Rebekah Brooks returning to News Corp as UK chief: FT report

LONDON (REUTERS) - Rebekah Brooks will return to her old job at News Corp heading its British newspaper division, the Financial Times reported on Friday, just over a year after being cleared of criminal charges in a phone-hacking scandal.

Her return to Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate could be as soon as early September, the Financial Times said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Reuters reported in March that Brooks, the former editor of the News of the World tabloid and seen as Murdoch’s protege, was in talks about returning to News Corp.

“As we have said, we have been having discussions with Rebekah Brooks and when we have any announcements to make we will let you know,” a News Corp spokesman said on Friday.

News UK, which covers Murdoch’s British newspaper titles, declined further comment.

British prosecutors also said on Friday they had received evidence relating to the phone-hacking investigation at the media baron’s newspapers and were mulling a possible corporate prosecution.

Brooks rose in 14 years from the most junior newsroom position to edit the country’s biggest selling newspaper.

She was a good friend of the last three British prime ministers including David Cameron, and was pictured by Murdoch’s side regularly.

She quit in July 2011 amid revelations that News of the World staff had hacked into the phones of thousands of people to break news.

The scandal started in 2006 when the former royal editor of News of the World, Clive Goodman, and his investigator Glenn Mulcaire, admitted they had hacked the phones of royal aides.

As revelations grew, police launched a wider investigation into hacking under the codename Operation Weeting in 2011 that led to the jailing for 18 months of the paper’s ex-editor Andy Coulson.

Brooks was arrested and charged with being part of a conspiracy to hack into phones to find exclusive stories, of authorising illegal payments to public officials and of trying to hinder the police investigation.

She denied all the charges and was found not guilty in June 2014 after an eight-month trial.