BROOKS RESIGNS! – Murdoch disarray continues

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NEWS International chief executive Rebekah Brooks resigned yesterday morning, thrown overboard by Murdoch as he sought to get a grip on News International’s runaway crisis.

This action cut no ice with those who have been the victims of hacking, such as former Labour government deputy prime minister John Prescott.

He said: ‘The biggest culprit is Rupert Murdoch. All these others are bit players.’

Prescott added: ‘If we don’t deal with him he will just go back to the same old practices.’

He continued that it was important to ensure that there was no return to ‘business as usual’.

Accusing News International of being in danger of becoming ‘crime international’, the former deputy prime minister said that he had warned Cameron against hiring ex-news of the world editor Andy Coulson.

Prescott added that for ex-Met Police Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, and former DPP Lord Macdonald, to accept work from News International was ‘an unacceptable action’ which held questions of conflict of interest.

The Dowler family’s lawyer Mark Lewis commented that Rebekah Brooks’ resignation came ‘too late, she should have left when Andy Coulson left in

2006, she should have left last week when the family asked her to’.

Ex-Labour City minister Lord Myners accused Prime Minister Cameron and his government of ‘vacillating on every decision’ in relation to News International.

Opening a House of Lords debate on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the media and the police, Myners added that the government had to be ‘dragged’ to take action over the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who has been a leading critic over the phone hacking scandal, said: ‘Frankly, she should have gone when she said she had paid police officers for information back in 2003.’

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said: ‘It is right that Rebekah Brooks has finally taken responsibility for the terrible events that happened on her watch, like the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone.

‘Rupert Murdoch says that News Corp has handled these allegations “extremely well”. He still hasn’t apologised to the innocent victims of hacking. He clearly still doesn’t get it.

‘When he comes to the House of Commons next week, people will expect him to start taking some responsibility and apologise for the illegal actions which happened in his organisation.’

Commenting on Brooks’ resignation, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘This is too little too late. We all know she has worked hand-in-glove with James Murdoch and they are equally culpable in terms of the cover up.’

Meanwhile, Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson is under pressure to explain how Scotland Yard came to employ former News of the World executive editor Nick Wallis as a PR consultant.

Wallis, who was arrested and questioned for several hours on Thursday, was employed as recently as last year as sick leave cover for the force’s deputy director of public affairs.

Home Secretary Theresa May has written to Stephenson to get ‘the full picture’ regarding Wallis.

The Labour chairman of the House of Commons home affairs committee, Keith Vaz, has also asked the commissioner to appear before the panel of MPs investigating phone hacking next Tuesday.

Wallis joined the NoW as deputy editor in 2003, and served under editor Andy Coulson, who was arrested by detectives last week.

He became executive editor of the Sunday tabloid in 2007, the same year Coulson left.

The Met has confirmed that Wallis’ PR firm Chamy Media was employed in 2009 and last year to ‘provide strategic communication advice and support’ while the force’s deputy director of public affairs was on sick leave.