Rebekah Brooks Says Role In News Corp.'s Bid for BSkyB Was Informal

Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch - Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival - Day 3 - H - 2010
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The former CEO of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit tells the Leveson Inquiry that she knew of the bid plans "weeks" before the public.

LONDON -- Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of News Corp.'s News International newspaper unit in the U.K., described her role in the conglomerate's failed bid to acquire full control of U.K. pay TV operator BSkyB, as "informal."

Testifying before the media ethics panel Friday, Brooks admitted to knowing about the proposed bid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. before it was made public but denied having any "formal" role in the acquisition strategy as News International CEO at the time.

The Leveson Inquiry also heard Brooks agreeing that she did end up lobbying her burgeoning political contacts on the bid's worth on an "informal basis".

Brooks also said she heard the internal codename for the multibillion-dollar bid, "Rubicon," about six weeks before the bid was mounted.

When asked who had chosen the codename, Brooks said, "I think it might have been James Murdoch" but then added that she didn't know.

She went on to explain her role further.

"I did have an informal role, as you suggest, mainly after the formation of the anti-Sky bid alliance because that brought News International into what was a News Corp. transaction because the anti-Sky alliance was ... well, everyone else," Brooks said. "They were using their own news outlets to promote their view and lobby politicians. I probably did get involved."

Brooks drew reference to the sheer scale of opposition to the BSkyB deal in other media outlets, citing the BBC, The Daily Mail and other newspapers reporting from an anti-deal standpoint.

She was also asked about how close her links were with British Culture Cecretary Jeremy Hunt, whose role in the BSkyB remains under scrutiny. Brooks said she didn't know Hunt.

She also was asked if she had raised the takeover with Cameron -- for example, whether it was discussed when she had dinner with him in December 2010.

"It was mentioned but not widely discussed," Brooks said. :It was mentioned because it was in the news because Dr. [Vince] Cable had resigned from that role," she said.