The mood in Wapping: Current NOTW staff feel 'left to take blame'


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The Independent Online

Senior executives at the News of the World have been prevented from making public statements in defence of current staff over allegations of phone hacking.

Sources in the paper's newsroom said there was anger at the decision by the paper's owner News International not to let the paper's editor Colin Myler defend current News of the World journalists.

One source suggested Myler was being prevented from "dumping on" the previous regime of Rebekah Brooks who was editor at the time of the latest allegations. Yesterday, Myler privately addressed reporters and editors at the paper at which he appeared to directly blame senior managers at the News of the World for allowing large-scale phone-hacking to take place.

"Like the rest of you I was appalled by these allegations," he told staff. "There is a great deal of anger directed towards this newspaper for past actions under a different regime. If these allegations are proved they would amount to the most devastating breach of journalistic ethics imaginable. These allegations about the NOTW are shocking, but it is not the same newspaper that all of you, my colleagues, recognise today.

"There is an extremely painful period ahead for you all while we get to the bottom of these issues and atone for the wrongs of our predecessors."

In a sign of the low morale, staff assumed that a bunch of white lilies tied with a black ribbon which arrived at the paper on Monday morning had been sent as a "nasty joke". It later transpired that it had been sent to other papers from a PR company working for a firm of florists.

The fallout from the latest hacking allegations also continued to be felt at the News of the World's stable-mates The Times and The Sun.

The Times ran a leader explaining why it had failed to comment on the phone hacking saga earlier. "Before today The Times has taken the view that it ought not to comment on the issue of phone hacking," it said. "We have sought to report the story straight, in good faith, without taking any editorial view. A supportive line invites accusations of speaking from the party script. A critical line is easily written off as a deliberate, insincere attempt to create distance from the story."

The Times columnist Giles Coren said that he had been "abused in the butcher's for working for a (great) paper owned by a man who also owns a bad one".

The Sun trod a softer line. It increased its coverage of the case to a page lead but led on Ms Brooks' statement that she was "sickened" by the allegations.