Journalists plotted no-confidence vote in Brooks

Hours before being told that the News of the World was going to close, journalists at the paper were plotting to vote on a no-confidence motion in News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

Press Gazette understands that the motion – being put together by National Union of Journalists members at The Sun and the News of the World – was fuelled by concern over changes to shift patterns around moves to seven day working.

But there was also growing resentment at the News of the World this week that Brooks had failed to resign in response to the Milly Dowler phone-hacking allegations.

Brooks told News of the World journalists at 4.15pm yesterday that the paper was to be closed down in response to the continuing fallout over the phone-hacking scandal.

The scandal escalated to a new level on Tuesday when allegations emerged that an investigator working for the News of the World may have hacked the mobile phone voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, when Brooks was editor.

Yesterday afternoon, before the shock announcement that the News of the World was to close, Press Gazette understands that there was growing resentment at the paper that Brooks was still in her job.

Journalists felt frustrated that most of them were not at the paper in 2002. The News of the World had been unable to defend itself by pointing this out because to do so would direct the blame firmly at Brooks.

One insider spoke of ‘growing restlessness and anger’inside the News of the World over the fact that Brooks had yet to resign.

When she made the announcement to staff that the paper was to close some were expecting her to announce her own exit.

On 29 June, News International announced a management shake-up with Richard Caseby made group managing editor across the Sun and the News of the World and Anoushka Healy made group managing editor of The Times and Sunday Times.

At the time Brooks said: ‘Where appropriate we will find ways of introducing seven-day-working.’Press Gazette understands that this has led to sub-editors on The Sun being consulted over moving from a four-day-a-week shift pattern to a nine-day fortnight incorporating more weekend working.

The NUJ said that following yesterday’s announcement that the News of the World was to close sub-editors on The Sun walked out in protest.

NUJ national newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said there was a lot of anger among members at the News of the World over yesterday’s decision to close the paper.

He said: ‘Most of those people are totally innocent and to lose their jobs in this abrupt and totally brutal way is appalling really. Clearly it is part of a firewall which is being built up to protect the BSkyB bid.”

Speaking to Sky News yesterday, News Corporation Europe and Asia chief executive James Murdoch pledged his support to Rebekah Brooks.

He said: ‘I’m convinced that Rebekah Brooks’ leadership of the company is doing the right thing.”

When asked if she should go, he said: ‘No, her leadership is crucial and is moving this thing forward.’

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