The feisty, hugely profitable paper, which has been continuously published for 168 years, “has a proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation,” James Murdoch said. But those attributes “have been sullied by behavior that was wrong,” he said. “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.”
Referring to the phone-hacking scandal, the younger Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of his father’s News Corp., said the newspaper “failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.” He added, “Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.” He pledged that “those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.”
In an act of penance, the final issue Sunday will carry no commercial advertisements, and all revenue “will go to good causes,” James Murdoch told the tabloid’s staff in a memo.
The scandal has driven away advertisers, alienated readers and prompted outraged Britons to launch Internet campaigns to boycott the paper.
It was not immediately clear whether News Corp. would put out a new Sunday paper to replace the News of the World, which had been selling 2.6 million copies a week. A spokeswoman for News International, a News Corp. subsidiary that publishes the News of the World and other papers, said it was “not true at the moment” that the company has any plans to fill the void by issuing the tabloid’s sister publication, the Sun, on Sundays. The Sun currently publishes Monday through Saturday.
News International is Britain’s biggest newspaper publisher, with the News of the World one of its four major titles. The others are the daily Times of London, the Sunday Times and the tabloid Sun.
The stunning closure of Britain’s most popular Sunday paper comes as new allegations about the tabloid’s conduct have come to light during the past week. In the latest development, relatives of British servicemen who died in Iraq and Afghanistan may have had their phones hacked by the paper, which is also accused of intercepting voice mails of the families of terror victims and of a slain 13-year-old girl, the Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
The Daily Telegraph said that “personal details of the families of servicemen who died on the front line” were discovered in records kept by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who worked for News of the World.