Tabloid Behind Phone-Hacking Scandal to Shut Down

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 12:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The News International company says it is shutting down the British tabloid newspaper News of the World, following a widespread phone-hacking scandal in which victims range from celebrities to murder victims.

Thursday’s announcement came from James Murdoch, who heads the newspaper’s European operations. He said the 168-year-old newspaper will publish its final edition on Sunday. In a statement, Murdoch said “wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad.”

The phone hacking scandal has intensified with reports relatives of of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan were among those targeted.

The reports also say investigators believe News of the World staff may have bribed police officers for information about those victims.

Earlier, News International said it would be “absolutely appalled and horrified” if the claims are true. News International is owned by Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

The latest allegations follow outrage over reports the tabloid also may have intercepted voicemails sent to the phones of murder victims and their families. Those suspected to have been targeted include several schoolgirls murdered in 2002 and relatives of victims of the 2005 London transport bombings.

In remarks to the British parliament Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron called for “public” and “independent” inquiries into the allegations and into the failure of the original police probe into the hacking.

The phone hacking allegations against News of the World trace back several years. In 2007, a News of the World reporter and a private investigator hired by the paper were jailed for intercepting the mobile phone messages of British royal officials. The tabloid is also accused of hacking the phones of politicians and celebrities.

Several companies have suspended advertising deals with the newspaper in response to the widening scandal, including car makers Ford, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi, British bank Halifax and travel company Virgin Holidays.