News Corp journalists are speculating that Rebekah Brooks may be parachuted into a senior position at the company’s Australian arm, now she has been cleared of phone hacking, corruption and conspiracy charges.
However her return to the Murdoch media group could generate resentment among rank and file journalists, some of whom believe the company sacrificed its low-level reporters in order to protect its executives from the hacking scandal fallout.
Brooks has no current official role within News Corp or its related companies, after walking away with an £11 million ($20 million) payout after resigning as chief executive of News International, publisher of News of the World, at the height of the phone hacking scandal.
However a source within the company said she has been “telling a wide number of people she is going back to work at News” – and several had guessed the most likely destination would be News Corp in Australia.
“She never really cut ties with News International,” the source said.
A spokesperson for News International declined to comment on Brooks’ future at the company, and Fairfax was unable to contact Mrs Brooks for comment.
Brooks could also pop up in New York, home of News Corp’s international headquarters.
Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch, now a New York-based columnist for the Sun on Sunday, tweeted support for Brooks shortly following the verdict and suggested they could be working together in the near future.
“I cannot wait to work with Rebekah Brooks I hope I get the opportunity very soon. Literally could not be happier,” she said.
A UK journalist with inside knowledge of News International who tweets under the name "Tabloid Troll” – but did not want to be identified when Fairfax spoke to him – said Brooks had been “saved” by the verdict.
But there was some level of resentment against her within the company, he said.
“She walked off with £13 million and now may be re-employed by News Corp – why can she be but not the people under her?” he said.
Recently the Sun had tried to employ a former News of the World journalist – not the subject of any phone hacking charges – but the appointment had been blocked by the company’s New York headquarters, the journalist said.
“There is the feeling that News Corp has walked away from this,” he said. “Rebekah being cleared gives the suggestion that this didn’t go to the upper reaches of management. There’s the feeling that News Corp has dropped all sorts of people in this unnecessarily.
“They are supporting some people but not others.”