Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid News of the World which has been at the centre of a storm over allegations of widespread illegal phone hacking is to close down, it was announced on Thursday amid growing public outrage over its newsgathering tactics.

In a statement, James Murdoch, chairman of News International which publishes NoW, The Times and the Sun, said the forthcoming Sunday issue of the 168-year-old newspaper would be its last.

He admitted its behaviour had “sullied’’ the reputation of the organisation.

‘’The NoW is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself,’’ he said.

The announcement came as, in the first sign of a public backlash, several high-profile advertisers pulled out their accounts, shares in its parent company fell and thousands of readers signed up to boycott campaigns on social networking sites.

Journalists working for NoW and other Murdoch titles reported being abused by people on the street. Staff at NoW said they were inundated with calls from angry readers following revelations that a detective hired by the paper hacked the phone of families of the victims of the London 2005 bombings and of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It was one call after the other and most of them were people swearing at us,” one staff member said.

Mr. Murdoch continued to resist calls to sack the company’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the paper during the period to which the allegations relate.

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