Press Association -- The News of the World has been sacrificed after a series of increasingly damaging allegations left its reputation in tatters.
James Murdoch, chairman of publishers News International, said the 168-year history of Britain's best-selling newspaper will come to an end when the final edition is published this Sunday. A spokeswoman refused to comment on speculation that The Sun will now be published seven days a week.
The bombshell announcement came as advertisers deserted the News of the World in droves and police revealed 4,000 people may have had their phones hacked by the tabloid. The Royal British Legion dropped the News of the World as its campaigning partner and expressed "revulsion" at allegations that war widows' phones may have been hacked.
Mr Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, pulled the plug on the paper after claims that it paid private investigators to illegally intercept the voicemail messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, bereaved military families and relatives of 7/7 bombing victims. It also stands accused of paying thousands of pounds illegally to corrupt police officers.
News of the World journalists reacted furiously, demanding to know why they are losing their jobs when News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the editor when hacking occurred, is keeping hers.
It also emerged that the Government's decision on whether to wave through Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover of BSkyB could be delayed by several months after it received around 100,000 responses to its consultation process.
James Murdoch announced the News of the World was closing just after 4.30pm in a 950-word statement to staff, praising the paper's achievements but condemning the illegal activities. Mr Murdoch accepted that the paper made statements to Parliament "without being in the full possession of the facts" and said he wrongly approved out-of-court settlements with famous victims of hacking without having a "complete picture" of what had happened.
The spotlight will now intensify on Ms Brooks, who was editor of the paper when Milly's phone was allegedly hacked after she went missing in 2002. Dozens of MPs, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, have called for her to go and she reportedly offered to resign on Wednesday night. But James Murdoch praised her "very good" leadership and ethics, and added: "I am satisfied that she neither had knowledge of nor directed those activities."
The Guardian reported that former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson will be arrested on Friday morning. The newspaper claims that he has been told to attend a central London police station for questioning over claims he knew about phone hacking. A second former senior journalist at the newspaper will also be arrested in the next few days, it reported.
Police have also told the father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan that they are setting up a new team to investigate allegations that journalists broke into email accounts. Anthony Philippson believes his son James's Hotmail account was illegally accessed in the days after he died in June 2006.
He tells the Politics Show that no one from the Guardian, the paper who exposed the scandal, said there were more revelations to come or he would have demanded the police investigate.
It's a sense, this 1930s chicago element of this, that all these people, including the Prime Minister, were so frightened of Murdoch either because of his political power, or frightened because they'd wake up one morning and find something in the papers their wife wouldn't like.
I worry about Dave Cameron because he seems to be getting all of this wrong.
He should stand up now and say 'I've told Rupert Murdoch, do not embarrass me by pursuing this application because the British public will not have it. Instead of which he doesn't, fumbles around. He's lost ground.After all those times having happy little drinkies with Rebekah Brooks the Prime Minister owes it to all of us to raise his game.
"It’s a new era, and politicians have a duty to speak out for the public.”
|@ ChrisBryantMP : It is inconceivable that Yates cd remain. He misled parliament - and when I called him on it, threatened to sue. and who paid his lawyers?|
The BBC reports
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond on Sky stresses that Ofcom "at any time" can intervene on the basis of fitness and properness of News International to buy out BSkyB.
“The position for this week is clear, I think, if there’s a debate and vote in the House of Commons, I will be suggesting to my colleagues that we as a party, a party that’s never been close to Murdoch, never been in this inner loop, I think we should make clear that we think there should be a postponement of the decision.
There shouldn’t be a decision while the police investigations are going on, and we should let the police investigations run their course.
And can I add I don’t think it’s only the News of the World, if the judicial inquiry does it’s full work, which will be in the frame of what the information commissioner made clear in 2006, that many titles, owned by many different people, and other titles owned by News International which have been guilty, not just of hacking but of other offences. And I think that now is the time we bring all of that up.”
|@ camillalong : Do we think Chris Huhne's suggestion that the ST is involved in hacking is anything to do with our 3+ damaging stories about his driving?|
He tells Sky that he "got messages through to all the three party leaders" about the extent of revelations to follow.
He says he will suggest to his colleagues to "make clear" that there should be a postponement of the BSkyB merger. He also says he thinks other titles have been guilty of hacking and "other offences".
LAST week the News of the World was the subject of some ferocious and, at times, hysterical attacks on its credibility, integrity and journalistic standards.
The onslaught was led by a series of reports in the Guardian newspaper and hastily followed by the BBC, Sky News, and ITN.
The essence of their campaign was that members of our staff have engaged in a widespread and unlawful conspiracy to access "thousands" of mobile phones.
However, as Andy Hayman - a former Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, who headed an exhaustive nine-month inquiry into our journalistic conduct - says today: "My recollection is different."
He adds: "As I recall the list of those targeted, which was put together from records kept by Glen Mulcaire, ran to several hundred names."Of these," writes Hayman, "there was a small number - perhaps a handful - where there was evidence that the phones had actually been tampered with."
