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News of the World to close this Sunday

Paper’s last issue will be out this weekend.

Updated at 21:45

AMID FALLING advertising and expanding allegations of phone hacking, the News of the World is to cease publication as of this Sunday, the Guardian reports.

Rupert Murdoch’s son James Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of News Corp Europe and Asia, confirmed that the newspaper would publish its final issue this Sunday. It began publishing 168 years ago.

When contacted by earlier this evening, the Irish edition of the News of the World said it could not comment on the fate of its staff at this time. It employs 22 full-time staff in Ireland. Staff were informed of the NOTW’s closure in a group email from James Murdoch.

The Irish News of the World’s showbiz editor Eoin Murphy tweeted this evening:

Thanks for all ur kind tweets. We are all still in shock but your tweets are much appreciated.

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times (also owned by News International), said via Twitter this evening that he was “devastated and shocked for my colleagues down the corridor in the Irish #NOTW who have just lost their jobs.”

Staff at the News International-owned Irish Sun were told today that their operation would be switching to a seven-day run within the next few months.

The National Union of Journalists said this evening that subeditors working at the Sun (UK edition) had staged a walk-out in protest over the NOTW closure and in solidarity with the newspaper’s staff. The union added that NOTW staff had been told “they will receive a 90-day payment which covers the legally required consultation period for job cuts.”

Under pressure

An increasing number of the News of the World’s advertisers were pulling ads from the publication over this week’s increasing allegations of phone hacking. At the start of the week, it emerged that police investigation the alleged hacking had contacted the parents of murdered children Milly Dowler, Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells over suspicion that their phones had been targeted.

It later emerged that investigators had also contacted the families of the victims of the 7/7 London bombings, including the father of an Irish man who died in the attacks, and the families of British soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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“Sullied be behaviour that was wrong”

In a statement to NOTW staff, James Murdoch said:

When I tell people why I am proud to be part of News Corporation, I say that our commitment to journalism and a free press is one of the things that sets us apart. Your work is a credit to this.

The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company.

The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.

Murdoch said that “wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.”

Shortly before the statement regarding the NOTW’s closure, BrandRepublic reported that the paper had pulled all of the advertising due to be published in this weekend’s edition.

Earlier today, Virgin Media said it had pulled its advertising from the publication, but had been informed that its ads organised for this weekend were already printed.

Read James Mudoch’s statement in full >

Read more: Warnings of potential Irish victims of NOTW phone hacking >

In photos: The growing list of suspected newspaper phone hacking victims >

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