LONDON (AP) — News International announced Thursday it is shutting down the News of the World, the best-selling tabloid at the center of Britain’s phone hacking scandal.

James Murdoch, who heads European operations for the paper’s parent company, said the 168-year-old weekly newspaper would publish its last edition Sunday. The scandal has cost the Sunday-only paper prestige and prompted dozens of companies to pull their ads.

Murdoch said in a memo to staff that all revenue from the final issue, which will carry no ads, would go to “good causes.”

The announcement took British media-watchers — and the newspaper’s staff — by surprise.

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 News of the World, which sells close to 3 million copies a week, has acknowledged that it hacked into the mobile phone voice mails of politicians, celebrities and royal aides. A reporter and a private investigator working for the paper were jailed for phone hacking in 2007.

But in recent days the allegations have expanded to take in the phones of missing children who were found slain, the relatives of terrorist victims and families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, 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.”

“While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organizations many of whom are long-term friends and partners — that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity,” he said.

News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop denied rumors that The Sun, the News of The World’s sister paper that publishes Monday through Saturday, would become a seven-day operation to pick up the slack. Still, she seemed to leave room for further developments.

“It’s not true at the moment,” she said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  1. Gardy Wright says:

    If you advertize on GAWKER, Your brand has been boycotted!

    Here are the steps you can take to remove the boycott:

    Do not continue to buy advertising on the tabloid sites of GAWKER MEDIA, those sites are:
    Gawker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Jalopnik & IO9

    Do you want to be associated with an entity whose staff the San Mateo Police department is forcibly entering the homes of for criminal investigations?

    Do you want to be involved with an organization that a major corporation has charged with criminal actions?

    Do you want to be associated with an organization who makes their money off of lies, falsehoods and the lowest possible level of tabloid

    Do you want your brand associated with an organization whom the New Yorker says is blogged by a demographic made up of 16-18 year old unemployed, emotionally disturbed, disenchanted, drug addicted teenagers?

    Do you want your brand associated with a company who paid their staff to sabotage the equipment in the corporate booths at the Consumer Electronics Show?

    Do you want your brand associated with a publisher that pays his staff to pretend to be bloggers in order to create false controversy?

    Do you want to have your brand associated with PROSTITUTION?

    The British tabloid crisis has now reached America. Do you want your brand involved in the next revelations?

    Public: Encourage the police to continue their investigations of Gawker Media.

    For more information see:

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