Sales of the final edition of the News of the World jump 30 per cent as the Sunday tabloid apologises, telling its readers: “Quite simply we lost our way”.
The front page of the tabloid’s farewell issue read: “Thank you and Goodbye”, offering readers an apology alongside a “proud farewell” remembering its greatest scoops.
The newspaper has been scoured for any secret messages craftily added by disgruntled staff and at first, none could be found. Until turning to the crossword page.
The last ever News of the World cryptic crossword contains various clues that may or may not be satirical comments on the situation: “woman stares wildly at calamity”, “string of recordings”, “mix in prison”, “Brook”, “catastrophe” and several others.
Eyebrows have been raised but no doubt it is entirely innocent.
Meanwhile, among those who pay tribute to the paper’s legacy in the final issue are investigations editor Mazher Mahmood, famed for his undercover exposes as the “fake sheikh”, and campaigner Sara Payne.
The 8,674th edition of the UK’s best-selling newspaper includes a 48-page souvenir pullout of its most memorable front pages.
Read more: The day the World ended
The final News of the World hit shelves just hours before News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch flew in to the UK to deal with the phone hacking crisis that forced the paper’s closure.
As the paper went to press for the final time, Mr Murdoch continued to give his full backing to Ms Brooks, insisting she had his “total” support.
Ms Brooks, a former editor of the paper, has remained defiant as the scandal engulfing the tabloid gathered pace in recent weeks.
Resisting calls for her resignation, she has told MPs yesterday she had “no knowledge whatsoever” of claims that Milly was among up to 4,000 people who might have fallen victim to hacking.
And she insisted there was “no reason to believe” that hacking had been used by any other News International titles.
Read more: who are Rebekah Brooks' friends?
As the paper bowed out the fallout from the scandal continues, with a senior Scotland Yard detective expressing his “extreme regret” that he did not act to reopen police inquiries into the hacking allegations two years ago.
Speaking after this week’s revelation that the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was targeted, Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who ruled in July 2009 that there was no new evidence, told the Sunday Telegraph: “We are all extremely shocked by it and it is a matter of massive regret we didn’t deal with it earlier.”
The paper printed an apology on page three today, which read: “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.
“Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry.”
The Labour leader warned Prime Minister David Cameron that unless he stepped in to postpone the deal, he would force the issue to a potentially-damaging Commons vote.
“He has got to understand that when the public have seen the disgusting revelations that we have seen this week, the idea that this organisation, which engaged in these terrible practices, should be allowed to take over BSkyB, to get that 100 per cent stake, without the criminal investigation having been completed and on the basis of assurances from that self-same organisation – frankly that just won’t wash with the public,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr show.
At Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron is to meet Milly Dowler’s family to discuss the Government’s response to the phone hacking crisis.
Milly’s parents Bob and Sally Dowler are suing the News of the World over claims their daughter’s phone was targeted when she went missing in 2002.
As the paper was finally put to bed, the criminal investigation into alleged illegal practices continued to gather momentum with officers poised to make more arrests.
In the last three days, three people have been quizzed by police.