Overnight News Corp announced (though we all already knew) that Rebekah Brooks would return to run the UK operations of the Murdoch empire. She starts on Monday.

News Corp’s formal announcement of her return was a Murdochian masterpiece in avoiding the obvious.

“Rebekah Brooks was Chief Executive of News International Ltd from 2009 to 2011, during which time there was significant growth in newspaper operating profit, and The Times was a pioneer in paid-for digital subscriptions. Between 2003 and 2009, she was Editor of The Sun, and from 2000 to 2003 she served as Editor of the News of the World. She started her career at News of the World as a feature writer for the publication’s Sunday magazine in 1989.

“While she was at The Sun, the publication grew in circulation, and she supported a number of public campaigns, including Help for Heroes, a charity for soldiers wounded in war that raised tens of millions of pounds. At News of the World, Ms. Brooks spearheaded a campaign that led to the introduction of legislation combating child sex offenders known as ‘Sarah’s Law’. She was unanimously cleared last year by a jury of all charges related to investigations of various UK newspaper groups.”

Aside from the last line, there’s no mention of her time at the now defunct News of the World and its phone hacking, nor at The Sun and its claimed bribery of public officials, which forced her out of the warm embrace of the Murdochs in July 2013 and the closure of the paper at a eventual cost of more than US$1 billion in legal bills, redundancies, missed revenues and profits.

While the release paints the phone hacking as behind News Corp, it isn’t entirely. Chris Pharo and Jamie Pyatt are two Sun journalists who worked under Ms Brooks. The duo face retrial this month on charges of payments to public officials, and Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service is also considering whether to bring a corporate prosecution against News Corp. If the CPS does launch a prosecution, it will tell us that the Cameron Conservative government no longer feels beholden to the Murdoch empire. The decision will be one of the most important in relations between the UK political establishment and the media, especially with the controversial national referendum on continuing British membership of the EU. The EU is one of Rupert Murdoch’s least favourite subjects.

Peter Fray

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