July 08, 2011, 11:20 AM — Usually the penalty for hackers – especially hackers who get juicy information and provide it to the public – isn't terribly severe. For News of the World – Britain's biggest-selling newspaper – the penalty was death.
News International, which is owned by News Corp., the company controlled by controversial Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, announced today it would close the paper shortly after London Metropolitan Police announced it had the names of 4,000 people whose cell phones may have been hacked investigators being paid by News of the World.
The paper is also accused of bribing a small number of London Metropolitan Police with as much as 100,000 pounds for information on high-profile investigations and to help NOTW hack the phones or get access to police files of victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks and victims of particularly high profile crimes, in an effort to get information other publications could not match.
A statement from Murdoch said charges of widespread phone hacking and payments to police are "deplorable and unacceptable." Closing NOTW is one of a series of steps News International will take to fix the problem, he wrote.
In a letter to the staff, Murdoch's son James Murchoch, who heads News International, said most of the bribery and hacking had taken place in 2005 and 2006, had been the work of individuals, not a policy or approved practice at the paper, and that the two editors most responsible went to jail.
In a private conversation with a sexual assault victim who secretly taped the discussion, private investigator Glen Mulcaire said the hacking was far from an individual effort. A "committee" of reporters and editors would decide on targets and assign investigators to the case.