that News International subsidized Andy Coulson after he left the News of the World. She also said it was "wholly unfair" to single out News of the World in discussing relationships between media and the police.
11:15 PT — Brooks on David Cameron: "The truth is he is a neighbor and a friend but I deem the relationship to be wholly appropriate." She denied several rumors she has heard about the two of them, including the claim that she told Cameron to hire Andy Coulson. "That is not true. It never was true."
11:12 PT – The Murdochs took over the media and Twitter universe. Brooks…not so much. Almost only British journalists are chiming in.
11:10 PT — Brooks asked about meetings with Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Brooks defends the Sun, calling it the paper of the military.
11:05 PT — As many have said before her, Brooks said mistakes were made but that the company has responded appropriately since more information became available.
11:00 PT – Questions move on to how frequently Brooks spoke with Rupert Murdoch. The MP presses her for a finite number and she opts for every other day.
10:58 PT — Brooks denied asking any other Fleet Street editors to quiet the hacking story back in 2009.
10:52 PT — Brooks was asked if she ever inquired where the information on Milly Dowler came from. She says finding the truth is the most important thing, and then declines to do so because of the pending criminal investigation. She does say that she was unaware of hacking, which she considers abhorrent. That is her word of the day.
10:46 PT — Brooks spends as much time clarifying the questions as answering them. A lot of attention being paid to Harbottle & Lewis, a prominent British law firm. One of the main reasons is that Jon Chapman, who represented News of the World, is taking a lot of the blame from the Murdochs and Brooks.
10:43 PT — Brooks continues to toe the party line on when she became aware of various incidents. She didn't know about Milly Dowler until it was in the Guardian.
10:36 PT — If the Murdoch hearing felt repetitive at times, this one is far worse. Almost every question has either involved Brooks lamenting what happened with Milly Dowler or explaining that the use of private investigators.
10:20 PT — Why was News of the World paying Andy Coulson's legal fees? It was part of his exit agreement. That means the company paid Coulson while he was working for David Cameron.
1019: PT – Worth noting: Keith Olbermann keeps pushing comparisons with "The Simpsons" on Current TV. Most recently, the testimony was interrupted with a Krusty the Clown clip.
10:18 PT — Clearly unaccustomed to her new free time, Brooks continues to refer to News of the World as "we" and speak in the present tense. She even recognized this earlier in the hearing.
10:15 PT — Brooks says the public will come to the realization that News International did the right thing by closing the News of the World. "The New of the World used to lead the headlines for the right reason," she said. "In the last few months, and probably, actually, for the last few years it has been leading the headline for the wrong reason."
10:10 PT — "I've never paid a policemen myself," Brooks said.
10:07 PT — The questioning returns to the "culture" at News of the World, News International and Fleet Street in general.
10:03 PT — One last question, "Do you have any regrets?" Brooks: "Of course I have regrets." Like the Murdochs, Brooks cited the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone as what really upset her, calling it "abhorrent" and blaming News International's response for being too slow.
9:56 PT – The questioner is pressing Brooks really hard on the subject of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was arrested in 2006 for phone hacking. Brooks denied meeting him or having any contact with him whatsoever. She says she had no idea who he was until the arrest. A debate about her recordkeeping and secretaries followed. She did say she was "aware the News of the World used private detectives, like every paper in Fleet Street did." Past tense?
9:52 PT – Lots of questions about private detectives. Brooks said the News of the World used them, like most of the papers on Fleet Street. However, she did not pay the investigators because the editor acquires the budget but does not allocate it. Brooks was sure to protect the Sun as she denied ever working with investigators while working there.
9:50 PT — The committee already jumps on a contradiction. Brooks says she did not fire Tom Crone, formerly legal counsel for News of the World. James said she did.
9:49 PT — Brooks is declining to answer several questions because of a pending criminal investigation. Remember: she was arrested on Sunday in connection with phone hacking.
9:45 PT – Rebekah Brooks' hearing before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has begun. She denies lying about the scope of phone hacking and says it did not become apparent until the Sienna Miller case.