Britain’s News of the World hits the newsstands for the last time today, ending its 168-year history of scoops and scandal with the headline “Thank You and Goodbye”.
In a full-page editorial, Britain’s top-selling weekly newspaper apologized to readers for the long-running scandal over phone hacking that caused its closure, saying: “Quite simply, we lost our way.”
But the row is far from over, and as owner Rupert Murdoch headed to London to take personal charge of the crisis, it was reported that police would soon be questioning his top British executive, Rebekah Brooks.
More than 200 staff now face an uncertain future, some people were in tears.
He held up the final front page, a montage of some of the paper’s best-known splashes and a message saying: “After 168 years, we finally say a sad but very proud farewell to our 7.5 million loyal readers.”
But the editorial also admitted that for a few years up to 2006, some of its employees had fallen “shamefully short” of the standards it sought to uphold.
“Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry,” it said.
“There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing. No justification for the pain caused to victims, nor for the deep stain it has left on a great history.”
Murdoch was due to arrive in Britain on Sunday, a source at his News Corp. said, to take charge of the crisis which has threatened to contaminate other parts of his media empire.
The British government is due to decide soon on News Corp.’s controversial bid to take full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB, but opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband will reportedly try to hold a vote in parliament this week to suspend the deal.
Murdoch may also need to step in to defend Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of his British newspaper division, News International.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that police wanted to question Brooks over what she knew about phone hacking and alleged illegal payments to police while she was editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003.
She has always denied wrongdoing and Murdoch has strongly backed her.
Her successor as editor, Andy Coulson, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of involvement in phone hacking and illegal police payments.
In a shocking move on Thursday, Murdoch cut his losses and shut the paper, although there is speculation that he will replace it with a Sunday version of the six-day Sun, another of his News International titles.