The apology – and what it means

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The Independent Online

News International statement with regard to voicemail interception at the 'News of the World' during 2004-2006:

This is a deliberate ploy to limit the company's liability to a specific time-frame and title.

Following an extensive internal investigation and disclosures through civil legal cases, News International has decided to approach some civil litigants with an unreserved apology and an admission of liability in cases meeting specific criteria. We have also asked our lawyers to establish a compensation scheme with a view to dealing with justifiable claims fairly and efficiently.

The company is hoping that by admitting liability it will save on legal costs and the amount of compensation it will have to pay. Any claimant who passes up the offer faces the risk that they could be awarded smaller damages in court and would have to pay legal costs.

This will begin the process of bringing these cases to a fair resolution with damages appropriate to the extent of the intrusion.

Top of the company's agenda is to prevent more damaging allegations coming out. The company may well insist on gagging orders to prevent those they settle with from talking.

We will, however, continue to contest cases that we believe are without merit or where we are not responsible.

News International believes that some of the claims they are facing – particularly from politicians – are spurious with no evidence to back them up. In addition they're trying to prevent a slew of further claims coming on the back of the new statement.

That said, past behaviour at the News of the World in relation to voicemail interception is a matter of genuine regret. It is now apparent that our previous inquiries failed to uncover important evidence and we acknowledge our actions then were not sufficiently robust.

In 2009 the current editor of the News of the World, Colin Myler, told MPs he had conducted a "thorough investigation" into phone hacking and had uncovered no evidence of widespread wrongdoing. They are finally admitting that was misleading.

We continue to co-operate fully with the Metropolitan Police. It was our discovery and voluntary disclosure of this evidence in January that led to the re-opening of the police investigation. With that investigation ongoing, we cannot comment further until its completion.

Total self-justification and not strictly true. They only re-opened their investigation after evidence emerged in civil cases that laid bare the alleged conspiracy and suggested that the company's line that the hacking had been an isolated incident was no longer tenable.

News International's commitment to our readers and pride in our award-winning journalism remains undiminished. We will continue to engage with and challenge those who attempt to restrict our industry's freedom to undertake responsible investigative reporting in the public interest.

Errant celebrities watch out. Mazher Mahmood (the fake Sheikh) has not been pensioned off just yet.