rebekah brooks

Did she weep or was she dry-eyed? Rebekah Brooks failed in her rallying cry

The 200 staff who were effectively made redundant by News International when it shut down the News of the World are set to sue the company for unfair dismissal - and it could cost the company £14million.

Many of the paper's journalists believe they have been badly mistreated because they had no involvement in the phone hacking scandal, and the large majority were not even working on the paper when the alleged offences took place.

There is the belief among the staff that the axed journalists have been used as scapegoats for NI's chief executive Rebekah Brooks and BSkyB's James Murdoch.

Legal experts said that if the staff did chose to sue for unfair dismissal, each of the 200 could receive £70,000 at employment tribunals.

That would leave News International with a £14 million bill, reported the Evening Standard.

The staff have been told they will receive 90 days pay before being given redundancy, but that seemingly isn't enough to sate the depth of feeling.

It is being reported this afternoon that Mrs Brooks is set to face the fury of staff.

Sky News, which is also run by the paper's parent company News International, said the beleaguered chief executive is to meet staff at at 4pm today.

There was said to be a 'lynch mob mentality' inside Fortress Wapping yesterday as Brooks, accompanied by security guards, wielded the axe on the paper.

Insiders said she immediately tried to blame others for the demise of the newspaper, which she led at the height of the phone hacking allegations.

She told journalists assembled on the second floor of the News International building, near Tower Bridge in East London: 'The Guardian newspaper were out to get us, and they got us.'


Upset: Many of the staff were in tears as it became clear that while they were losing their jobs, Mrs Brooks was still clinging to hers
If it was intended as a rallying cry, it failed.

During the meeting Mrs Brooks even got the age of the 168-year-old paper wrong, The Independent's sources said.

Many of the staff were in tears as it became clear that while they were losing their jobs, Mrs Brooks was still clinging to hers.

She had twice offered her resignation, they were told, but it was turned down.

A news blogger suggested one member of staff was cheered when he shouted out: 'We'll accept it'.

After her address, Mrs Brooks apparently offered to take questions from staff but current editor Colin Myler told her he would like to speak to the journalists without her being present. She turned on her heels and left, escorted from the building by security staff.

rebekah brooks,david cameron

Asked to leave: Rebekah Brooks, pictured with David Cameron, was told by current editor Colin Myler he would like to speak to the journalists without her being present
One witness told the Daily Mail: 'She ran off sharpish. The atmosphere was poisonous and she wasn't hanging around.'

Some loyalists denied there was a 'lynch-mob' atmosphere, saying that it was misinformation being put out by the company to further discredit the staff. Some staff even popped champagne corks to mark the passing of the paper with 'quiet pride', according to The Times.

Sources briefed Sky News - itself part of the Murdoch empire - that Mrs Brooks was in tears as she made the announcement. But the claim was denied angrily by some inside the newsroom, who said the redhead appeared shaken but dry-eyed as she spoke.

A source in the NotW newsroom told The Independent: 'Murdoch has sacrificed a newspaper to save one woman.'

Brooks and James Murdoch spoke to Colin Myler just after 4pm, giving him barely 20 minutes' notice of what they intended to do. Unable to control his fury, he was said to have physically ejected Mrs Brooks from his office, overlooking the open-plan newsroom.

He later described the decision as 'the saddest day of my professional career'.


Ejected: Brooks was apparently escorted from the building by security staff
Mrs Brooks then summoned staff before delivering the bombshell announcement that Sunday's edition will be the last.

Almost simultaneously, an internal email from Mr Murdoch was sent around the group at 4.33pm, confirming the death of the newspaper. Silence fell across newsrooms at the Sun, Times and Sunday Times as journalists read the email, which carried the subject line 'Message from James Murdoch'.

Staff computers were apparently disabled with immediate effect and the TV screens on the walls went blank.

At the Sun there were reports backed up by the National Union of Journalists that all 30 sub-editors walked out in an act of solidarity. It later transpired that a group of subs had popped out to 'buy a pint' for their opposite numbers at the News of the World.

At around 7pm that evening, in a meeting on the 13th floor, employees were told they would receive around three months pay before becoming redundant, and that there were only limited opportunities elsewhere for them in the News International stable.

Meanwhile, up to 200 News of the World journalists were planning to descend on an East London bar last night to discuss the day's events and their harsh treatment. One said: 'I only saw it on the news and just couldn't believe it. Then I read the email, but it wasn't until the sixth paragraph that he spelled it out that we were closing.

'Everyone was astonished, we were just trying to take it in. People in the office had burst into tears. You hardly expect to be told you've lost your job and your livelihood on Sky News.'

At the Times, religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill sent out a Twitter message, saying: 'Now I am crying. sobbing. OMG. I cannot believe what I have just read in my inbox. oh it so sad.'

For many inside the News International stable, the shock decision led to fears about the implications for other titles, including speculation about whether the Sun would become a seven-day operation.

But the overwhelming reaction was sympathy for the colleagues now facing redundancy, many of whom had joined the paper long after the phone hacking allegations.

David Wooding, the News of the World's political editor, said: 'I'm quite shocked. I only joined the paper 18 months ago.'

Another staff member added: 'For the sake of one person, 500 people at the News of the World have been sacrificed.'

Dan Wootton, News of the World showbiz editor, said he and his colleagues were 'devastated' and that some had been in tears. But he dismissed rumours that staff were baying for blood.

A NotW newsroom source told The Telegraph: 'Colin (Myler, the editor) told us the decision to close the paper had been made in New York, that as soon as the suits there saw the shares had started to slide they thought they had to cut us off.'