Rebekah Brooks arrives at the Old Bailey courthouse.
Rebekah Brooks, former boss of Rupert Murdoch's British
newspaper arm, told a London court the media mogul had
persuaded her not to quit amid public revulsion over the
hacking of a murdered schoolgirl's phone.
Brooks, on trial for phone-hacking offences, said a 2011
report that journalists on Murdoch's News of the World
tabloid had tapped the voicemail messages of 13-year-old
Milly Dowler had caused a national scandal, with her at its
centre, describing it at the time as a "sexist witch hunt".
Despite the furore, Murdoch and other senior figures told her
not to resign, and she told the Old Bailey court that amid
the public disgust and condemnation, former Prime Minister
Tony Blair and CNN talk show host Piers Morgan had also
contacted her to offer support.
The outrage began on July 4, 2011, when the Guardian
newspaper reported that journalists from the News of the
World (NoW) had accessed voicemails on the girl's mobile
phone while she was missing nine years earlier, and had
deleted some, giving her parents false hope that she was
The ensuing scandal led Murdoch to close the 168-year-old
newspaper and ditch a $12 billion bid to take full control of
British pay-TV operator BSkyB.
The court has heard Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective who
worked for the paper, has admitted hacking Dowler's phone but
police had later ascertained he had not deleted any
Brooks, who had been NoW editor at the time of the hacking,
of which she denies all knowledge, said she had been at a
fertility clinic with her cousin, who was carrying her
surrogate baby, when she was alerted to the news. "First of
all I didn't believe it," she said. "It was pretty horrific."
She said the news had stunned bosses at News International,
News Corp's British paper business, and as the storm grew,
she had been deluged with messages of support from friends
"When it rains, it fucking pours," CNN's Morgan wrote in a
message to her. She replied: "Terrible, made me feel sick
watching the news, can't believe any reporter could do that,
must have been Mulcaire.
"If it wasn't a staffer, you have got to get that out there
fast," Morgan responded before informing her that her name
was trending worldwide on the Twitter social media site.
"He's an avid twit," she said to roars of laughter in the
court before explaining Morgan was a constant user of
The pressure continued the following day, not least because a
decision by the government over whether to refer News Corp's
BSkyB bid had been imminent.
That evening she heard from Blair. "Thinking of you. Anything
I can help you with. I have been through things like this,"
In another exchange, the court heard she told a friend who
had suggested the anger directed at her was misogynist:
"Feeling slightly like a sexist witch hunt at times."
Days after news of the Dowler hack, the decision was taken to
close the News of the World. She said when she held a heated
meeting with staff after the announcement, there had been
anger that while they were losing their jobs, she was keeping
Brooks said she had first considered her position when it was
suggested she might be arrested. But she said there was no
immediate suggestion she should quit from her bosses
including Murdoch's son James, in charge of News
International at the time.
Rupert Murdoch flew into London on July 10 to deal with the
growing scandal when she said her future was among the issues
he had to address. "He asked me not to (resign)," she said.
Brooks denies conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemails,
authorising illegal payments to public officials and
perverting the course of justice.
Her trial and that of six others continues.