The parent company of the News of the World has admitted liability for the first time over widespread phone hacking cases.

News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, has said it would pay compensation in some cases.

The News of the World came under fire over its use of phone hacking in a scandal that cost the former editor his later job as head of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron.

In the past the paper has always blamed the scandal, involving celebrities, politicians and sports stars, on rogue journalists.

'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,' News International said in a statement.

'We have also asked our lawyers to establish a compensation scheme with a view to dealing with justifiable claims fairly and efficiently.

'We will, however, continue to contest cases that we believe are without merit or where we are not responsible.'

However, News International did not say which cases it was accepting liability for.