(Reuters) - Here are the main events in the long-running phone-hacking scandal which brought down the 168-year old News of the World tabloid on Thursday.
The scandal comes at a time when parent firm News Corp is seeking to take over UK pay-TV firm BSkyB in its biggest ever acquisition, worth around $14 billion.
2000 - Rebekah Wade is appointed editor of Britain’s best-selling Sunday tabloid News of the World. She begins a campaign to name and shame alleged pedophiles, leading to some alleged offenders being terrorized by angry mobs. She also campaigns for public access to the Sex Offenders Register, which eventually comes into law as “Sarah’s Law.”
2002 - Teenager Milly Dowler disappears in Walton on Thames, Surrey in March. Her remains are found in September.
2003 - Wade becomes editor of daily tabloid The Sun, sister paper to the News of the World. She tells a parliamentary committee her paper paid police for information. News International later says this is not company practice.
November 2005 - The Sunday tabloid publishes a story on Prince William’s knee injury prompting complaints by royal staff members about voicemail messages being intercepted. The complaints spark a police inquiry.
January 2007 - The News of the World’s royal affairs editor Clive Goodman is jailed for four months.
— Goodman listened to voicemail messages left for the press secretary of Prince Charles and also for two officials who worked for his sons, princes William and Harry.
— His accomplice, private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, is given a six-month prison term. Goodman and Mulcaire admitted in November 2006 to plotting to unlawfully intercept communications while Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to five other charges of unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.
— After the two were sentenced, News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigns, saying he took “ultimate responsibility.”
May 2007 - Coulson becomes the Conservative Party’s director of communications under leader David Cameron.
June 2009 - Rebekah Wade becomes CEO of News International. Wade marries Charlie Brooks and becomes Rebekah Brooks.
July 2009 - The Guardian newspaper says News of the World reporters, with the knowledge of senior staff, illegally accessed messages from the mobile phones of celebrities and politicians while Coulson was editor.
September 2009 - Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones and former executive chairman of Murdoch’s newspaper arm in Britain, tells a committee of legislators any problem with phone hacking was limited to one already well-publicized case. He says they carried out a wide review and found no new evidence.
February 2010 - The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee says in a report it is “inconceivable” that managers at the paper did not know about the practice, which the legislators say was more widespread than the paper had admitted.
September 2010 - MPs ask parliament’s standards watchdog to begin a new investigation into the hacking allegations at the Sunday tabloid and its former editor Coulson.
— Pressure for a new investigation grew after the New York Times suggested News of the World reporters “routinely” sought to hack phones.
January 2011 - British police open a new investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the tabloid. Police had said in July 2009 there was no need for a probe into the hacking claims.
— The News of the World announces it has sacked senior editor Ian Edmondson after an internal inquiry.
— Coulson resigns as Cameron’s communications chief.
April 2011 - News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and Edmondson are arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept mobile phone messages. They are released on bail. The News of the World admits its role in the phone hacking.
June 2011 - Levi Bellfield is found guilty of murdering schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
July 2011 - A lawyer for Dowler’s family, says he learned from police that the schoolgirl’s voicemail messages had been hacked while police were searching for her. Police later say that they have also been in touch with the parents affected by the 2002 murders in the town of Soham, where two 10-year-old girls were seized and killed by a school caretaker.
— On July 5, News International says that new information has been given to police. The BBC says it related to emails appearing to show payments were made to police for information and were authorized by Coulson.
— The list of those possibly targeted includes victims of the London suicide bombings of 2005, and the parents of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007.
— On July 6 Cameron says he is “revolted” by allegations that investigators from the paper eavesdropped on the voicemail of victims of crimes and says he will order an inquiry.
— Murdoch appoints News Corp executive Joel Klein to oversee an investigation into the hacking allegations.
— New claims reported by Britain’s Daily Telegraph say that the Sunday tabloid hacked into the phones of relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
— Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation announces on July 7 it will close down the News of the World. The July 10 edition will be the last according to a statement from Murdoch’s son James, who heads the British newspaper arm of News Corp.
— On July 8 David Cameron promises sweeping news regulatory rules for the British press, and called for a public inquiry into what went wrong over a decade at the News of the World. He took full responsibility for employing Coulson, defending his decision to give him a “second chance.”
— Coulson is arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and suspicion of corruption.
— The News of the World’s former royal editor, Goodman, is arrested in connection with a police operation looking at alleged payments to police by journalists at the paper.
— Police search the offices of the Daily Star Sunday tabloid where Goodman freelanced. The Star is owned by businessman Richard Desmond and is not connected to News Corp.