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9 July 2011

“This is not the best time in my life“

Recording of Rebekah Brooks's speech to staff is leaked as Rupert Murdoch arrives in the UK

By Sophie Elmhirst

Later today, Rupert Murdoch will arrive in London to try and curb the crisis engulfing News International. So far there have been three arrests (of Andy Coulson, former royal editor Clive Goodman and an unnamed man). Rebekah Brooks, meanwhile, is still in her job but is no longer leading the internal investigation into the company.

In a recording leaked to Sky News of the speech she gave to News of the World staff yesterday, Brooks says “this is not exactly the best time in my life”. She also takes aim at the BBC (“I often wonder what they will do without the News of the World [exclusives]”) and the Guardian (“I put out a statement today which will, like everything seems to, end up on the Media Guardian“), and describes a “Guardian/BBC witch-hunt” for her resignation. Brooks says she feels “very strongly the same as you”, as she talks to staff, and says that “she’s determined to get vindication for the paper”. Brooks also reveals that she was told by police that her phone had been regularly hacked by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

As for the decision to close the paper, she explains that it was as much a business decision as anything else after the withdrawal of the majority of the paper’s advertisers. Advertisers, she says, “are so willing to believe anything negative about the News of the World“. She claims that the management have not made any decisions on any new publications, saying it’s too soon – “we just don’t know what to do”. The anger of the staff in the room is palpable as they question Brooks about her decision not to resign. They also demand to know how she will salvage the reputations of innocent staff. Ultimately, Brooks says that her decision to stay is in part to see through further challenges on the horizon:

“We have more visibility perhaps on what we can see coming our way than you guys can, and look I can only, I’m tied because of the criminal investigation in what I can say, but I think in a year’s time every single one of you in this room might come up and say, ‘OK, well I see what you saw now’.”

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