Rebekah Brooks to Return to News Corp as CEO of U.K. Unit

News Corp. Phone Hacking Charges and Settlements

In 2011, one of the biggest international media industry stories was the phone hacking scandal at the News International U.K. newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The past year brought settlements with such celebrities as Hugh Grant and singer/actress Charlotte Church. But it also brought formal charges against former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and others on charges of hacking. Brooks and others are also accused of conspiring to "pervert the course of justice." Trials are expected to start in the fall of 2013. More fallout will come in the new year from the Leveson Inquiry report that proposed stricter regulation of the British press, which is currently being hotly debated.

She left the post amid the phone-hacking scandal, but was last year cleared of all charges.

Rebekah Brooks is returning to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp as CEO of the company's News UK unit, the media giant said on Wednesday, making the appointment official.

She had left the post as head of the company's U.K. newspaper arm amid the phone-hacking scandal. She was last year found not guilty on all counts in one the hacking-related trials.

Last year, she started looking at new career opportunities. It emerged in the fall that News Corp was among the companies that met with the former News of the World and The Sun editor. She was at the company's New York office during a visit to the U.S. in October, a source told THR at the time.

She will serve as CEO of News UK, replacing the departing Mike Darcey, who led the unit for three years. The Sun editor, David Dinsmore, will become her COO. Brooks will take over effective on Sept. 7, with Dinsmore's appointment effective in the coming weeks.

News UK is the home to The Times, The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The Sun and The Sun on Sunday.

Brooks is returning to the post that she held four years ago with added responsibilities for "the acquisition and development of digital properties," News Corp said. She has been working closely with the team at Storyful, the world's first and most successful video news agency, which supplies many companies, including Facebook and Vice, it added. Past reports had said she may head up Storyful and other digital properties before reports last week indicated that she would become News UK CEO again.

"I am delighted to return to News UK," Brooks said. "It is a privilege to be back amongst the most talented journalists and executives in the business. I am confident that we can meet the many challenges of this digital age with a combination of cutting-edge technologies and world-class journalism."

News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said: "Rebekah will lead a great team at News UK into the digital future, while maximizing the influence and reach of our newspapers, which remain the most informative and successful in Britain and beyond. Her expertise, excellence and leadership will be crucial as we work to extend our relationship with readers and advertisers, and develop our digital platforms to take full advantage of our brilliant journalism."

In a staff memo, he wrote that the executive changes "will ensure we continue to develop journalism that makes a profoundly positive difference and to transform publications that engage millions of readers, who are a valuable audience for our advertisers." Added Thomson: "Rebekah is wonderfully qualified to bolster our mastheads in an era of exponential change. She will be working with David and all at News UK to bring our quality journalism to ever more readers, while giving advertisers even better ways to reach the audiences they need. With her drive and her acumen, she will also play a key role in helping News Corp acquire and develop digital properties that bolster our businesses and extend our expertise."

Between 2003 and 2009, Brooks was editor of The Sun, and from 2000 to 2003 she served as editor of the News of the World tabloid that News Corp shuttered amid the hacking scandal. She started her career at the News of the World as a feature writer for its Sunday magazine in 1989.

Brooks is understood to have spent much of the past year on the East and West coasts of the U.S., visiting News Corp businesses and established and cutting-edge technology companies to deepen her knowledge of the company's operations and the digital landscape.

"Dinsmore has done a masterful job at The Sun, and is richly deserving of this major promotion," Thomson also said in his memo before emphasizing his role in helping to ensure that the news brands matter in the digital age. "He has a keen understanding of the material and social value of journalism in the electronic epoch and will serve News UK with initiative and integrity as he takes on this new role."

News Corp also lauded Darcey for his work, saying he "stabilized the company and showed leadership in developing digital models for newspaper properties and oversaw the transition to mobile formats." Thompson said: "We pay particular tribute to Mike Darcey for his years of service to News Corp and his sterling contribution to Sky's success. He came to News UK when the commercial challenges were acute, and ably and admirably steered the business through those turbulent waters."

Tony Gallagher, deputy editor of the Daily Mail since 2014 and previously editor of the Daily Telegraph since 2009, will be the new editor of The Sun. "It is my great pleasure and honor to be taking charge at The Sun. It's a job I couldn't possibly turn down and I'm looking forward to working closely with Rebekah, David and the rest of the team," said Gallagher.

He joined the Telegraph in 2006 after serving as head of news at the Daily Mail during a tenure that also saw him work on the launch of MailOnline.