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UK hacking furore turns into 'sexist witch hunt'

Published on Mar 4, 2014 11:57 PM

LONDON (REUTERS) - Rebekah Brooks, former boss of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm, told a London court on Tuesday the media mogul had persuaded her not to quit amid public revulsion over the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl's phone.

Brooks, on trial for phone-hacking offences, said a 2011 report that journalists on Murdoch's News of the World tabloid had tapped the voicemail messages of 13-year-old Milly Dowler had caused a national scandal, with her at its centre, describing it at the time as a "sexist witch hunt".

Despite the furore, Mr Murdoch and other senior figures told her not to resign, and she told the Old Bailey court that amid the public disgust and condemnation, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and CNN talk show host Piers Morgan had also contacted her to offer support.

The outrage began on July 4, 2011, when the Guardian newspaper reported that journalists from the News of the World (NoW) had accessed voicemails on the girl's mobile phone while she was missing nine years earlier, and had deleted some, giving her parents false hope that she was still alive.

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