Mockridge takes over as CEO

LONDON — News International’s embattled chief exec Rebekah Brooks has ankled after 11 days of political and public pressure and is set to be replaced by Sky Italia topper Tom Mockridge.

Mockridge will take over as CEO of News International, News Corporation’s U.K. newspaper division, with immediate effect.

Brooks’ decision to finally ankle the post comes after newspapers under the News Int’l. banner have been accused of a series of alleged criminal activity, including phone-hacking.

Police inquiries are looking into the possible phone-hacking of nearly 4,000 individuals and allegations against Rupert Murdoch’s media empire are mushrooming daily.

Brooks announced she was resigning her post — a move that the U.K. public and government has been waiting for since the allegations began to unravel — on Friday morning to News Int’l. staff in London.

She said Rupert and James Murdoch had accepted her resignation and that she no longer wanted to be the “focal point of the debate” concerning the future reputation of the News Intl. brand.

“As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place,” said Brooks in a statement.

“I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.”

After Brooks’ resignation and the appointment of Mockridge was announced, shares in BSkyB went up from 702 pence ($11.33) to 707 pence ($11.41).

News Corp stock dropped 19 cents to $15.25.

Brooks, who had been with News Int’l. for more than 20 years, was editor of the now-defunct News of the World, when many of the phone hacking allegations that have come to light occurred.

She and the Murdochs are due to appear before a parliamentary select committee on Tuesday to answer questions on the entire News Int’l. scandal.

Brooks added that her resignation would give her “the freedom and the time to give my full co-operation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations and the CMS appearance.”

Additionally, Rupert Murdoch has written a personal apology to the people targeted by hackers, which will be published in all national newspapers this weekend under the headline “We are sorry.”

In the letter, Murdoch apologizes for the “serious wrongdoing that occurred.”

“We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected,” he said. “In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.”

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