Rebekah Brooks terms phone hacking ‘abhorrent’ (Lead)

July 20th, 2011 - 7:34 am ICT by IANS  

Sienna Miller London, July 20 (IANS) The News International group acted “quickly and decisively” in dealing with “abhorrent” phone hacking at the News of the World, the company’s former chief executive Rebekah Brooks told British MPs at a hearing.

The former News of the World editor said Tuesday the company moved to settle civil cases when claims by actress Sienna Miller emerged in 2010, BBC reported.

Brooks said she was “shocked” at reports that the tabloid’s journalists had hacked murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone.

She told the media committee she was always told hacking claims were untrue.

“We had been told by people at News of the World at the time - they consistently denied any of these allegations in various internal investigations,” she was quoted as saying.

“It was only when we saw the Sienna Miller documentation that we realised the severity of the situation.”

Brooks’s evidence came after her former boss Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News International’s parent company News Corp, and his son, News International chairman James Murdoch, appeared before the Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport.

The public were excluded during Brooks’ hearing after an attempted assault on Rupert Murdoch. There were rows of empty seats.

At the beginning of the hearing, Brooks said: “I would like to add my own personal apologies to the apologies that James and Rupert Murdoch have made today.”

“Allegations of voice intercepts, internet intercepts of victims of crime is pretty horrific and abhorrent and I wanted to reiterate that.”

Brooks is on bail after her arrest Sunday by detectives probing allegations of conspiring to intercept communications and corruption. She denies any wrongdoing.

Brooks said she hoped to be as “open as possible” and that she had “never knowingly sanctioned a payment to a police officer” in her career.

To a question from Labour MP Tom Watson on the use of private detectives by the News of the World, Brooks answered: “I was aware that the News of the World used private detectives, as every paper in Fleet Street did.”

But she denied she had met Glenn Mulcaire - who was convicted of phone hacking in 2007.

She said she believed Mulcaire first worked for the paper in the late 1990s before her tenure.

Brooks, who resigned from her post July 15, said her own phone messages were being accessed by Mulcaire.

The News of the World tabloid closed this month after reports emerged that said the voicemails of Milly Dowler had been hacked when the schoolgirl went missing in 2002 while Brooks was editor of the paper.

“The idea that Milly Dowler’s phone was accessed by someone being paid by the News of the World, or even worse authorised by someone at the News of the World, is as abhorrent to me as it is to everyone in this room,” Brooks said.

“I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would authorise, no, sanction, approval, anyone listening to the voicemails of Milly Dowler in those circumstances,” she said.

“I just don’t know anyone who would think it was the right and proper thing to do at this time or at any time.”

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