News of the World to close
This Sunday’s edition of The News of the World will be its last, News International chairman James Murdoch has said, after days of increasingly damaging allegations against the paper.
The weekly tabloid is accused of hacking into the mobile phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians.
Today, the Met Police said it was seeking to contact 4 000 possible targets named in seized documents.
The UK’s biggest selling paper has been in circulation for 168 years.
The News of the World, which sells about 2.8 million copies a week, is famed for its celebrity scoops and sex scandals, earning it the nickname, the News of the Screws.
Downing Street has said it had no role or involvement in the closure decision.
Murdoch said no advertisements would run in this weekend’s paper – instead any advertising space would be donated to charities and good causes, and proceeds from sales would also go to good causes.
News International has refused to comment on rumours that the Sun could now become a seven-day-a-week operation.
“What happens to the Sun is a matter for the future,” a spokeswoman for News International said. The Sun, another News International tabloid, is currently published from Monday to Saturday.
The spokeswoman also refused to say whether the 200 or so employees at the paper would be made redundant, saying: “They will be invited to apply for other jobs in the company.”
The News of the World’s political editor, David Wooding, who joined 18 months ago, said it was a fantastic paper.
“They cleared out all the bad people. They bought in a great new editor, Colin Myler, and his deputy, Victoria Newton, who had not been sullied by any of the things that had gone on in the past.
“And there’s nobody there, there’s hardly anybody there who was there in the old regime.
“The people are very clean, great, talented professional journalists and we pull out a great paper every week. And we’re all paying the price for what happened six years ago by a previous regime.”
In a statement made to staff, Murdoch said the good things the News of the World did “have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong – indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company”.
He went on: “In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.
“Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
“As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter.
“We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences. This was not the only fault.
“The paper made statements to Parliament without being in the full possession of the facts. This was wrong.
“The company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret.”
He said: “So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.
“Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.”
He reiterated that the company was fully co-operating with the two ongoing police investigations.
He added: “While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organisations that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity.” (BBC)