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Ex–News International boss Brooks denies bribing cops

Says she only recently learned of Milly Dowler phone hacking

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News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch stood by Rebekah Brooks this afternoon at a parliamentary hearing about the phone-hacking scandal at his sister company News International.

Brooks, of course, resigned from her job as NI CEO on 15 July. Two days later she was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and of corruption allegations relating to illegal police payments.

Murdoch told MPs that he "believed her and trusted her, and I do trust her," when asked about Brooks' exit from News International.

He explained that she "insisted" on leaving the company and claimed her initial survival had nothing to do with the closure of NI's tabloid newspaper the News of the World.

Murdoch said he couldn't comment on the possibility of editors not knowing about phone-hacking methods taking place at the newspaper, given the ongoing police investigations.

"It was my understanding that [Colin] Myler [the tabloid's final editor] was appointed by [Les] Hinton [Murdoch's right-hand man for 52 years until last Friday when he submitted his resignation, hours after Brooks' exit was confirmed] to find out what the hell was going on. That is my understanding of it. I cannot swear to the accuracy of it," he said.

Brooks, who is currently being grilled by MPs, said she "never paid a police officer or knowingly sanctioned payment to a police officer".

She said that the "News of the World employed private investigators like most papers in Fleet Street" in the late 90s and early 2000s.

However, Brooks – who edited the Sunday tabloid from 2000 to 2003 – claimed that she didn't typically authorise payments to such individuals, even though she did acquire a budget from senior management for the running of the paper.

"The managing editor authorises final payments," she said,"unless there is a particularly big item ... then the editor will be brought in."

She claimed she had no knowledge at the time that a phone belonging to Milly Dowler, who was murdered in 2002, had been hacked by an employee working on the NotW.

"When I first heard of it was two weeks ago. Sorry, but that's how it is." ®

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