The phone-hacking scandal engulfing Britain's News of the World tabloid owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News International group widened on Thursday as Murdoch's son said the newspaper would print its last ever edition on Sunday.
"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," he said in a statement. "In addition, I have decided that all of the News of the World's revenue this weekend will go to good causes."
The statement came after the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that the Sunday newspaper may have hacked the phones of relatives of murdered children and victims of the July 7, 2005 attacks on the London transport network and also listened to the voicemail of relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The scandal, which has cast an unflattering light on the way British tabloid newspapers work, dominated the front pages of almost every major British newspaper on Thursday.
The main allegation is that journalists, or investigators hired by them, took advantage of often limited security on mobile phone voicemail boxes to listen to messages left for celebrities, politicians or people involved in major stories.
"The behavior went beyond taking advantage of so-called ‘limited' security on mobile phones. Unfortunately in the past and perhaps now some media organizations continue to ‘hire' private detectives and non-journalists to gather information in situations that are potentially unethical and illegal," Tim Crook, senior lecturer in Media Law and Ethics at Goldsmiths, University of London, told the Global Times. "Their only potential defense and excuse is a legally recognizable ‘public interest.'"
Nevertheless, the width of targets of the voicemail interception – originally presumed to be restricted to the famous, but now reported to have included war dead – has turned the public mood to shock and revulsion.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday he was "revolted" by the scandal and said he would order an inquiry.
However, he resisted calls to put an end to attempts by Murdoch to buy out the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting, as many legislators criticized the deal, and Britain's media regulator agency Ofcom said it was "closely monitoring the situation."
Crook told the Global Times that the giant media organization, presided over by one of the last great press tycoons who already owns nearly 40 percent of the national press, has actually been playing at the boundaries of politics and business.
"Murdoch's stewardship of UK media has resulted in poor ethics and a decline in journalism standards since the 1960s. He leads aggressive and badly edited popular newspapers. The desperate conditions of competition lead to media law and ethics scandals that then precipitate repressive laws undermining media and journalism freedom," Crook said.
"I do not think it is a media pluralistic environment for one foreign corporation to own four national newspapers, and the country's largest independent satellite broadcaster. This is not healthy for a democracy. The UK Parliament needs to assert its democratic power and independence by reducing media oligopoly power," he added.
Concerning the scandal, Crook said that a public enquiry with judicial powers, including a judge on a diverse panel including editors of popular and serious print and broadcast media, with media academics and politicians would be a good idea.
However, Downing Street has said it was less likely that a second inquiry into the ethics of the media would need a judge to chair it, the BBC said.
The Times of London, itself a News Corporation newspaper, said five journalists and the newspaper executives suspected of involvement in the scandal are expected to be arrested within days.
Agencies contributed to this story