Rebekah Brooks has resigned as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper arm as a phone-hacking scandal escalates, and will be replaced by Sky Italia CEO Tom Mockridge, the company said on Friday.

Brooks, a favorite of parent company News Corp's CEO Murdoch, was editor of the News of the World tabloid during the time it hacked voicemails of murder victims and bereaved relatives, and had come under intense pressure to quit.

James Murdoch, Rupert's son who heads News Corp's non-U.S. operations, said in a statement: I believe that Tom is the best person to move the company forward to a brighter future.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)