News of the World to publish last issue on Sunday

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THIS Sunday's issue of the News of the World will the last ever edition of the newspaper.

In an announcement made earlier today, News International chairman James Murdoch said that the good work that was done by the tabloid newspaper had been "sullied by behaviour that was wrong."

He went on to say that if the current allegations of hacking were true, the newspaper had no place within the company.

The paper is accused of hacking into the mobile phones of murder victims such as schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the families of those killed in the 7/7 terror attacks.

News of the World editor Colin Myler said today was "the saddest day of my professional career" but added that "nothing should diminish everything this great newspaper has achieved".

The move has been slammed by the National Union of Journalists, who claimed the move was an example of cynical opportunism, adding that Rebekah Brooks, News International's chief executive, should have be sacked.

Mr Murdoch said in a statement: "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.

"The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account, but it failed when it came to itself."

Addressing News of the World staff, Mr Murdoch said he wanted all News International's journalism to be "beyond reproach".

He made it clear that some people would lose their jobs as a result of the paper's closure.

He said: "Many of you, if not the vast majority of you, are either new to the company or have had no connection to the News of the World during the years when egregious behaviour occurred.

"I can understand how unfair these decisions may feel. Particularly for colleagues who will leave the company. Of course we will communicate next steps in detail and begin appropriate consultations.

"I do not want the legitimacy of what you do to be compromised by acts of others. I want all journalism at News International to be beyond reproach.

Mr Murdoch said News International was co-operating "fully and actively" with the two Scotland Yard inquiries into allegations of phone hacking and payments to police officers.

He said the company acknowledged it had made mistakes and was doing its "utmost" to "fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again".

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: "This shows the depths to which Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants at News International are prepared to stoop.

"The announcement James Murdoch should be making today is the dismissal of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News International.

"The shocking revelations this week show beyond doubt the systemic abuse and corruption at the top of the operation ran by both Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. Yet News International has persistently lied about the extent of this scandal and tried to pass it off as a problem created by a couple of rogue reporters.

"Closing the title and sacking over 200 staff in the UK and Ireland, and putting scores more freelances and casuals out of a job, is an act of utter cynical opportunism."

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, one of the alleged victims of phone hacking, said that closing the paper would not resolve the problems at News International.

"Cutting off the arm doesn't mean to say you've solved it. There is still the body and the head and the same culture and that's why there has be a public inquiry into it," he said.

"I cannot accept for a moment that at the top of the company, Mr Murdoch - certainly Rebekah Brooks - didn't know what was going on.

"Now some poor suckers on the News of the World are now going to be put on the dole simply because they've decided to make a cost-cutting exercise which they said they were going to do a week or so ago."

First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: "This is undoubtedly the right decision, as the paper was irreparably tainted by these disgraceful and deplorable activities.

"Of course, as the Information Commissioner's report in December 2006 regarding Operation Motorman indicates, titles across the newspaper industry have been involved in breaching data protection laws, and that wider issue also needs to be addressed.

"Nothing was done by successive Westminster governments despite the Commissioner's recommendations for tough action, and that now has to be revisited in light of these latest appalling revelations about News of the World."