Without a care in the (News Of The) World: Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks may be on police bail but she can still soak up the sun on Cape Town holiday
It was on Rebekah Brooks' watch as Chief Executive of News International that the News of the World was shut down amid the ugly scandal of a newspaper rife with allegations of phone-hacking and corruption.
But as she strolls in the South African sun on a new year's holiday in South Africa Brooks, who remains on police bail following her arrest on July 15, looks as if she doesn't have a care in the world.
Brooks, who received a bumper 1.7million severance package and a chauffeur-driven limousine in a controversial pay-off deal, will be hoping that 2012 is a lot less eventful for her than 2011.
Welcome break: Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie flew to South Africa to spend New Year's Eve there
Public furore erupted last summer
after it emerged that a private detective working for the News of the
World hacked the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Brooks was editor of the paper at the time of Dowler's disappearance.
Just days after she quit the besieged
company at the height of the scandal, Brooks was arrested as part of an
investigation over police bungs to journalists. She is bailed to return
for questioning in March. Her lawyer has said she denies committing any
Mrs Brooks is a favourite of Rupert
Murdoch and is understood to have been told she would one day be able to
return to the company, possibly in as little as two years.
In the meantime, Mr Murdoch is said to have told her to 'travel the world' until the scandal dies down.
Ms Brooks rang in the new year with husband Charlie on a quiet South African break.
She and her racehorse trainer
husband, who are to become parents to a baby girl born via a surrogate
in February, were joined by friends as they flew in to Cape Town on
The group spent a peaceful weekend touring the Cape peninsula; a world away from the ongoing hacking storm back home.
Tranquil: The two spent an afternoon exploring a nature reserve, stopping to pose for photos
Dressed in casual summer clothes and
shielding their faces with sun hats, Ms Brooks and her husband browsed a
craft market at the harbour before heading to the Cape of Good Hope
There they spent some time walking the trails, stopping from time to time to take in the spectacular views over the Atlantic.
Later, the two took a funicular ride
to the highest point for a walk around the lighthouse, before heading
down to Boulders Beach to watch the antics of the penguins.
They rounded off the weekend with a visit to World Heritage site Robben Island.
The tranquil surroundings would have been a break after what has been an undeniably tumultuous year for Ms Brooks.
In July last year, Ms Brooks was
forced to resign from her role at News International when her role at
the head of the organisation became untenable. Mr Murdoch's daughter and
Rebekah's former close friend said at the time that Ms Brooks had
'f***** the company'.
Humbled: The former NoTW editor was forced to resign from her role as News International's chief executive last year, and gave a public apology to the victims of the hacking scandal at a Parliamentary Committee hearing
She made a humbling appearance at a
Parliamentary Committee inquiry, looking pale and drawn as she made a
public apology to the victims of the phone-hacking scandal.
In November, she was publicly branded
'scum' by ex-News of the World journalist Paul McMullan, who alleged
during the inquiry that Ms Brooks was fully aware that phone hacking was
going on when she was editor of the newspaper.
For her part, Ms Brooks maintains she had no idea that reporters on the paper were hacking phones.
But with yet more evidence to be
heard, Ms Brooks is not yet out of hot water. One wonders if this
tranquil trip might not be the calm before the storm.
This month's U.S. edition of Vanity Fair also devotes 3,000 words to Ms Brooks in a caustic profile that serves as a retelling of how she clawed her way to the top of News International.
It questions her background, quoting unnamed sources who said she spoke with a 'girls'-school accent, meaning she'd been poshly educated' to hide the fact she had been brought up in the northern town of Warrington to a father, variously described as a tugboat deckhand and gardener.
It also quotes former colleagues saying she used her 'tactile' feminine charm to get her way. One told Vanity Fair: 'From the way she acted, you would think she wanted to sleep with you… but she didn't want to sleep with the help; she was way too up the scale for that'.
Vanity Fair then suggests the ever 'imperious' journalist, now prone to 'intimidating' rages in the newsroom, used her charisma to woo Rupert Murdoch and became the 'imposter daughter' in the tycoon's family.
In his eyes she could do no wrong and was given increasingly more senior posts until her eventual downfall.
The article finally claims she has 'reappeared on the dinner circuit' around her Chipping Norton home, where friends paint her as among the 'victims' and that Ms Brooks is planning to rehabilitate herself in the public eye through philanthropic work, including a charity event planned next month.