New allegations against News of the World now say that they were guilty of hacking the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler after she went missing, other crime victims and families of fallen British soldiers.
Dowler went missing from her home in Surrey, England, March 2002. Her remains were found six months later in a wooded area in Hampshire. A nightclub doorman has been convicted of her murder. A report in the Guardian newspaper alleges employees of the newspaper hacked into Ms. Dowler’s mobile phone in the first few days following her disappearance and may have deleted messages to make space for more messages. Many messages were left by Dowler’s family and friends asking the missing teenager to get in touch. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive. Police fear evidence may have been destroyed.
“It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn that the News of the World had no humanity at such a terrible time,” said Dowler family lawyer Mark Lewis in a statement. “The fact that they were prepared to act in such a heinous way that could have jeopardized the police investigation and give them false hope is despicable.” He said the Dowler family was now pursuing a damages claim against the News of the World.
The Guardian reports that Scotland Yard has begun a new investigation, dubbed “Operation Weeting,” into the possible hacking of Dowler’s phone after studying notes kept by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was a full-time employee of News of the World.
Mulcaire, along with former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, was jailed in 2007 after admitting to unlawfully intercepting voice mails left for three aides to the Royal family between November 2005 and August 2006.
News of the World is part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corporation