Brooks admits using private detectives

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, said she was shocked to hear that murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, but admitted the paper had used private detectives when she was editor.

Brooks, who was giving evidence to the House of Commons media select committee, apologised again for the alleged voicemail intercepts but said she had no knowledge of the practices or payments to police.

She admitted that the News of the World had employed private detectives but denied ever meeting them directly.

And she backtracked on her previous claim to a parliamentary committee in 2007 that the paper had paid police for information.

“You've had various crime editors from Fleet Street discussing in the past (that) payments have been made to police officers. I was referring to that wide-held belief not widespread practice,” she said.

“In my experience of dealing with the police, the information they give to newspapers comes free of charge.”

Brooks gave evidence after her former employers James and Rupert Murdoch over several hours this afternoon.

The Murdochs again denied all knowledge of the phone hacking allegations until they were exposed recently.

"I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case only two weeks ago,” Rupert Murdoch told the committee.

But James Murdoch also denied that a Sun on Sunday – a replacement to the closed News of the World – was planned by News International.

"There are no immediate plans for that ... That is not the company's priority now. This is not the time to be worrying about that,” he said.