Under overwhelming pressure, Rupert Murdoch's son James announced today that News of the World's upcoming Sunday issue will be its last.

The UK-based tabloid is at the center of a dramatic scandal that implicates Murdoch employees in systematic hacking into the cell phones of it story subjects to illegally obtain information. The most troubling violation involves News of the World accessing the voicemail of a missing girl and deleting messages as her mailbox became full, impeding a police investigation and giving her family false hope. The girl, 13-year old Milly Dowler, was later found dead; and it was only after her killer murdered two other women and attempted to kill another that he was eventually apprehended.

Shortly after the Milly Dowler story broke, information was made public that suggested widespread hacking violations - including intrusions on victims of London's 2005 subway bombing and familes of soldiers killed in the Middle East.

Britain's Parliament has publicly chastised Murdoch this week, but told BBC that Downing Street had no role in the decision to close the tabloid. In the announcement of the closure, News International Chairman James Murdoch desribed the alleged behavior as inhuman. The tone of his statement indicated that he expected the allegations were likely correct, admitting that his previous claims that hacking incidents were confined to a single reporter were incorrect:

We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences. This was not the only fault.

The Sunday edition of News of the World will run free of advertising; instead, the advertising space will be donated to charity:

While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, Murdoch said in his announcement, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organisations - many of whom are long-term friends and partners - that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity.

News of the World is among dozens of holdlings of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which is the world's second largest media conglomerate behind the Walt Disney Company. Murdoch is ranked by Forbes as the 13th most powerful person in the world, and ranks at number 112 on their richest person list, with an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion.

[Source: BBC News]