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Shuttered News of the World sales go to charity

By Reuters
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 8:03 EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch’s News International is to donate 2.8 million pounds ($4.4 million) from the last edition of theNews of the World, it said on Tuesday, as it set out how it had handled the closure of the tabloid at the center of a phone-hacking scandal.

Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of the News Corp British newspaper arm, said the money had been raised from the sale of 3.8 million copies from the last edition in July of the paper which was found to have hacked the phones of everyone from celebrities to crime victims in search of exclusive stories.

Following the closure, nearly 200 people have left the company and 65 members of staff have been redeployed elsewhere.

“Since the closure of the paper, we have worked to find roles throughout the company for as many of those affected as possible,” Mockridge told staff in an email. “Of those who applied for jobs, two thirds were made an offer.”

Those staying on at the media group included the staff from a magazine which had accompanied the Sunday tabloid before it was switched to accompany the Saturday Sun newspaper. A number have also been retained to work on a digital start up, which the company is yet to announce.

Mazher Mahmood, dubbed the “Fake Sheikh” investigative reporter, has moved to work for Murdoch’s Sunday Times.

Mockridge, who was updating staff at the end of a legally mandated 90-day consultation period, said 81 members of staff had opted to take the early-leaver option and around 100 were made redundant.

“All former News of the World staff were offered enhanced redundancy terms,” he said, adding that the 2.8 million pounds would be donated to three UK-based charities. Five charities in Ireland will split the profits from the Irish sale.

The British agencies were children’s charity Barnardo’s, Forces Children’s Trust, which helps the children of dead or wounded members of the armed forces, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity.

Murdoch’s News International closed the News of the World, the most popular Sunday tabloid at the time, in July at the height of the hacking scandal, in a bid to contain the crisis which had hammered the value and reputation of News Corp.

The paper was closed after senior management admitted that a private investigator working for the tabloid had hacked into the phones of celebrities, crime victims and Britain’s war dead to generate stories.

But many staff, who said the hacking occurred before their time at the paper, felt they had been fired to protect the reputation and jobs of senior management. Several former staff have since told Reuters that they have struggled with the News of the World on their jobs resume.

Mockridge replaced Rebekah Brooks, a key aide to Rupert Murdoch, who was eventually forced to step down after initially refusing. Brooks, who was also a former News of the World editor, had angered staff by holding on to her job when the paper closed.

The National Union of Journalists at the time said the eventual resignation of Brooks was “too little too late” for the journalists who would lose their jobs.

($1 = 0.638 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Reuters
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