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LONDON — James Murdoch has stunned U.K. media industry Thursday by announcing that News Corporation will shut down The News of the World after this Sunday’s edition, ending a history going back 168 years.
In a dramatic mea culpa, Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son also used the statement about the paper’s closure to admit that he had authorized out of court payments and said that he had not been fully informed of what he was doing at the time.
“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,” he said, adding that News Corporation would co-operate fully with police inquiries.
The move is an extraordinary twist in the crisis engulfing British media as revelations that staff on the paper approved hacking into as many as 4,000 mobile phone accounts.
It has left staff on the paper in shock, according to one person who works on the paper. “It is such an iconic brand. No-one ever thought that it could come to this.”
James Murdoch, deputy CEO of News Corporation, told staff that the paper had “failed” to maintain standards.
“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.
Murdoch went on to say that “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 is an amazing decision – it’s the right decision – its an astonishing decision but it shows just how important Rupert Murdoch is taking this situation,” said Roy Greenslade, the Guardian journalist who has lead much of the coverage of the hacking story.
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