News of the World Scandal: Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, More Big Names

Here’s your guide to the major players as the News of the World phone-hacking scandal deepens.

Clockwise from left: Getty Images, AP Photo (2)

Clockwise from left: Getty Images, AP Photo (2)

As the News of the World phone-hacking scandal deepens, the cast of characters continues to grow. From Rebekah Brooks, the über-ambitious editor and Rupert Murdoch’s confidante, to the private investigators allegedly hired to do the hacking, here’s your guide to the major players. (Hugh Grant even plays a role!)

Lewis Whyld, Press Assocation / AP Phot

Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks resigned as CEO of News International, having initially said she would not step down, and was later arrested, questioned for 12 hours, and released on bail. She's been charged with perverting the course of justice, though she denied knowing anything about the hacking during her tenure at News of the World when she quit. Brooks apologized for the scandal, saying she felt a "deep responsibility for the people we have hurt." Brooks, née Wade, has been with News International for 22 years, and was previously editor of The Sun before she became head honcho at News of the World. She has been at the heart of the tabloid’s hacking scandal for some time: she was editor when reporters allegedly hacked into the phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old murder victim, and deleted messages, subsequently throwing off a police investigation (News International has said Brooks was on vacation at the time). She is very close to Murdoch, which some say was largely why she did not immediately lose her job when the hacking scandal came to a head. News Corp. has announced that Tom Mockridge, the company's chief executive of European television, will replace Brooks as CEO of News International.

Lewis Whyld, Press Assocation / AP Photo

Andy Coulson

A veteran journalist, Coulson succeeded Brooks as editor of News of the World in 2003. While editing the paper, he allegedly oversaw phone hacking—including of celebrities and members of the royal family—as well as payments to police officers in exchange for tips. He resigned in 2007 after staffers were convicted of phone hacking, but became chief spokesman for the Conservative Party and then for Prime Minister David Cameron. But Coulson was forced to resign in January 2011 as allegations about improprieties during his tenure atop News of the World mounted.

Scott J. Ferrell, CQ / Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch

At the center of the scandal stands the controversial Australian media mogul. A veteran of many flare-ups—from attacks on his Fox News Channel to teeth gnashing over his takeovers of papers like The Times and the New York Post—he has so far not been directly linked to the misdeeds at News of the World, but it’s unclear what he knew and when. His friendship with Brooks is said to be strong, and he reportedly rejected her first attempts to resign.

Rupert Hartley, Rex Features / AP Photo

David Cameron

The leader of the Conservative Party has been prime minister since May 2010. His close ties to the phone-hacking scandal have brought him in for harsh criticism, even from traditionally conservative newspapers. In addition to hiring Coulson as communications director—and keeping him on until Coulson's position became totally untenable—Cameron is close to Brooks and owns a country house adjacent to hers.

Surrey Police / AP Photo

Milly Dowler

Dowler, 13, was abducted while returning home from school in March 2002 and was killed. Her body was not found until September 2002, and in the interim News of the World reporters allegedly hacked into her phone to listen to voicemails and find tips. When the mailbox filled up, reporters allegedly deleted voicemails to make room—potentially destroying evidence.

Ian West, Press Association / AP Photo

Sharon Marshall

A former reporter for News of the World, Marshall penned a 2010 tell-all about life inside the Murdoch paper. Most explosively, she said that phone hacking was a common and accepted practice in the office, and said she’d seen it happen. “Talk to any tabloid journalist in the United Kingdom, and they can tell you each phone company’s four-digit codes. Every hack on every newspaper knew this was done,” she told The New York Times.

John Stillwell, PA Wire / AP Photo

Clive Goodman

One of the few journalists to suffer serious consequences from the scandal so far, Goodman was the veteran royal-family correspondent for News of the World, notable for his sharp scoops and dandyish dress. In 2007 he was jailed for four months and fired after pleading guilty to working with Glenn Mulcaire to intercept and listen to the voicemail boxes of members of the royal family. Editors said at the time that he was the only person who knew about the hacking.

