Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

NotW move 'a bid to protect Brooks'

An MP has called for News International chief executive and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to resign

The MP who secured this week's dramatic parliamentary debate into the phone hacking scandal has claimed the closure of the News of the World was an attempt to protect News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

Chris Bryant, who is taking legal action against the newspaper over claims his phone was hacked, said Ms Brooks should have resigned over allegations that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was hacked when she was editor.

The Labour MP added: "This strategy of chucking first journalists, then executives and now a whole newspaper overboard isn't going to protect the person at the helm of the ship."

Former News of the World editor Piers Morgan told his followers on Twitter that he was "shocked and saddened" by the paper's closure. He added: "Scandals of past week indefensible, but has been a great British newspaper."

Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis said there were "some really good guys" now working at the paper, who were paying the price for the mistakes of the past. He added: "The closure of the News of the World should not allow those people to remove themselves from facing up to the responsibilities they have for what has taken place on their watch."

Publicist Max Clifford said the paper was closed to protect the reputation of Rupert Murdoch's wider media empire, which includes newspapers and TV stations around the world.

"I think the cancer, in News International terms, was too deep and had spread too far to be checked. So they let the patient die because it couldn't be saved," he said. "My belief is that there is a lot more to come - I think that is why the decision was taken to pull the plug."

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said James Murdoch should have announced the dismissal of Ms Brooks as chief executive of News International. She said the recent revelations show "the systemic abuse and corruption at the top of the operation ran by both Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson".

News of the World associate editor David Wooding, who joined the newspaper 18 months ago, said he had heard "nothing official" about the Sun newspaper running for seven days a week.

Mr Wooding added that of the 200 journalists at the paper, only three were there when hacking occurred. "We walked out with our heads held high last night because we have done nothing wrong," he told BBC Breakfast.

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