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Massive Phone Hacking Scandal Leads To Investigation Of Rupert Murdoch Company, Tabloid Shut Down Amid Uproar

UPDATE: Bowing to intensifying public and political pressure, Rupert Murdoch's son has announced that the News of the World will publish its last issue on Sunday. The uproar in Britain over a tabloid hacking into private cell phone data has intensified as it was revealed some of the phones may have belonged to dead soldiers, missing children and victims of terrorist attacks. British Prime Minister David Cameron has called the revelations "absolutely disgusting" and has called for public inquiries, on top of an ever-widening police investigation, into the scandal.

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  • A News of the World sign is seen by an entrance to a News International building in London, Wedne...

    A News of the World sign is seen by an entrance to a News International building in London, Wednesday, July 6, 2011. Britain's tabloid phone hacking scandal dominated the airways Wednesday as it swelled to allegedly involve more missing schoolgirls and the families of London terror victims. News International, the British linchpin of Rupert Murdoch's global News Corp. media empire, was under intense pressure due to its News of the World tabloid, which has admitted hacking into the phones of celebrities but now stands accused of possibly interfering with police investigations into missing girls who were found murdered. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) LONDON (AP)--News International says it is shutting down the News of the World tabloid that is at the center of Britain's phone hacking scandal. James Murdoch, who heads the newspaper's European operations, says the 168-year-old newspaper will publish its last edition Sunday. The scandal has cost the paper prestige and prompted dozens of companies to pull their ads. The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid is accused of hacking into the cell phone messages of victims ranging from missing schoolgirls to grieving families, celebrities, royals and politicians in a quest for attention-grabbing headlines. Police say they are examining 4,000 names of people who may have been targeted by the paper. The Sunday-only newspaper has acknowledged that it hacked into the phones of politicians, celebrities and royal aides, but in recent days the allegations have expanded to take in the phones of missing children, the relatives of terrorist victims and families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. James Murdoch said if the allegations were true, "it was inhuman and has no place in our company." "Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad," he said, "and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued." Lawmakers, advertisers and outraged citizens turned up the heat on News of the World as more accusations surfaced Wednesday of possible hacking attempts by the paper into cellphones belonging to the relatives of victims of criminal and terrorist attacks. Prime Minister David Cameron backed calls for public inquiries into the reporting practices and ethics of journalists at the News of the World and into why a previous police investigation failed to uncover the allegations now emerging. But those inquiries would have to wait until the current police investigation is completed, Cameron said. The British leader expressed revulsion at the possibility that a private investigator hired by the tabloid had targeted the phones of family members of three murdered English schoolgirls and victims of the 2005 suicide attacks on the London transport system, which killed 52 people six years ago Thursday. Previously, the hacking allegations had centered on the cellphones of movie stars, athletes and other famous figures. "We are no longer talking here about politicians and celebrities. We are talking about murder victims, potentially terrorist victims, having their phones hacked into. It is absolutely disgusting," Cameron told Parliament, which convened a three-hour emergency debate on the issue.

  • Cameron's comments came on a day of multiple developments in a scandal that has morphed virtually overnight from a low-boil affair involving the rich and famous into Topic A of the national conversation. Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire businessman whose global media empire includes the News of the World, moved to contain what has become a huge public relations nightmare, issuing a statement Wednesday that called the alleged hacking "deplorable and unacceptable." He reiterated the commitment of News International, the parent company of the News of the World, to cooperate with the police investigation and expressed his confidence in the leadership of Rebekah Brooks, the head of News International and one of his closest confidants. But Murdoch's assurances are unlikely to dampen the public anger that is engulfing his British operations and that could seriously threaten his attempt to expand his footprint on the media landscape here by taking over satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

  • In this May 24, 2011 file photo, media magnate Rupert Murdoch speaks during the e-G8 conference, ...

    In this May 24, 2011 file photo, media magnate Rupert Murdoch speaks during the e-G8 conference, gathering Internet and information technologies leaders and experts, in Paris. Britain's prime minister demanded inquiries into a burgeoning phone hacking scandal. (AP Photo/Bob Edme, File) A clutch of companies announced Wednesday that they were withdrawing their advertisements in the News of the World, including Halifax bank and carmakers Ford, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi. On Facebook and Twitter, ordinary Britons urged their compatriots to boycott Murdoch's properties such as the Times of London and the Sun, Britain's bestselling tabloid. And pressure mounted on Brooks to resign or be removed. She was editor of the News of the World in 2002 when the private eye hired by the paper allegedly intercepted voicemail messages left on the phone of a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and later found killed. "She should take responsibility and stand down," Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, said in the House of Commons. "These events show a systematic set of abuses which demonstrate the use of power without responsibility in our country." Brooks denies knowledge of the alleged hacking and has pledged to get to the bottom of what happened in 2002. Critics scoff that she is therefore investigating her own conduct. News International said in a statement that it was zeroing in on who commissioned or authorized private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to hack into the phone of kidnap victim Milly Dowler.

  • In this image made from television, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks in the Hous...

    In this image made from television, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks in the House of Commons in London, as Defence Secretary Liam Fox, right, looks on, Wednesday July 6, 2011. Cameron called for a further inquiry into the phone hacking scandal engulfing the tabloid News of the World, saying an independent inquiry needs to look at why an original police investigation did not get to bottom of what happened when the scandal first emerged several years ago. The demand came as British police revealed they would investigate allegations that officers received payments from the tabloid newspaper, thanks to new documents given police by the tabloid's parent company, News International. (AP Photo/PA, file) The company has also reportedly turned over evidence that the News of the World paid police officials thousands of dollars for information under Andy Coulson, Brooks' successor as editor. Coulson later became Cameron's chief communications aide at 10 Downing St. but stepped down earlier this year when his tenure at the News of the World came under renewed scrutiny. Scotland Yard, stung by accusations that it carried out only a halfhearted investigation when the hacking allegations first came to light several years ago, has devoted dozens of officers to the current probe. Murdoch's bid for control of BSkyB is under consideration by the government, which has indicated its willingness to let the takeover go through. A preliminary decision is due in the coming days over whether the takeover would violate rules on media competition.

  • British actor Hugh Grant, right, speaks with an unidentified 'Hacked Off' campaigner outs...

    British actor Hugh Grant, right, speaks with an unidentified 'Hacked Off' campaigner outside the Houses of Parliament in London, where a debate was being held into the allegations of phone hacking by journalists Wednesday July 6, 2011. Grant claims to have been one of the victims of the hacking scandal. (AP Photo/Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)