John Stillwell, Press Assocation / AP Photo

Glenn Mulcaire and Steve Whittamore

A former professional soccer player, Mulcaire (left) became a private investigator and worked extensively for News of the World. Like Goodman, a close collaborator, he was sent to jail for hacking into royal phones. Police seized files from him with dozens of cellphone PIN codes. Although News International said he and Goodman worked alone, Mulcaire has disputed the claim, and said recently—while apologizing for his actions—that he felt "constant demand for results” from his News of the World bosses.

Another private investigator in News of the World’s stable, Whittamore was paid to obtain illegal information and pleaded guilty. He worked for nearly 20 reporters and editors at News of the World and, like Mulcaire, denied that he was a rogue operator, complaining that the press was making him a scapegoat for its own sins.

John Walton, Press Association / AP Photo

Gordon Taylor

Taylor heads the largest soccer players’ union in the U.K. and was a target of hacking by Glenn Mulcaire—a fellow former professional footballer—on behalf of News of the World. Taylor responded by suing News International, which reportedly settled the suit for £700,000 in exchange for his not speaking publicly on the matter.

Zak Hussein, PA Wire / AP Photo

Max Clifford

A PR maven who trafficked hot stories to tabloids, Clifford later became the target of his former collaborators following a 2005 tiff with Andy Coulson. Soon afterward, his phone was hacked. An enraged Clifford publicly announced that he was suing News International but quickly changed his mind after being offered £1 million to stay quiet—but the revelation of his settlement inspired a raft of new suits from other victims. Now he’s come out in defense of Rebekah Brooks, saying the allegations are “horrendous” and that Brooks must not have known about the Dowler hacks.

AP Photo (2)

Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller

The actor and actress were both among the celebrities whose phones were hacked by News of the World staffers. Miller’s lawyer alleged that senior editor Ian Edmondson was aware she was a target; Edmondson was sacked. Miller later accepted a £100,000 settlement. Grant took matters into his own hands. Wearing a wire, he spoke to Paul McMullan, a former News of the World editor who said that Brooks would have had to have known about the phone hacking. Grant then published a transcript of his tape in the New Statesman.

David Cheskin, PA Wire / AP Photo

James Murdoch

Watching the machinations among Rupert Murdoch’s children and wife is a favorite hobby of News Corp. observers. James Murdoch, Rupert’s fourth son, was chair and CEO of News Corp.’s European and Asian properties, including News International, until his resignation on Feb. 29, 2012. Though he was seen as his father’s heir-in-waiting, his fall from grace in the scandal threw that into question. James was previously CEO of BSkyB, a British TV channel in which News Corp. owns a stake. The scandal is sensitive because British regulators need to approve News Corp.’s takeover of BSkyB, and a decision has been pushed back in light of recent events. It was James who announced that News of the World would be shuttered after 168 years.

Akira Suemori / AP Photo

Princes William and Harry

In 2006, News of the World started getting remarkable scoops on the royal family—Will’s pulled tendon; Harry’s visit to a strip club and his on-again-off-again girlfriend’s fury about it. The reports were brazen, even quoting verbatim from voicemails. It turned out to be the most high-profile example of Mulcaire and Goodman’s hacking, and it infuriated the royal family and helped to break open the full story of News of the World’s exploits.

BBC Newsnight

Derek Webb

Derek Webb is a private investigator who, eight years ago, was first paid by News of the World to follow more than 100 people including Prince William, Elle Macpherson, Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, Sienna Miller, Angelina Jolie, and Paul McCartney. Webb, a former cop, insists there was nothing unlawful about the surveillance NOTW paid him to carry out. He came clean about his eight years of undercover celebrity tracking on the television show Newsnight earlier this week.

Nick Ut / AP Photo

Tom Watson

After being allegedly targeted by News International for his effort to take down former prime minister Tony Blair, Member of Parliament Tom Watson led the effort to expose News of the World for phone hacking in 2009. It was revealed this week that Watson was one of many people whom private investigator Derek Webb had been instructed to follow.