Byline: Joe Murphy, Martin Bentham and Tom Harper
REBEKAH BROOKS sensationally quit as chief executive of News International today over the phone hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
She finally resigned after days of damaging revelations that her journalists had hacked phones belonging to murder victim Milly Dowler and allegedly the families of 9/11 victims. News International will now apologise to the nation.
The departure of the most powerful woman in British newspapers marks the end of an era. She had worked for the company for 22 years, editing both the Sun and the News of the World. In a message to staff Mrs Brooks, 43, said she was going because she had become the focal point of the story. She said: "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."
In other major developments today: Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson came under growing pressure from Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson over the payment of [pounds sterling]24,000 to former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who was arrested yesterday over the hacking scandal.
Rupert Murdoch sparked fury by saying that his companies and newspapers had made only "minor mistakes" in handling the scandals.
The FBI launched an investigation into claims that 9/11 victims were targeted for phone hacking, deepening the crisis in the vast Murdoch empire in the United States.
Pressure has been mounting on Mrs Brooks to quit after the second biggest shareholder at News Corp -- Prince al-Waheed bin Talal al Saud -- said she "must go" and Mr Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth allegedly said that Brooks had "f***ed the company".
Mr Cameron said her resignation was the "right decision" and Milly Dowler's family solicitor Mark Lewis welcomed the news, saying: "In a sense it is the chickens coming home to roost."
Mrs Brooks will still appear before MPs next week to answer questions over the phone hacking scandal. She today spent an hour in the newsroom of the Sun saying goodbye.
Onlookers said she spoke of clearing her name and looked cheerful, as though a "weight was off her mind".
Her replacement is outsider Tom Mockridge, who ran Mr Murdoch's Italian broadcasting wing and is virtually unknown in Britain.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, the first senior figure to call for her head, said: "It is right that Rebekah Brooks has finally taken responsibility for the terrible events that happened on her watch, like the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. …