Brooks, now the chief executive of News International, reportedly brought in two loyal proofreaders to make sure that Sunday’s final edition was free of any staff backlash at losing their jobs after the paper was closed amid the furore over the phone hacking scandal.
The proofreaders failed to notice the crossword though which was riddled with not-so-cryptic clues about what staff thought about Brooks.
Among the clues in the paper’s Quickie puzzle were: “Brook”, “stink”, “catastrophe” and “digital protection”.
The Cryptic Crossword appears to go even further, including the hints “criminal enterprise”, “mix in prison”, “string of recordings”, and “will fear new security measure”.
Another clue was “woman stares wildly at calamity”, with suggestions it refers to a photograph of Mrs Brooks as she left the News International HQ in east London on Thursday after staff were told the paper would be shut down.
The answer to that particular clue was “disaster”.
Other answers included: “Deplored”, “stench”, “stir”, “menace”, “desist”, “racket” and “tart”.
A source at the News of the World told the Daily Mail newspaper that “Rebekah tried everything to stop the staff having the last word and she utterly failed”.
“She brought in two very senior Sun journalists to go though every line on every page with a fine tooth comb to ensure there were no libels or any hidden mocking messages of the chief executive,” the source said.
“But they failed and we’ve had the last laugh.”
The decision to close the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid after 168 years in print follows an extraordinary week of revelations about intrusive phone hacking and alleged pay-offs to police from the newspaper. It was revealed that the tabloid had tapped into the phone messages of murdered schoolgirls and relatives of slain soldiers and 2005 London bombing victims.
Rebekah Brooks was the editor in charge when phone-tapping practices were used but has been spared the knife, largely it seems due to her ‘pet’ status with owner Rupert Murdoch.
In a secret recording made as she addressed staff on Friday, Brooks can be heard saying: “This is not exactly the best time in my life but I’m determined to get vindication for this paper and for people like you.”
The staff then cheer as an unidentified male staff member angrily replies: “You’re making the whole of News International toxic. There’s an arrogance that you think we would want to work for you.”