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UK tabloid shut down amid phone scandal
Biggest-selling Sunday newspaper, News of the World, to publish last edition as arrest of ex-editor Andy Coulson looms.
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2011 05:53



The News of the World, Britain's biggest selling newspaper, will publish its last edition on Sunday following a phone hacking scandal, a senior executive has said.

James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp, which owns the newspaper's parent company, News International, made the announcement on Thursday at the paper's headquarters in London.

"News International today announces that this Sunday, 10 July 2011, will be the last issue of the News of the World," Murdoch said.

He said the paper had done good things but added that "the good things have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong".

"Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company. The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself," said Murdoch.

The son of the media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, who is chairman of News Corp, did not give further details on what will happen to the paper's staff.

Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting just outside the paper's offices, said: "Police say there could be 4,000 victims of phone hacking.

"The sheer welter of allegations have proved too much for the bosses of News International. The police inquiry will carry on because there are allegations here of a criminal nature."

On Thursday, Scottish police were asked to investigate evidence given in court by witnesses including former News of the World editor Andy Coulson following the latest developments.

The UK's Guardian newspaper reported on Thurday that Coulson, Cameron's director of communications until his resignation in January, is to be arrested on Friday over the hacking allegations. 

Coulson's detention would be a blow to the prime minister, who strongly defended his decision to appoint the former editor as the allegations about hacking continued to mount.

Public outrage

The News of the World, founded in 1843, faced mounting criticism this week when it emerged that murdered British teenager Milly Dowler was reported to have been one of the people whose voicemail messages journalists and investigators working for the paper had hacked into.

The revelation prompted public disgust and Cameron promised a full inquiry into the scandal. 

Cameron has described the newspaper's practices as "disgusting" and is consulting British MPs from all political parties about the nature of the public inquiry to be conducted.

A spokesman from Cameron's office said all those responsible for wrongdoing at the News of the World should be brought to justice.


Al Jazeera speaks to UK's former commander in Afghanistan about phone hacking

"What matters is that all wrongdoing is exposed and those responsible for these appalling acts are brought to justice," the spokesman said.

However, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, said the furore over the scandal would not die down until News International sacked Rebekah Brooks, top executive and Murdoch confidante.

She edited the paper a decade ago during the period of some of the gravest allegations.

On Thursday, fresh allegations of hacking emerged after the Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported that relatives of British soldiers who died in combat may also have had their phones hacked into by the News of the World.

The paper said phone numbers of relatives of dead soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were found in the files of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working for the News of the World.

The Royal British Legion, which works with war veterans, has cut ties with the paper in protest, signalling how far the scandal has taken its toll.

The charity said it could no longer campaign with the News of the World on behalf of the families of soldiers "while it stands accused of preying on these same families in the lowest depths of their misery".

In a statement, the charity added: "The hacking allegations have shocked us to the core."

Advertisers shun paper

Before announcing the paper's closure, News International had said it would be "appalled and horrified" if the reports turned out to be true.

The company said it was willing to work with the Ministry of Defence to investigate the claims made by the Daily Telegraph.

Major companies like the British supermarket Sainsbury's and the car maker Ford have suspended their advertising deals with the News of the World.

The events of the past few days are also threatening to delay a planned multi-billion-dollar takeover Murdoch's News Corp of news and entertainment broadcaster BSkyB.

The allegations have raised fresh questions about the power of Murdoch over the British press, politicians and the police.

"We have let one man have too far great a sway over our national life," said the British Labour Party MP, Chris Bryant, who secured an emergency debate in parliament on Wednesday to ask the government to call for a public enquiry.

"No other country would allow one man to garner four national newspapers, become the second-largest broadcaster and hold monopoly on film rights and first-view movies," he said.

The government is considering delaying its decision on whether to allow News Corp to buy out the 61 per cent of pay-TV company BSkyB that it does not already own, after receiving over 100,000 complaints from members of the public.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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