The Infamous “News of the World” Will Close After Serious Allegations Surfaced
Updated | 11:53 a.m. NY Times: Following more serious allegations about misconduct at The News of the World, a British tabloid owned by a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the newspaper will be closed down after publishing one final edition this Sunday.
Sky News, a British broadcaster owned by the same company, reports on its Web site that Mr. Murdoch’s son, James, announced the news in a statement on Thursday. Sky News reports:
This Sunday’s News Of The World will be the last ever issue of the tabloid, News International chairman James Murdoch has announced.
He said this newspaper would not run any commercial adverts this weekend, adding the advertising space would be donated to causes and charities.
Here is the complete text of a press release from News International on the decision to shut down the paper, just posted on the British Web site PoliticsHome:
News International today announces that this Sunday, 10 July 2011, will be the last issue of the News of the World.
Making the announcement to staff, James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, News Corporation, and Chairman, News International said:
“I have important things to say about the News of the World and the steps we are taking to address the very serious problems that have occurred. It is only right that you as colleagues at News International are first to hear what I have to say and that you hear it directly from me. So thank you very much for coming here and listening.
You do not need to be told that The News of the World is 168 years old. That it is read by more people than any other English language newspaper. That it has enjoyed support from Britain’s largest advertisers. And that it has a proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation.
When I tell people why I am proud to be part of News Corporation, I say that our commitment to journalism and a free press is one of the things that sets us apart. Your work is a credit to this.
The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behavior 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.
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.
Currently, there are two major and ongoing police investigations. We are cooperating fully and actively with both. You know that it was News International who voluntarily brought evidence that led to opening Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden. This full cooperation will continue until the Police’s work is done.
We have also admitted liability in civil cases. Already, we have settled a number of prominent cases and set up a Compensation Scheme, with cases to be adjudicated by former High Court judge Sir Charles Gray. Apologising and making amends is the right thing to do.
Inside the Company, we set up a Management and Standards Committee that is working on these issues and that has hired Olswang to examine past failings and recommend systems and practices that over time should become standards for the industry. We have committed to publishing Olswang’s terms of reference and eventual recommendations in a way that is open and transparent. We have welcomed broad public inquiries into press standards and police practices and will cooperate with them fully.
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.
Colin Myler will edit the final edition of the paper. In addition, I have decided that all of the News of the World’s revenue this weekend will go to good causes.
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 organizations – many of whom are long-term friends and partners – that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity.
We will run no commercial advertisements this weekend. Any advertising space in this last edition will be donated to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers.
These are strong measures. They are made humbly and out of respect. I am convinced they are the right thing to do.
Many of you, if not the vast majority of you, are either new to the company or have had no connection to the News of the World during the years when egregious behavior occurred.
I can understand how unfair these decisions may feel. Particularly, for colleagues who will leave the company. Of course, we will communicate next steps in detail and begin appropriate consultations.
You may see these changes as a price loyal staff at the News of the World are paying for the transgressions of others. So please hear me when I say that your good work is a credit to journalism. I do not want the legitimacy of what you do to be compromised by acts of others. I want all journalism at News International to be beyond reproach. I insist that this organization lives up to the standard of behavior we expect of others. And, finally, I want you all to know that it is critical that the integrity of every journalist who has played fairly is restored.
Thank you for listening.”
As my colleagues Sarah Lyall and Alan Cowell reported, what began as an investigation into journalists from a British tabloid listening to the voice mail messages of celebrities has now widened to include much more serious allegations: that the newspaper paid police officers for information and even interfered with a murder investigation.
On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard was investigating allegations that journalists from The News of the World, Britain’s most popular Sunday tabloid, paid more than $150,000 in bribes to five officers for information.
Here is video of Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of The News of the World and current chief executive of the News Corporation’s British newspaper division, saying, during testimony to a British parliamentary committee in 2003, “We have paid the police for information in the past.”
Immediately after Ms. Brooks made that statement, Andy Coulson, her former deputy, insisted that the paper had never done anything illegal. According to The Guardian, information that bribes had been paid was contained in documents sent to the police by News International last month. The newspaper reports, “All the payments are understood to have taken place in 2003, the year Rebekah Brooks handed editorship of The News of the World to Andy Coulson.”
As The Lede explained on Tuesday, Ms. Brooks claimed earlier this year in a letter to another committee that her remarks in 2003 had been misunderstood. In that letter, Ms. Brooks wrote that she had no “knowledge of any specific cases” in which payments were made to police officers by News International, and that she had been speaking in general terms about the British newspaper industry when she gave that answer eight years ago.
During a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, a member of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Tom Watson, detailed another serious allegation. Mr. Watson claimed that police officers had told Ms. Brooks in 2002 that they had evidence that her newspaper had paid private investigators to spy on a police detective in order to derail his investigation of a murder. (Video of Mr. Watson’s statement was posted on The Lede on Wednesday.)
In a statement to Channel 4 News, the British newspaper division of News Corporation, News International, said that it would challenge Tom Watson to make these allegations outside “the cloak of Parliamentary privilege.” Because Mr. Watson made his allegations in the House of Commons, he is protected from being sued for libel in Britain.