The fallout from the phone-hacking scandal continued to escalate over the weekend as Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton resigned and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemails and corruption.
Brooks had been expected to be questioned but was read her rights after she arrived at a London police station yesterday. She is understood to have been questioned for nine hours before being released on police bail untIl October.
Hinton was chairman of News International from 1995 to 2007 – during the period when the News of the World was engaged in voicemail interception.
He was one of News International executives who gave evidence in 2009 to the Commons Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. They were accused of “collective amnesia” by MPs who were skeptical about claims that phone-hacking at the News of the World was limited to jailed royal reporter Clive Goodman.
Hinton said in a statement released on Friday night: “I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded.
“I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company.The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable.
“That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp and apologise to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World.
“When I left News International in December 2007, I believed that the rotten element at the News of the World had been eliminated; that important lessons had been learned; and that journalistic integrity was restored.
“My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly.
“When I appeared before the Committee in March 2007, I expressed the belief that Clive Goodman (former royal editor) had acted alone, but made clear our investigation was continuing.
“In September 2009, I told the committee there had never been any evidence delivered to me that suggested the conduct had spread beyond one journalist.
“If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it.”
He added: “I want to express my gratitude to Rupert for a wonderful working life. My admiration and respect for him are unbounded.
“He has built a magnificent business since I first joined 52 years ago and it has been an honour making my contribution.”
Murdoch paid tribute to the Hinton saying: “Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years.
“That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me.
“On this difficult day we should appreciate that his extraordinary work has provided a platform for the future success of Dow Jones.
“And his great contribution to News Corporation over more than five decades has enhanced innumerable lives, whether those of employees hired by him or of readers better informed because of him.
“News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch.
“It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world, and few individuals have given more to this company than Les Hinton.”
Following his departure, Dow Jones president Todd Larsen will report to News Corporation deputy chairman, president and CEO Chase Carey.
Hinton’s resignation means that all those News International staff who gave evidence the culture select committee are either on gardening leave or no-longer with the company.
They are: former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner (retired), former News of the World editor Colin Myler (believed to be on gardening leave following the closure of the paper); former editor Andy Coulson (resigned in 2007) and head of legal at the News of the World Tom Crone (he left the company last week).