Brooks got HK$87m pay-off when she quit Murdoch's empire amid phone-hacking claims

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 5:02am

Former newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks was handed a pay-off totalling more than £7 million (HK$87 million) after she resigned as head of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper group last year, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

Brooks, 44, the woman at the heart of a scandal shaking Murdoch's media empire and the British government, is awaiting trial next year on charges linked to phone-hacking at one of her newspapers.

The FT cites two people with knowledge of her compensation package as saying the pay-off - far in excess of the £1.7 million that was speculated about after her departure - consisted of cash and pension payments.

It also included an allowance for legal fees and the use of a chauffeur-driven car.

Two of the people cited by the newspaper said the pay-off also included substantial claw-back clauses for her former employer, News International.

These entitle News International, the British arm of News Corporation, to recover some of the payment from Brooks in certain circumstances, according to a third person familiar with the details of her exit package.

The Guardian newspaper said it was understood the claw-backs would be enforceable if Brooks were to be convicted of a crime related to her employment.

A spokeswoman for News International declined to comment and a spokesman for Brooks could not be reached.

Brooks started out as a secretary at the News Of The World before rising to become editor of the weekly newspaper, then its daily counterpart, The Sun.

She also became one of Murdoch's most trusted lieutenants, with her boss famously declaring that Brooks was his top priority as he took her out to dinner at the height of the hacking scandal.