Rebekah Brooks has resigned as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International over the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed the company.
Brooks has worked for Murdoch for 22 years and become a close member of his inner circle after rising from the newsdesk to edit the Sun and then the News of the World.
She told News International staff her resignation would give her greater freedom to rebut the allgations criticising her time as editor and chief executive – and to respond to the House of Commons committee she must appear at on Tuesday.
“As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place,” she said in the statement.
“However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.
This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past.”
“Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted.”
Tom Mockridge, CEO of News Corp's Italian pay TV arm Sky Italia, will replace Brooks.
Brooks' resignation comes after intense political pressure in both the UK and US over allegations that News International newspapers hacked the phones of murder victims, war dead, and even 9/11 bombing victims.
The public disgust that erupted over these reports has so far forced Murdoch to shut down the News of the World and pull an £8bn bid to buy the shares he does not own in satellite broadcaster BSkyB.