Rebekah Brooks has told News International staff that it is 'inconceivable' she knew about phone hacking in the Milly Dowler case. Photograph: Indigo/Getty Images
When I wrote to you last week updating you on a number of business issues I did not anticipate having to do so again so soon.
However, I wanted to address the company as a matter of urgency in light of the new claims against the News of the World.
We were all appalled and shocked when we heard about these allegations yesterday.
I have to tell you that I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened.
Not just because I was editor of the News of the World at the time, but if the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable.
Our first priority must be to establish the full facts behind these claims. I have written to Mr and Mrs Dowler this morning to assure them News International will vigorously pursue the truth and that they will be the first to be informed of the outcome of our investigation.
Our lawyers have also written to their solicitor Mark Lewis to ask him to show us any of the evidence he has so we can swiftly take the appropriate action.
At the moment we only know what we have read.
Since 2006, when the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) seized the documentation from the private investigator Glen Mulcaire, News International has had no visibility on the evidence available.
The process of discovery is complicated. The MPS first present relevant documents to potential victims. We only see the evidence much later during the legal process.
This morning, in our regular Operation Weeting meeting, we have offered the MPS our full co-operation to establish the veracity of these fresh allegations.
I have also written to the chief constable of Surrey police. Although their nine year investigation is now complete, I want to offer our co-operation should they intend to discuss this matter with us.
I am determined that News International does everything it can to co-operate fully and pro-actively with the MPS, as we have been doing for some time, to verify the facts so we can respond in a robust and proper way.
It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way.
If the allegations are proved to be true then I can promise the strongest possible action will be taken as this company will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour.
I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.
I am proud of the many successful newspaper campaigns at the Sun and the News of the World under my editorship.
In particular, the 10-year fight for Sarah's Law is especially personal to me.
The battle for better protection of children from paedophiles and better rights for the families and the victims of these crimes defined my editorships.
Although these difficult times will continue for many months ahead, I want you to know that News International will pursue the facts with vigour and integrity.
I am aware of the speculation about my position. Therefore it is important you all know that as chief executive, I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues.
We will face up to the mistakes and wrongdoing of the past and we will do our utmost to see that justice is done and those culpable will be punished.