Rupert Murdoch's News International, which operates the News of the World and his other British papers, is admitting that its reporters illegally accessed the voicemails of at least 24 celebrities and will settle a raft of lawsuits over the hacks.

In a statement, News International admitted both the illegal voicemail intrusions and a subsequent whitewash after the first cases of hacking were made public:

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 were not sufficiently robust.

Last week two News of the World journalists were arrested on phone hacking charges, and a criminal investigation—oddly dubbed Operation Weeting—is still underway. News International says it expects to pay out less than $32 million in settlements.

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