Asked if he was warned off attacking Murdoch, he says people were "not very keen" for him to say what he said about Rebekah Brooks.
"We didn't have any standing to object to it... The reality is there were very serious risks to be run there", he said.
"I think the truth is that both Labour and the Conservatives over many years have had an extremely cosy relationship with the Murdoch press," he continued.
|@ IsabelHardman : Scary point by @frasernels that in America, when papers shut, the readers just stop buying papers rather than finding a new one.|
Associate editor of The News Of The World Harry Scott holds up a copy of a mocked-up front page staff were given.
This is the Mail on Sunday's intriguing report on the hacking scandal, and efforts to silence MP Tom Watson, who helped expose the scandal:
Tony Blair urged Gordon Brown to persuade the Labour MP who led the campaign to expose News of the World phone-hacking to back off, friends of Mr Brown said last night.
But Tony Blair's office have denied the claims, tweeting that the Mail on Sunday's story is "totally untrue... never happened".
Only 9% of people think tabloids are fair and accurate in their reporting, according to YouGov polling.
The worst is yet to come for Rupert Murdoch.
It’s not just me that thinks it – his disgraced chief executive Rebekah Brooks told her staff the same thing.
Murdoch’s henchmen have shocked the nation to the very core. And until someone at the top at Wapping carries the can, the anger of parents up and down the country will continue to grow.
Writing in the Observer, he says:
There are plenty of issues that NI still has to clear up. I still don't understand, for instance, how a company can suddenly come across thousands of invoices and emails detailing payments to police officers in June, when Brooks expressly wrote to the home affairs select committee in April that although she had said in 2003 that she had paid police officers for information, "[her] intention was simply to comment generally on the widely held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers". In April, she maintained that she had no "knowledge of any specific cases", but now the company had handed over evidence of £130,00 of payments. So where was this evidence? And why wasn't it found a year ago? Or five years ago?
The last-ever NOTW editorial is online:
We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards.
Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry.
There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing.
No justification for the pain caused to victims, nor for the deep stain it has left on a great history.
Yet when this outrage has been atoned, we hope history will eventually judge us on all our years.
The staff of this paper, to a man and woman, are people of skill, dedication, honour and integrity bearing the pain for the past misdeeds of a few others.
And as a small step on the long road to making some amends, all profits from the sale of this final edition will be split equally between three charities: Barnardo's, the Forces Children's Trust, and military projects at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity.
Meanwhile, we welcome and support the Prime Minister's two public inquiries, one into the police handling of the case and another into the ethics and standards of the Press.
But we do not agree that the Press Complaints Commission should be disbanded. Self-regulation does work. But the current make-up of the PCC doesn't work. It needs more powers and more resources. We do not need government legislation.
That would be a disaster for our democracy and for a free Press.
But most of all, on this historic day, after 8,674 editions we'll miss YOU, our 7.5 million readers.
You've been our life. We've made you laugh, made you cry, made your jaw drop in amazement, informed you, enthralled you and enraged you.
You have been our family, and for years we have been yours, visiting every weekend.
Thank you for your support. We'll miss you more than words can express.
|@ jameschappers : As if this can't get more surreal, Cameron meeting Hugh Grant on Monday to discuss Murdoch and phone hacking. Watergate meets Love Actually|
Labour will use Wednesday's Opposition Day debate to try and halt News Corp's takeover of BSkyB until the criminal investigation is over, The Huffington Post has learned. They will table a motion this week and say they are confident of getting cross party support.
Labour believe that the assurances provided by News Corp and Rupert Murdoch are unreliable, and say they now have grounds upon which to try to halt the deal.
A labour source said "we are incredulous that David Cameron thinks he can press on with this takeover or have an NHS style delay. He shows no sign of understanding the breadth of this crisis or the depth of public anger".
The staff of the NOTW are being led out of their offices in Wapping by editor Colin Myler to face the gathered journalists.
Here's what he had to say:
"It's not a record of any editor to want to close a title. Of course I didn't close it. I want to pay tribute to this wonderful team of people here who after a really difficult day have produced a brilliantly professional way a wonderful newspaper."
He added: "As I said to the staff this morning this is not where we wanted to be or deserved to be, but as a final tribute to 7.5 million readers this is for you and for the staff. Thank you. And now in the best traditions of Fleet St., we're going to the pub."
Here it is, the final front page of the News of the World. See all the day's front pages as they come in here in a handy slideshow.
Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates has told the Sunday Telegraph that his decision not to reopen an investigation into News International was “a pretty crap one” and said that he felt deeply sorry.
In an astonishingly frank interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Yates said that News International had launched an “industrial scale” cover-up of its phone hacking and added that Scotland Yard had been “very damaged” by its failures.
“I have regrettably said the initial inquiry was a success. Clearly now that looks very different.”
|@ politicshomeuk : Telegraph reporting that Rebekah Brooks will be questioned by police over phone hacking allegations.|