FT: Phone-hacking scandal chief got $11.3M

Oct. 16, 2012 at 3:00 AM
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LONDON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper chain gave its disgraced ex-chief $11.3 million and a chauffeur-driven car after she quit, the Financial Times reported.

The cash and pension payments News Corp.'s NI Group Ltd. made to Rebekah Brooks are more than four times the $2.7 million she was previously reported to have received after resigning, the newspaper said.

Brooks resigned July 15, 2011, following widespread criticism of her role in a phone-hacking scandal that also involved alleged police bribery and other improper influence in the pursuit of news stories.

The payment deal, which includes so-called clawback clauses that let NI Group recover some of Brooks' compensation in certain circumstances, does not include a legal-fee allowance the publisher is paying to defend Brooks in the scandal, the Times said.

Brooks was chief executive officer of NI Group, known at the time as News International, from 2009 to 2011, when revelations emerged about the hacking's widespread extent. She was earlier editor of Murdoch's now-shuttered News of the World tabloid, at the scandal's center, and then of The Sun tabloid, also implicated in the scandal.

The Times said it received the information about Brooks' compensation from three people with knowledge of the arrangement.

It published the story Tuesday, the day News Corp. was to hold its annual stockholders meeting at the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot in Los Angeles.

An NI Group spokesperson declined to comment on the compensation. Brooks and News Corp. had no immediate comment.

Murdoch -- News Corp.'s 81-year-old founder, chairman and chief executive officer -- described hacking victims in a Twitter message Saturday as "scumbag celebrities."

His characterization, which he has not apologized for despite growing calls for him to do so, was part of a message critical of talks that took place between British Prime Minister David Cameron and members of Hacked Off, which describes itself as a campaign for a free and accountable media in the wake of the devastating scandal.

Murdoch, whose Twitter account has more than 341,000 followers, wrote: "Told UK's Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad."

Murdoch faced angry complaints about the scandal at last year's annual stockholders meeting.

He said on Twitter Thursday he was preparing for Tuesday's meeting, which he said signs indicated would be "pretty peaceful" -- then added, "any shareholders with complaints should take profits and sell!"

Brooks, 44, faces three charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. She also faces three counts of conspiracy to intercept the communications of well-known people between 2000 and 2006, when she was editor of News of the World and then The Sun.

She additionally faces two charges of conspiracy in connection with News of the World's hacking into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl abducted and murdered in 2002.

Brooks, a friend and confidante of Cameron, has condemned the hacking and said she knew nothing about it.

Her trial is set to begin Sept. 9, 2013.

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