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Close associate of James Murdoch steps down at News Corp.

November 3, 2011 |  1:30 pm

James Murdoch

A close associate of embattled executive James Murdoch will step down from her high-level position as chief human resources officer of News Corp. at the end of the month. 

The company said Beryl Cook would be replaced by longtime corporate consultant Jeff Mook.

The move is significant because Cook was seen within News Corp. as a key member of James Murdoch's "shadow government" as he began to amass power within the global media conglomerate and was being groomed as a successor to his father, Rupert Murdoch. The elder Murdoch is chairman and chief executive at News Corp., and James serves as deputy chief operating officer.

Cook had worked with James Murdoch at British Sky Broadcasting in London, when he ran the satellite TV service. In 2007, she moved to News Corp.'s New York headquarters to assume her senior post.

That same year James Murdoch was elevated to head of News Corp.'s European and Asian operations. In March, he was promoted to his current job, a New York-based position. Since July, he has been embroiled in the phone hacking scandal that has shaken the media company and the British political establishment.

James Murdoch is being recalled to appear before British Parliament next Thursday to face a second round of questions over his role in the controversy.

Cook, a former journalist and 22-year veteran of the company, is not leaving News Corp. entirely. After a month-long transition, she will return to an Asian Pacific division "to be closer to her family," News Corp. said.

“I understand her decision to leave New York and am delighted she has agreed to continue playing an important role within the company," Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

Mook, 50, joined News Corp. in early 2010 as the company’s senior vice president of global compensation. He spent 25 years as a consultant for such firms as Towers Perrin. He will report to Chase Carey, News Corp.'s president and chief operating officer.

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A titan challenged

— Meg James and Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo of News Corp. Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch. Credit: David Moir/ Reuters

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