Ian Burrell: Far from the scrapheap, 'NOTW' staff land on their feet

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The Independent Online

The managing editor of The Sun, Richard Caseby, went before a House of Lords committee last week and claimed that 200 people had been "thrown out of work" owing to misreporting of misdemeanours at the News of the World.

Aside from the fact that News Corp's brutal corporate decision to shut down its Sunday tabloid in July caused widespread shock – and was certainly not regarded within the industry as the inevitable response to The Guardian's report that NOTW reporters had hacked then deleted Milly Dowler's voicemail messages – Mr Caseby's passionate outburst paints an impartial picture of a journalistic scrapheap.

Because although it is true that some 180 people who depended on the NOTW for their living have taken (relatively generous) redundancy packages, the majority of the paper's best-known staff have already found new positions in other parts of the media. An additional 65 NOTW workers have been found posts within News Corp, some at senior levels.

Dan Wootton, the paper's Kiwi showbiz writer, appeared on Sky News on the day of the NOTW's closure standing outside the News International security gate and praising the contribution to society of the 168-year-old title. He has since been snapped up by the Daily Mail, while he also writes a column for the showbiz magazine Now and appears as a pundit on the ITV show Lorraine. The Daily Telegraph moved swiftly to hire the NOTW's witty film critic Robbie Collin, while the Mail on Sunday picked up NOTW TV critic Ian Hyland to write for magazine Live.

The former No 3 on the paper, Mike Small, has returned to Trinity Mirror for a job on the backbench of the Daily Mirror, while reporter Keith Gladdis has a staff job on the Daily Mail. The byline of NOTW stalwart Dominic Herbert appeared last week in the Sunday Mirror.

Among the NOTW's star football writers, Neil Ashton has signed for the Daily Mail and Andy Dunn is working for the Sunday Mirror and writes a Big Match Verdict column for the paper and blog for its website.

Those who were glued to Leveson Inquiry coverage last week will not be surprised to learn that the former NOTW editor Colin Myler and the paper's legal director Tom Crone, both involved in a bitter war of words with their former boss James Murdoch, have not yet negotiated a settlement with the company. And it is true that some of the Sunday tabloid's journalists are struggling to resurrect their careers in the wake of their paper's sudden closure.

But other NOTW staffers have moved within News International, even to upmarket stable mate The Sunday Times. James Mellor, who was running the news desk at the tabloid, has been appointed deputy news editor of the broadsheet. Mazher Mahmood, the famous "fake sheikh", has taken his investigative skills back to the Sunday Times, the paper he left under a cloud more than 20 years earlier.

But by far the biggest refuge for workers on the "Screws" has been its sister paper – and once close adversary – The Sun. Victoria Newton, the former NOTW deputy editor, was lined up to succeed Myler but has returned to the paper where she previously worked as features editor. Newton is number three in the hierarchy of Sun editor Dominic Mohan but, if News Corp finds the confidence to launch a Sunday edition of its mass-selling daily, she is likely to be at the helm of the operation.

The Sun has hired a raft of other former NOTW staffers, including sports writer Dan King, who has a column, Sport Uncovered, the award-winning reporter Stephen Moyes and former NOTW chief feature writer Jane Atkinson. Also making the short journey within News International's tower block in east London are Dan Jones (the former NOTW consumer affairs writer, who continues to work in that specialist area) and design specialist Gary Ollason, who joined the NOTW from the Scottish Sun.

Dave Wooding, the silver-haired former political head of the NOTW and accomplished television contributor, is working for The Sun as campaigns editor. As Caseby went on the attack last week, Wooding was supporting him online with a series of posts on Twitter in which he asserted that the death of his former paper had been the result of erroneous coverage in The Guardian.

Staff on the NOTW's colour supplement Fabulous simply transferred to the Saturday edition of The Sun. Other NOTW refugees, most notably the former picture editor Paul Ashton, are working on an NI digital project in London, believed to relate to the production of apps.

All of which suggests that, while Rupert and James Murdoch may have felt that they had no option other than to close Britain's best-selling Sunday paper, other parts of Fleet Street have not been so ready to heap pariah status on the staff who produced that title.