The News of the World has paid the ultimate price for the phone hacking scandal – the paper is to cease publication this Sunday.
All 22 full-time staff and another 10 freelances at the paper’s Irish edition will lose their jobs after Sunday’s final edition.
Rupert Murdoch’s News International organization made the embarrassing announcement on Thursday afternoon amid growing anger at the phone hacking scandal surrounding the paper’s UK and Irish editions.
British police estimate they have identified as many as 4,000 victims of the paper’s tactic of hacking into private phones, including the Irish father of a victim of the 7/7 bombs in London.
News International confirmed that the paper will close after 168 years in business on Sunday. No adverts will be placed in the newspaper this weekend.
News Corporation chairman James Murdoch, son of Rupert, issued a statement to staff, praising the paper’s achievements but condemning the hacking revelations.
“The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account,” he said. “But it failed when it came to itself.”
British police are investigating claims that News International journalists and hired investigators took advantage of often limited security on mobile phone voicemail boxes to listen in to messages left for celebrities, politicians or people involved in major stories.
The revelation that the practice involved victims of crime came when police said a private detective working for the News of the World in 2002 hacked into messages left on the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler while police were still looking for her.
It has since been claimed that the paper accessed the phones of the Soham murder victims’ parents, the parents of missing child Madeline McCann and the families of victims killed in the 2005 London bombings.
The families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are also alleged to have been targeted.
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News International’s parent company News Corporation, had branded claims of phone hacking at the paper as ‘deplorable and unacceptable’.
Murdoch’s bid to take full control of BSkyB is currently being examined by the British government.