Jon Gaunt: Rebekah will stay to protect Murdoch heir

Former Sun columnist Jon Gaunt said last night Rebekah Brooks won’t resign as chief executive of News International because to do so would put her boss James Murdoch in the firing line.

Gaunt worked for The Sun for six years, first as a columnist, then as the presenter of the paper’s shortlived attempt to launch an internet radio station, SunTalk, which closed last July.

Speaking at a debate held as part of the launch party in London for the website Huffington Post UK he said: ‘I think what she should do is look hard in the mirror because if that was somebody who ran Easyjet or ICI or any other big public company they would probably say the buck stops with me.

‘So Rebekah should probably think on that. I’m not going to sit here and say she should go.

‘I don’t think she will go because if she goes the attention will change on to James. James Murdoch is the heir apparent and I don’t think Rupert Murdoch will allow that so that’s why I think she will probably survive. I would look in the mirror and say I’ve messed up.”

Brooks was editor of the News of the World in 2002 at the time an investigator working for the newspaper allegedly hacked into the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. It emerged yesterday that she may have been on holiday at the time the alleged hacking happened.

Brooks was made chief executive of News of the World publisher News International in June 2009. Her immediate boss is News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch’s son James – who is chief executive for News Corp in Europe and Asia.

Speaking at the same debate Arianna Huffington said: ‘If she knew about this she should resign because she’s culpable, if she didn’t she should resign because she is negligent…That’s what leadership is about.

‘For her to say she was on vacation when this happened…This is laughable.”

When asked by panel chairman Richard Bacon when she thought Brooks would resign, Huffington said: ‘Someone on this panel who shall remain nameless predicted the weekend. I trust that person and I won’t detail what they said to me privately.”

The other panelists were former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, Kelly Osborne and Telegraph journalist Celia Walden.

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