Rebekah Brooks has quit as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's UK-based News International amid a widening scandal into phone hacking by journalists at the company's nespapers.
Brooks was the most senior executive at the company and is a former editor of both The Sun and the News of the World, the title shut down last week as a consequence of the scandal.
"This is quite extraordinary, because Brooks was considered something of a daughter, part of the Murdoch family," Al Jazeera's Tania Page reported from London.
Prior to the announcement of the resignation on Friday, Murdoch had vowed that Brooks had his total support.
Murdoch apologised to the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, one of many victims of phone hacking, but some had condemned him for moving to shut down the News of the World, while Brooks kept her job.
News of the World printed its final edition on Sunday , and some 200 hundred journalists were laid off as News International struggled to respond to the scandal.
Labour leader pleased
Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour party, said he was pleased with Brooks' resignation.
"I am pleased that Rebekah Brooks has finally accepted responsibility for what happened on her watch as editor of the News of the World - the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler, for example," he said.
"But, as I said when I called for her resignation 10 days ago, this isn't just about one individual; it's about the culture of an organisation.
"And when Rupert Murdoch says that News International have handled these allegations extremely well, I think people up and down the country will be thinking it really beggars belief."
Elisabeth Murdoch, the news mogul's daughter, had called on Brooks to resign on Thursday, as did a major shareholder at Murdoch's News Corporation, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
"For sure she has to go, you bet she has to go," the Saudi billionaire told the BBC. Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding is the second biggest shareholder in News Corporation and controls seven per cent of the votes.
In a statement, Brooks thanked Murdoch for his "kindness and incisive advice".
"As chief executive of the company, 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," she said.
Brooks is due to answer questions in front of a UK parliamentary
Alastair Campbell, communications director for ex-PM Tony Blair, discusses the scandal
committee investigating phone hacking at the News of the World.
Murdoch also bowed to pressure to appear before the committee after David Cameron, the prime minister, said on Thursday he should attend and the committee said it would issue a summons compelling him to do so.
He told the Wall Street Journal, a News Corporation title, that he had agreed to appear after being told he would be summoned, and in order to address "some of the things that have been said in parliament, some of which are total lies".
Murdoch's son, James Murdoch, News Corporation's top executive in Europe, will also face questioning. The committee will begin hearings next week.
BSkyB deal scuppered
The about-turn by Murdoch sets the stage for a showdown with MPs who are keen to reduce the media tycoon's influence on British politics.
Murdoch, 80, has already been forced to back down on his plan to acquire BSkyB, the satellite television operator in which News Corporation has a 39 per cent stake, due to an outcry over allegations that reporters accessed private phone messages.
The hacking victims include celebrities, senior politicians, members of the British royal family and relatives of British servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cameron has appointed a judge for a wide-ranging inquiry into the News of the World scandal and wider issues of media regulation.
The inquiry will also look into the relationship between politicians and media and the possibility that illegal practices are more widely employed in the industry.
The Guardian newspaper, meanwhile, apologised on Friday for reporting that The Sun had obtained information about former prime minister Gordon Brown's son from medical records.
"In fact the information came from a different source and the Guardian apologises for its error," the correction read.
The Guardian printed a front page story on Tuesday that claimed The Sun discovered Brown's son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis by accessing medical records in 2006, when Brown was finance minister.
Brown was "in tears" when he found out the paper was going to run the story, he told the BBC in an interview on Tuesday.
The Sun said the information came from a member of the public whose son also suffers from cystic fibrosis, who wanted to raise awareness of the condition.
The newspaper said the unidentified man has signed an affidavit to confirm he was the source of the story.