How the outsiders took control

Elisabeth Murdoch could yet be her father's saviour

A fake sheikh famously helped to secure dozens of scoops for Rebekah Brooks during her tenure as editor of the News of the World. On Thursday it was the words of a real Saudi prince that should have alerted us.

Sitting on the upper deck of his £60m yacht, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the second biggest shareholder in News Corp after Rupert Murdoch, said if Ms Brooks had shown any sign of explicit involvement in the phone-hacking scandal, "for sure she has to go – you bet she has to go".

In an interview for BBC2's Newsnight, Prince Al-Waleed, the Cannes Croisette shimmering behind him, was more enthusiastic about Rupert and James Murdoch. The die was cast. What stronger inference could there be that Ms Brooks was about to be thrown overboard?

The following morning it was reported that Rupert's daughter Elisabeth had told friends Ms Brooks had "fucked the company". The two friends suddenly appeared to have fallen out.

At 9.52am on Friday morning Ms Brooks was gone. Rupert Murdoch issued a head-in-hands apology to the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered teenager whose phone was hacked. Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton, his friend of 50 years and the former chairman of NI who told Parliament in 2007 there was no evidence of widespread phone hacking, jumped ship later that day.

What had changed since Sunday, when Ms Brooks and Rupert Murdoch smirked their way past photographers as they went out to dinner in Mayfair, the 80-year-old tycoon declaring that "this one" – Ms Brooks – was his number one priority?

In truth, Ms Brooks's fate had been decided earlier. The News of the World had been axed in the hope of calming criticism, but to no avail. The mob was demanding that the Murdochs' bid for BSkyB be put on hold, at the very least. Despite this, the waves caused by the phone-hacking scandal in Britain had begun lapping on the American east coast, with the FBI announcing an investigation into claims that victims of 9/11 had been hacked.

The apparent arrogance of Ms Brooks and Mr Murdoch, who had just flown into the UK on the day that the News of the World had printed its final edition, caused dismay. But in private, Elisabeth Murdoch was putting pressure on her father to do something about Ms Brooks.

By Monday, this pressure was unrelenting. Again, it was the condemnation of Milly Dowler's family that was pivotal. A week after it had emerged that the girl's phone was hacked by the News of the World under Ms Brooks's editorship, the Dowlers called for her to resign as chief executive of News International. This focused minds and an urgent plan to stop the contagion from bringing down the entire Murdoch empire was drawn up.

On Tuesday, US-based public relations firm Edelman was called in by News Corp to help to deal with the crisis. Chase Carey, News Corp's president and chief operating officer, was also in London. Mr Carey, who spoke for key US investors alarmed at the plummeting share price, was instrumental in persuading Mr Murdoch to withdraw the bid for BSkyB, a move which caused shock when it was announced on Wednesday.

But neither Edelman nor Mr Carey was immediately involved in Rupert Murdoch's strategic response to the crisis. Mr Murdoch held a series of meetings with the same seven men who would map out the rescue plan. In public on Tuesday, the 80-year-old appeared frail as he hobbled round Hyde Park with his personal trainer, and in private it was at these meetings that these younger executives were managing the crisis for him.

At the key meetings, besides Mr Murdoch and his two sons, James and Lachlan, were: Joel Klein, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, News International general manager Will Lewis, Matthew Anderson, News Corp's group director of strategy and corporate affairs in Europe and Asia, NI PR chief Simon Greenberg and Jeff Palker, News Corp's European and Asian general counsel.

It was decided on Tuesday that Ms Brooks should go – it took until Friday for her replacement, Tom Mockridge, the head of Sky Italia, to be put into position. It was also clear that Les Hinton had to go because he was in charge of News International at the time. Adverts in national newspapers yesterday, apologising for the scandal, were lined up. There was a decision to establish a management standards committee to oversee good practice in News Corp. It will be independent of News International and run out of New York, overseen by Mr Klein.

But are these moves too late? This week, The New York Times plans to run a story about Ms Brooks's role in phone hacking, and she and Rupert and James Murdoch are to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday.

Suddenly, Elisabeth Murdoch's role in the future of the company is now seen as the way to rescue the reputation of the Murdochs. News Corp insiders say that Rupert Murdoch wants to speed up plans for his 42-year-old daughter to join the board. Yet US investors want control to be handed to Mr Carey. Some are calling for James Murdoch to quit as News Corp deputy operating officer.

On Thursday, Prince Al-Waleed declared: "We hope that as things unfold the truth will come out." What is clear in this story is that nobody knows what will come out next.

The key players who's calling the shots

Elisabeth Murdoch She may have denied saying that Rebekah Brooks had "fucked the company", but Ms Murdoch is said to have played a major part in Ms Brooks's resignation. Ms Murdoch left the family business in 2000 to pursue her own ventures, but returned to the fold this year on selling her production company, Shine, to her father's empire. Ms Brooks's exit – and fears that her brother James's credibility may founder in front of MPs on Tuesday – bolster Ms Murdoch's position as heir to the News Corp throne.

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Delivered the shot that signalled that Rebekah Brooks's newspaper career was over. The remarks of News Corp's second-largest shareholder, in an interview with the BBC aboard his yacht in Cannes, broadcast on Thursday night, heralded her departure, which was announced the following day. The words, though measured, were telling: "If the indications are her [Brooks's] involvement in this matter is explicit, for sure she has to go, you bet she has to go." Within hours, she was gone.

Chase Carey Regarded as the ruthless business brain of News Corp, he is the man the company will look to, to steady the ship. The 57-year-old is now at the heart of News Corp for a second time, after overhauling its US television network Fox. As president, chief operating officer and deputy chairman, he is seen by many shareholders as guardian of their profits and a brake on Murdoch's more fanciful ideas. Some have already backed him rather than James Murdoch as their preferred successor to Rupert as chairman.

Joel Klein Since the former head of New York City's school system was unveiled as the internal investigator for Murdoch, Klein has been tight-lipped about his duties. But with his legal background – particularly running the US Justice Department's antitrust division under Clinton – he is a shrewd choice for the job. Many assumed he was choosing the easy life of the private sector when he joined News Corp last November. In fact, the 64-year-old will need all of the skills garnered in his long career as a Washington lawyer.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
i100
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
News
i100
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?