News In Depth
Murdoch 'panicked' at NotW closure
Rupert Murdoch "panicked" when he took the decision to close the News of the World, he told the Leveson Inquiry.
He said the "whole business" of the now-defunct tabloid had been a "serious blot" on his reputation and told the inquiry into press standards he wished he had closed it years earlier.
The media mogul said: "When the Milly Dowler situation was first given huge publicity - I think all the newspapers took this as a chance to really make a really national scandal - it made people all over the country aware of this, who had not been following.
"You could feel the blast coming in the window almost.
"And I would say it succinctly, I panicked. But I am glad I did."
He said the decision was taken "very quickly" by him, his son James Murdoch, and former editor and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.
"It was a decision taken very quickly by my son, I think Mrs Brooks was still there, and myself.
"It was done, like that."
He added: "I am sorry I didn't close it years before and put a Sunday Sun in," but said he held back because of its readers.
"Only half of them ever read The Sun," he added. "In fact only a quarter of them read it regularly. So that probably was brought into consideration at the time."
Mr Murdoch's expanded on comments in his written witness statement, which said the firm decided to close the News of the World because "the credibility of the brand with its readers was irretrievably destroyed".
His statement said the decision to launch the Sunday edition of The Sun was intended to demonstrate the company's commitment to the newspaper.
His statement added: "In February 2012, after waves of dawn arrests, our employee morale was dangerously low, and some questioned our commitment to the Sun.
"Against that background, I decided it was appropriate to launch the Sunday edition, to demonstrate to our employees and our readers our commitment to the Sun and to putting out the best newspaper in Britain, while observing the highest ethical standards."
Explaining the decision to lift suspensions on journalists who had been arrested for alleged unlawful payments to the police when the new publication was launched, he said: "It was terribly difficult to plan the ongoing operation of the Sun, let alone to consider extending its operations to seven days a week, with key employees under suspension since their arrest.
"There was no prospect of a charging decision for several months.
"Therefore, at the same time as launching the Sunday edition, we decided to welcome back those employees who had been suspended.
"They are innocent until proven guilty and have not, to date, been charged.
"We took this action to protect the jobs of our employees and their families - the vast bulk of whom were not implicated in any way in the activities at issue - to serve our readers, and to demonstrate our commitment to the most popular newspaper in Britain."