Asked at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics today about the paper, which he closed last year after the revelation that the paper’s staff had hacked into murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone (although this has since been contested by the police of all people) Murdoch did indeed proffer the view that he should have closed the paper years ago, not because of phone hacking but because he would have been better off with a seven-day Sun, which he now has.
What stopped him? About half the NoW’s four million readers didn’t read the Sun so they would have escaped News International’s clutches had the paper been closed.
This will come as a considerable shock to NoW journalists, managers and staff who probably thought that phone hacking by a few caused the demise of the many, a decision forced on a reluctant proprietor.
Murdoch also said that he should have “torn the paper apart” after the jailing of royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking into Royal Household phones in 2007. But, again, he didn’t.
So what happened to him post-Dowler, the eventual trigger for closing? “I panicked but I’m glad I panicked.”
Murdoch panicking? The old boy’s still full of surprises.