Murdoch's former chief executive has crack team of legal and PR advisers
Unclear whether Brooks will still give evidence to MPs
Brooks: arrest was a surprise after whe met officers at a
London police station on Sunday. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA
Rebekah Brooks did not know she was going to become the 10th person
arrested in the phone-hacking investigation when her resignation as News
International's chief executive was announced on Friday.
It is understood that the appointment to be interviewed by police was
not in her diary until Friday evening, hours after she left the company
after 22 years.
It was not until she met officers at a London police station that she
learned she was being arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept
communications and on suspicion of corruption.
"It was quite a surprise," her spokesman said.
Minutes after Brooks was taken into custody at midday, David Wilson, the
chairman of the public relations agency Bell Pottinger, had been asked
by her lawyers to handle press inquiries.
"Over the coming weeks she will continue to press her innocence," said
Wilson, who was on the PR team aiding Madeleine McCann's parents during
the first weeks after her abduction. "She intends to clear her name."
It was unclear on Sunday night whether Brooks will give evidence as
planned to MPs on the culture, media and sport's select committee.
Members were taking legal advice. James and Rupert Murdoch are scheduled
Wilson said Brooks had been "offering since January to assist in any way
that she could, and only last week the police were saying she wasn't on
He added: "Her resignation and her agreement to attend the select
committee hearing on Tuesday seem to have prompted a change of tack."
Brooks – who had resigned after huge pressure, with calls from across
the political spectrum for her to go – is beginning to assemble a crack
team of advisers. Her legal representative is Stephen Parkinson of
Kingsley Napley solicitors, whose website describes him as frequently
representing "high-profile individuals caught up in criminal or
Parkinson advised Tony Blair and his cabinet on the Hutton inquiry, and
Sir Ian Blair and other officers during investigations arising out of
the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell.
Wilson and his colleagues at the agency founded by Lord Tim Bell,
Margaret Thatcher's favourite spin doctor, are veteran crisis management
experts, having handled everything from Eurostar trains stuck in tunnels
to allegations of information theft in Formula 1.
Brooks was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept
communications, and on suspicion of corruption, according to a statement
from the Metropolitan police. She was interviewed with regard to both
Operation Weeting, which is looking into phone hacking, and Operation
Elveden, which is looking at allegations of payments to police officers.
The last two weeks have seen Brooks, the former News International chief
executive, transformed from the Murdoch empire's closest link to
Britain's political elite to an outsider facing criminal charges and
fighting to salvage her reputation.
On Saturday 2 July, she was a guest at an all-night party hosted by PR
boss Matthew Freud and his wife, Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, at their
Cotswolds mansion, Burford Priory. The event was nothing less than a
gathering of the country's political and media masters.
The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, and his star reporter Robert
Peston rubbed shoulders with Peter Mandelson, Labour leader Ed
Miliband's brother, David, and the education secretary, Michael Gove.
According to reports, Brooks was not as gregarious as usual, spending
much of the evening locked in conversation with her boss, James Murdoch,
and other News International executives.
The following Monday, the Guardian broke the news that murdered
schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail messages had not only allegedly been
hacked, but that they may have been deleted to make room for new
messages, giving her parents the false hope that she was still alive.
On Thursday 7 July, the decision was taken to close the News of the
Announcing his decision, James Murdoch stood by his key lieutenant,
saying: "Fundamentally, I am satisfied that Rebekah, her leadership in
this business and her standard of ethics and her standard of conduct
throughout her career are very good."
When Rupert Murdoch flew in to London last week to take charge of the
crisis, one of his first acts was to signal his full support for Brooks
by taking her to dinner in Mayfair. Asked what his priority was, he
replied, indicating Brooks: "This one."
Calls for her resignation swiftly followed – from Dowler's parents, the
deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband. By Friday morning,
following further revelations and the withdrawal of News Corp's bid for
its satellite TV subsidiary Sky, had fallen on her sword.
Brooks, 43, got her first job in Fleet Street while still a teenager,
joining Eddie Shah's short-lived tabloid, the Post, as features
secretary. After the Post closed she arrived at the News of the World's
magazine, where she was quickly promoted by the then editor, Piers
By the age of 29, she was deputy editor of the Sun. At 32, she became
the youngest national newspaper editor in the company when Rupert
Murdoch gave her the top job at the News of the World. Three years later
she was editing the Sun.
During her six years at the helm of the paper, she made her name
exposing Angus Deayton and Prince Harry's drug taking, and initiated the
notorious campaign for "Sarah's law", naming and shaming sex offenders
in the wake of the murder of another schoolgirl, Sarah Payne.
Her one previous arrest, in 2005, was under very different
circumstances. She was picked up by police after allegedly assaulting
her then husband, the EastEnders actor Ross Kemp. The TV hardman
sustained a cut to the mouth but no charges were brought.
Back then, Brooks was editor of the Sun. Rupert Murdoch is said to have
sent a designer suit to the police station so she would look her best
when she left the cells. With typical bravado, she went straight to the
office. After uttering the words: "Much happening today?" she took
control of the news conference and ordered a carefully worded frontpage
story on the incident. While the team of advisers Brooks has assembled
will help to fight her corner, she can no longer command a national
newspaper to back her.