Update: The Guardian reports that Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor and former director of communications to Prime Minister David Cameron, will be arrested tomorrow as part of an investigation delving into his role in the cellphone hacking scandal.
In the wake of a cellphone-hacking scandal, in which News of the World reporters hacked voice mails of murder and July 7, 2005, terror victims — and possibly the families of dead soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — the beleaguered tabloid will shut down, The Guardian reported Thursday.
“Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World,” said James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation and chairman of News International, in a statement (pdf).
The 168-year-old paper’s last issue will run without advertisements this weekend. Murdoch has indicated that advertising space in this Sunday’s edition will be donated to charity — “charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers,” said Murdoch in the statement.
Investigators now say the number of phone hacking victims could total 4,000 people. Beyond the cellphone hacks, allegations of News of the World paying bribes to Metropolitan police officers further complicate the issue — a figure that reaches £100,000, according to The Guardian. The Guardian also reported that investigators with Scotland Yard launched an investigation to identify the officers who received these payments from the paper.
But the most recent allegation, that families of fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been hacked, sparked a response from Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband earlier today.
“If true, they represent a gross and shocking betrayal of our heroic service people and their loved ones,” said Miliband of the new allegations, as quoted in The Guardian. “It is grotesque beyond belief that these actions are alleged to have been committed on behalf of a news organization committed to the military covenant.”
In his statement, Murdoch conceded that News of the World employees who engaged in these acts will face the consequences.
“The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself,” said Murdoch in his press release. “Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.”
Murdoch’s statement does not mention Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of the World and current chief executive of News International, who faces calls for resignation in her role in the phone-hacking scandal. However, Rupert Murdoch has indicated that Brooks will hold her position and continue to lead the company.