After 52 years, mogul's ally quits to protect jewel of US empire

Within hours of Rebekah Brooks tendering her resignation as head of News International, her predecessor Les Hinton, one of Rupert Murdoch's closest lieutenants in the United States, fell on his sword, saying that the pain his reporters had inflicted on innocent people was "unimaginable".

Mr Hinton has been the publisher of The Wall Street Journal since Mr Murdoch bought it in 2007 and his continuing presence was threatening to drag the media mogul's prize US newspaper asset into the scandal.

"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 News of the World," Mr Hinton said in a resignation letter.

Mr Hinton's departure is a personal blow to Mr Murdoch. The men have known each other for 52 years, since UK-born Mr Hinton landed a job at the mogul's first newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, where his family had relocated. In a letter to staff at Dow Jones, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal, Mr Murdoch reminisced yesterday how one of the then 15-year-old Mr Hinton's first jobs was to bring him sandwiches each day. "Little did we both realise that we would be travel companions on a journey through the world of magazines, Hollywood, television studios, coupons and the greatest newspapers on the globe," Mr Murdoch said. "Little did we realise that our corporate relationship would end in these circumstances."

News Corp, with its new public-relations advisers, Edelman, has been trying to prevent the scandal from spreading to the US, where the FBI is already investigating rumours that NOTW journalists tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims. Revelations about the unseemly side of British tabloid journalism threatened to undermine the integrity of The Wall Street Journal and Mr Hinton is expected to be called upon to give lengthy evidence to the inquiry in the UK.

It was clear last night that Edelman's strategy included clearing out executives who appear either to have covered up the hacking scandal or, at least, failed to properly investigate hacking claims.

Mr Hinton was the executive chairman of New International at the time of the 2007 internal report and gave an assurance to MPs that year that a "full, rigorous internal inquiry" had been conducted, which had left him convinced that hacking was restricted to the royal reporter, Clive Goodman. Mr Hinton pointed out the investigation would continue. The testimony to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was the start of what became News International's "rogue-reporter" defence that phone hacking was restricted entirely to Goodman and Mulcaire – a stance that was finally abandoned this January only when emails implicating another NOTW journalist were surrendered to Scotland Yard.

In further evidence to MPs in 2009, Mr Hinton said he remained happy that NOTW had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to uncover any additional evidence and nothing had been found. "Efforts made to discover any other wrongdoing had been conscientious and thorough," he said.

"My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly," Mr Hinton said last 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. If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it."

After working as a foreign reporter in the US for the company, Mr Hinton became an executive and was flown to the US to assume control of The Wall Street Journal.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

PPC Manager

£30,000 - £35,000: Sauce Recruitment: PPC Manager urgently required for indepe...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor