Murdoch to fly to Britain over phone-hack crisis

Sat Jul 9, 2011 5:16pm EDT
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By Christina Fincher

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch was set to fly to London to tackle a scandal engulfing his media empire while journalists prepared the last edition of the best-selling Sunday paper they say he has sacrificed to protect plans to expand his television business.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron came under pressure to speed up an inquiry into the allegations of widespread voicemail-hacking, which could jeopardize News Corp's plan to take over the British broadcaster BSkyB.

The scandal has raised questions about relations between politicians, including Cameron -- who hired a former editor of the paper as his spin doctor -- and powerful media owners such as Murdoch, 80.

It has also brought to light accusations that journalists working for Murdoch and others paid police for information.

The front-page headline on Sunday's final edition of the 168-year-old News of the World, best known for its lurid stories of wrongdoing and the sexual misdemeanors of celebrities, said simply "Thank You & Goodbye."

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper, which has led the way in uncovering the scandal, said in a video on the Guardian's web page:

"We've had both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition making the kind of statements that a week ago would have seemed suicidal for politicians, essentially conceding they had turned a blind eye to the abuse of press power because they wanted to keep in with RupertMurdoch."

Murdoch, who made the News of the World his first British newspaper acquisition in 1969, told Reuters he expected to leave for London on Saturday afternoon or Sunday and was not planning any management changes as a result of the crisis.   Continued...

<p>News of the World employee Francine Packer brings tea and coffee to reporters waiting outside News International headquartes in London July 9, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>