News of the World Grants "Unreserved Apology" to Victims of Voicemail Hacking ScandalS

Eight victims of the News of the World's "phone hacking" scandal have received an unprecedented apology from that publication this week. The apology marks a 180-degree reversal for NotW, which had maintained for several years that the job was the work of one reporter.

It was not, the paper officially admitted this week, and the admission will be a costly one, if multi-million pound compensation estimates hold up.

So what happened, you ask? Put simply, back in 2006 a number of the UK's largest gossip rag reporters somehow hacked into at least 24 U.K. celebrity cellphone voicemails on the (alleged) order of the paper's executive team.

Internal emails are set to be turned over the courts, which could reveal just how high up the hacking scandal went. Other rumors place the number of targeted phones and voicemails at 3,000 individuals, and that the hacking behavior was "widespread," although that has yet to be confirmed.

For now, eight hacking victims, including actor Sienna Miller, are set to be offered the apology and an estimated £100,000 each. There are 24 total individuals who have started legal proceedings against the paper. When all is said and done, the scandal could end up costing the UK tabloid an estimated £40 million. [Guardian]