Church Calls for Proper Investigation After News of the World Fallout

As News of the World bid the nation “Thank you and goodbye” with its last ever edition Sunday, the Church of England has called upon its owner, News Corp, to undertake a proper investigation into phone hacking allegations.

In a letter to News Corp, the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group said that the behaviour of the News of the World had been “utterly reprehensible and unethical.”

It welcomed the decision to close the paper after 168 years in print, but said this action was “not a sufficient response to the revelations of malpractice at the paper.”

“Nor does it address the failure of News International and News Corporation executives to undertake a proper investigation and take decisive remedial action as soon as the police uncovered illegal phone hacking in 2006,” the EIAG said.

The group has written to Rupert Murdoch insisting that the board of News Corp take “all necessary measures to instill investor confidence in the ethical and governance standards” of the organization.

“We cannot imagine circumstances in which we would be satisfied with any outcome that does not hold senior executives to account at News Corporation for the gross failures of management at the News of the World," it said.

The Church of England owns more than 350,000 shares in News Corp.

A spokesman for the Church of England suggested to Reuters news agency that there was a possibility of disinvestment.

"There must always in the background be the possibility that, after discussions with the senior management, if you are not influencing what they do or how they do it, there must always be the possibility that we will disinvest,” he said.

"It's quite rare but it does happen."

The Church of England has pulled investment in the past where a company has failed to convince it of meeting ethical standards.

Concerns over practices at the Vedanta mining company led the Church of England to sell its shares in the company.

The News of the World ran its last ever edition today after being brought down by a string of serious allegations of hacking into the phones of celebrities, relatives of Britain's war dead and 7/7 bombing victims, and the voice messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

A police investigation into the scandal is ongoing and the prime minister has given his backing to two inquiries into the conduct of the police and ethics in British journalism.

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