U.K. tabloid collapses, plagued by scandals

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has announced that it will close U.K. newspaper the News of the World, which has been embroiled in a phone hacking and police bribery scandal.

This Sunday’s edition will be the 168-year-old paper’s last, James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer, News Corp., and chairman, News International, told the paper’s staff Thursday.

It has recently been alleged that a private investigator working for the paper hacked into the cell phone voicemail accounts of murdered schoolgirls, terrorist bomb victims and soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The paper has also admitted that it has paid police officers for information, which is a criminal act in the U.K.

“When I tell people why I am proud to be part of News Corporation, I say that our commitment to journalism and a free press is one of the things that sets us apart. Your work is a credit to this,” James Murdoch told News of the World staff.

“The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behavior that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company.”

The move follows a deluge of demands from politicians of all parties for the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, the chief exec of News International, the News Corp. subsidiary that controls the News of the World, and for News Corp.’s bid to takeover paybox BSkyB to be halted in its tracks.

Earlier on Thursday speculation had mounted that U.K. media minister Jeremy Hunt was preparing to delay his decision on the takeover.

A consultation on the bid was due to finish Friday, but in the past seven days a reported 100,000 complaints about the deal have been sent to Hunt’s department.

Any greenlight for it is now not expected until September at the earliest.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has called on the government to refer the bid to the Competition Commission in order to provide “breathing space.”

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