Tears, then rage, as journalists are told that they face the sack

Announcement was greeted with disbelief at News International's Wapping offices

When staff at the News of the World saw Rebekah Brooks standing outside their editor's office waiting to address them they assumed that, as Andy Coulson had done four years ago, she was about to announce her resignation.

Instead, after five minutes of preamble – in which she is said to have got the age of the paper wrong – she told them they were the ones who would be losing their jobs. Some started crying. "Everyone else was like a zombie," said one member of staff who was there. "The anger came later."

Ms Brooks then said she had been asked to read out a statement by the company's chairman, James Murdoch – but that she thought, in the circumstances, it was best to leave it. She retreated to her office, promising to come back later to answer questions.

It was left to the paper's current editor, Colin Myler – in tears himself – to try to explain the ramifications of the decision to close the 168-year-old paper, the news of which he had only just found out himself. Ms Brooks did not return and was reportedly later escorted from the building by security staff. "The only thing I care about is you," Mr Myler told them after Ms Brooks had left. "You are blameless for what has happened."

One member of the staff who was at the meeting said: "We got a call to come to the editor's office and saw Rebekah with Colin. The last time we were there, it was with Andy when he announced he was resigning, so we just assumed she was going. Then she started talking about how good the News of the World was. It was five or 10 minutes before she told us the paper was closing. To be honest I can't really remember what she said before then. It's all a blur now."

But what he could remember was that, contrary to reports on Sky News, she was not crying. "She did wipe her eyes at one stage – but she wasn't crying. Not like Colin. He was crying his eyes out. He said all he cared about was us and, to be honest, I believe him. Not like her. Murdoch has sacrificed a newspaper to save one woman."

After the news, reporters were left to go back to their desks and absorb the news. They still have one last paper to bring out this Sunday.

At another meeting later in the afternoon with Mr Myler and a representative from News International's human resources department, the staff were told they would get 90 days' pay and then redundancy. They were told there were "limited opportunities" for jobs in other parts of the company. "Someone asked if we should come in after Monday," said one. "We were told there wasn't much point in that."

Staff afterwards pointed out that 90 per cent of the current staff at the paper were not there at the time of the hacking allegations – unlike Ms Brooks – and as the afternoon wore on, shock was replaced by deep and vitriolic anger. "We've heard a lot about disgusting behaviour here in recent days," said one. "This is another example." Another said: "Those of us who lose our jobs will be out for revenge. And Murdoch and Brooks should know better than most that we're very good at getting it." But contrary to some reports, it was not a "lynch mob mentality". "That's just being put out by the company to discredit us still further."

Two members of staff were prepared to speak publicly. The paper's chief political editor, David Wooding, said: "Decent and hard-working journalists are carrying the can for the sins of the previous regime. We knew we were in a bad place but we never expected a bombshell as big as this."

Asked to describe staff reaction to the announcement, Jules Stenson, head of features, said: "Profound disappointment rather than anger. Clearly no one among the current staff condones what's gone on in the past; they share everyone's collective horror about what has been reported this week."

Staff at the The Times, part of the same News International stable, discovered the news only after reading to the very bottom of a 1,000-word email sent by James Murdoch. One member of staff said: "It took a few minutes for everyone to read through the statement. There was a 'fucking hell' from the first person who read it."

Shortly afterwards, the newsroom was addressed by the paper's editor, James Harding, who told them he had only just found out himself. He said the only way to respond to the situation was with journalism that makes its readers proud and lives up to its historical standards. And with that he retreated into his office.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine