News International has issued a statement on phone-hacking, stating that voicemail interception at the News of the World is a "matter of genuine regret" and admitting that internal inquiries into the affair were "not sufficently robust".
The statement says: "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.
"This will begin the process of bringing these cases to a fair resolution with damages appropriate to the extent of the intrusion.
"We will, however, continue to contest cases that we believe are without merit or where we are not responsible.
"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.
"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 on going, we cannot comment further until its completion.
"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."
Commenting on the News International admission of phone hacking at the News of the World, NUJ general scretary Jeremy Dear said: "Now that this admission has finally been made, the need for a high level judicial inquiry into behaviour at News International is more urgent than ever. It is vital that this whole matter is brought out into the open and not hushed up through some in-house compensation scheme.
"The public interest demands that standards at News International, which is spreading like a rash across the whole media world, must be fully examined and exposed."