The mood at Wapping, the East London headquarters of Rupert Murdoch's British media empire, was on Saturday described as one of suppressed fury as grim-faced staff — many wearing black to express their protest — put together the last edition of the 168-year-old News of the World which is to shut down amid growing public outrage over allegations that its journalists used illegal practices, including phone hacking and paying bribes, to get stories.
Mr. Murdoch was expected to arrive from America to join the last rites of his favourite and best-selling newspaper, and to take control of the mounting crisis that shows no sign of abating amid reports that more damaging revelations were imminent.
The NoW was his first British acquisition and helped him build a media empire that now includes The Times, The Sun and a part of the satellite broadcaster Sky. His bid to acquire full control of Sky is in jeopardy as a result of the NoW scandal.
An extra two million copies of the last edition, which will carry no advertisements, were being printed to meet the anticipated demand for what could become a collectors' item. There was much curiosity as to what the final front page of the paper, famous for its notoriously sensational headlines, would look like.
The 200-odd staff, most of whom stand to lose their jobs, were reported to be furious that they were being “sacrificed” to protect the real culprits.
They were particularly angry that Rabekah Brooks who was editor of NoW during the period to which many of the allegations relate and is now chief executive of its parent company News International was still in her job.
“It's a very sad day. I'm thinking about my team of talented journalists,” said Colin Myler, the tabloid's outgoing editor.
Chief sub-editor Alan Edwards said: “I feel sad that so many good journalists are actually going to be put on the dole because of what's happened years before they ever worked on the newspaper, so it's a very sad day.”
The News International denied reports that it had deleted emails from an internal archive to cover up evidence of illegal practices.