James Murdoch Defends Rebekah Brooks, Calls Decision to Close NOTW 'Inescapable' After Hacking
Staffers say the feeling in the newsroom is "complete devastation" that the long-running tabloid will close after Sunday.
Rupert Murdoch faces a new fire in his own backyard as anger among mounts among employees at his decision to close down The News of The World and put more than 200 staff out of work. Staff within News International’s London headquarters in Wapping, West London are said to be “in shock” at the decision to close down the paper that has been part of the fabric of British life for over 150 years.
“Obviously it was complete devastation in there,” News of The World showbiz editor Dan Wooton told Sky News. But he said that the paper had great standards and great staff and that despite the news is was “going out on a high.” In his first comments after making the announcement that the paper would close, News Corp’s deputy COO James Murdoch took to the airwaves to defend the decision, saying the practices of former executives meant that the paper had “breached the trust” of readers, at which point the decision became “inescapable.”
But he staunchly defended the past and future role of News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who he said had done the right thing and was “right for the company.”
“I am satisfied that Rebecca’s leadership and standard of ethics and standard of conduct throughout her career are very good,” Murdoch told Sky News.
“Her leadership is crucial right now and [it] is what has been moving this inquiry forward.” But staff who are now unemployed at the paper said they were being scapegoated for the actions of others. “Like many of us who have been told that we will be out of work today, I wasn’t here when these things happened,” said News of The World associate editor David Wooding.
“Except for three people, the people who created all this damage left five years ago. That newspaper is a very clean ship and a very good newspaper. This all happened in the past,” Wooding said.
Following allegations that an investigative team had hacked into the phone of the families of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, a swathe of advertisers had begunwithdrawn their business from the newspaper. The resulting loss of confidence from readers and from advertisers could have amounted to a slow death for a the newspaper that Murdoch bought thirty years ago and which cemented his reputation for having newsprint running through his blood. But it remains to be seen whether the shock decision to shut the newspaper will be enough to save the reputations of the executives who still remain.
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