British tabloid condemns hacking but defends record

10th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The News of the World apologised on Sunday for the phone hacking scandal that caused its closure, but defended its history of campaigns and breaking stories, insisting it had been a "force for good".

In a full-page editorial on page three, normally home to pictures of scantily-clad women, the tabloid said that since it began 168 years ago it had become "part of the fabric of Britain, as central to Sunday as roast dinner".

But it admitted that amid its efforts to hold public figures to account, "for a period of a few years up to 2006, some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards".

"Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry. There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing," the editorial said.

"No justification for the pain caused to victims, nor for the deep stain it has left on a great history. Yet when this outrage has been atoned, we hope history will eventually judge us on all our years."

Inside, the News of the World charted some of its journalists' finest moments under the banner "World's Greatest Newspaper -- 1843-2011".

Investigations editor Mazher Mahmood, aka the "Fake Sheikh" who caught the rich and famous acting up for more than two decades, listed all the criminals he claimed to have helped put behind bars.

He added: "There is a part of me that feels that I should have known what was going on. However, I concentrated on exposing wrongdoing outside -- never imagining that danger lurked within."

On another double-page spread, the paper listed its successful campaigns, including getting compensation for victims of the London bombings in 2005.

And it ran a supportive testimonial from the mother of a little girl who was murdered by a child molester in 2000, and who became the face of the newspaper's highly controversial naming and shaming of paedophiles.

"It is easy to forget in these dark times that the News of the World has often been a force for good -- and that has more than anything to do with the people that work on it," grieving mother Sara Payne wrote.

On a lighter note, the newspaper also pictured its favourite "Nudes of the World", which included shots of actress Cameron Diaz and pop star Rihanna.

Inside, there was a 48-page souvenir pull-out charting major scoops over the past 168 years, demonstrating its tagline, that "all human life is there".

It reprinted front pages on how the Great Train Robbery of 1963 was planned and on a match-fixing scandal in cricket in 2010.

The pull-out also included headlines from the sex scandals that won it the nickname the "News of the Screws", including Divine Brown's kiss-and-tell about actor Hugh Grant, and footballer David Beckham's alleged affair with Rebecca Loos.

But at page ten, normal coverage resumed, with a story about Prince William and Catherine talking to David Beckham in Los Angeles, an exclusive about long-running soap Coronation Street and an attack on overpaid BBC staff.

The editorial ended with an emotional farewell to its readers.

"You've been our life. We've made you laugh, made you cry, made your jaw drop in amazement, informed you, enthralled you and enraged you. You have been our family, and for years we have been yours, visiting every weekend," it said.

"Thank you for your support. We'll miss you more than words can express."

© 2011 AFP

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