Murdoch flies to UK as paper dies, scandal lives

Posted July 10, 2011, at 8:29 p.m.

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch touched down in London on Sunday to take charge of his media empire’s phone-hacking crisis as his best-selling Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, published its last. The scandal lives on despite his sacrifice of the 168-year-old paper at the heart of it.

The scrapping of the News of the World has not tempered British anger over improprieties by journalists working for Murdoch, and his $19 billion deal to take full control of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting remains in jeopardy.

The 80-year-old News Corp. CEO was seen reading the paper’s last issue in a red Range Rover as he was driven to the east London offices of his U.K. newspaper division, News International. Later, at his London apartment, he met with News International’s chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, who led News of the World when its reporters committed some of the most egregrious ethical lapses.

Murdoch has publicly backed Brooks, who insists she had no knowledge of wrongdoing. He put his hand on her shoulder as they left the residence about an hour after she arrived; they smiled for the pack of photographers and camera crews gathered outside before walking to a nearby hotel for a meal.

The drama gripping media watchers in Britain and beyond has expanded at breakneck pace following allegations News of the World journalists paid police for information and hacked into the voicemails of young murder victims and the grieving families of dead soldiers. Three people have been arrested, including Prime Minister David Cameron’s former communications chief.

In its last edition Sunday, the paper issued a full-page apology.

“We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, 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,” the editorial read. “Quite simply, we lost our way.”

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