Rebekah Brooks' return may be a loyal statement by Rupert Murdoch, but she will be a pariah to all

By Chris Boffey |

August 30, 2015 | 5 min read

At the height of the blood lust over hacking Rupert Murdoch flew into London, walked down a street with Rebecca Brooks, posed for the paps, and told the world she was his first priority.

Not so long afterwards she was resigned (sacked) as chief executive of News International receiving a payout of more than £10m, prosecuted and cleared of hacking and in a series of later trials of Sun and News of the World journalists there were more questions raised, and not answered, about just what went on when she was editor and then CEO.

Now it appears Murdoch is to make good on his promise and in a leak to the Financial Times the media world is being told Rebecca is back. In an industry where loyalty is a scant resource maybe one should applaud Rupert, marvel at Brooks rising from the ashes and allow a talented woman still in early middle age to renew her stellar career.

Murdoch must be mad. Brooks will be a pariah in her own newsrooms, not trusted, not liked and not respected. She is the poster girl of everything that was wrong at News international and to many the architect of of the demise of the company, now replaced by News UK, and the death of the News of the World.

A jury at the Old Bailey cleared her of all criminal charges but in the courtroom of journalistic opinion she has lost all of the respect she had, and for many who worked under her at the Sun and NoW there was not much to lose.

She will be returning on a mega-salary, plus benefits, to a company that refused to pay the prosecution costs of its crime reporter, even when reduced, and watched on as the journalistic community paid them by crowd sourcing.

There are still Sun journalists facing trial, including the well-liked Jamie Pyatt, others are still trying to discover their future and some are broken, never to work again. Management is disliked and distrusted at News UK and this will be exacerbated by the return of Brooks.

Some may feel that is very emotional response and being popular is not a fundamental in a good CEO, but Brooks' defence to the criminal charges was that as editor of the two tabloids and as the overall boss she had no knowledge of the hundreds of thousands being spent on hacking and payment to public officials. How is that consistent with good management?

Another problem for Brooks in returning the the scene of the crime, obviously not hers, is that one of her main weapons, has been neutralised. When she was reigning supreme not even the prime minister would refuse to take her call, she was seen at all the parties with the movers and shakers and invitations to her parties were gold dust. Not any more. She is tainted goods, bankrupt of good will and one not to be seen with, especially not in the short term with Crown Prosecution Service considering corporate charges against the company for hacking. Maybe that is why Brooks is being brought back inside the tent.

It would be interesting and informative to know who leaked the story to the FT. Was it News UK in order to gauge reaction or a furious employee of News UK? Will she be returning her pay off? How secure will this decision make Murdoch within his global empire and when he dies how long will it take his heirs to get rid of Brooks,

As always the rise of Rebecca not only raises eyebrows but a plethora of questions.


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