Tabloid accused of hacking slain teen’s phone

July 5, 2011

Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday condemned the alleged hacking of a slain teenage girl’s cell phone by a British tabloid.

Nearly all of Britain’s papers reported Tuesday — citing unnamed sources — that a private investigator hacked into the cellphone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler in 2002 after she was reported missing. The investigator reportedly worked for News of the World, Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday tabloid.

The accusation is the latest installment in a long-running saga here over News of the World intercepting the voicemails of public figures, including celebrities and politicians. In April, the tabloid apologized for the scandal and set up a compensation fund. Several alleged victims are pursuing cases through the courts.

On Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper, which has led the investigation into the hacking scandal, alleged that News of the World deleted messages on Dowler’s cellphone in order to free up space for more messages.

“According to one source, this had a devastating effect,” the Guardian reported. “When her friends and family called again and discovered that her voicemail had been cleared, they concluded that this must have been done by Milly herself and, therefore, that she must still be alive.


Britain 's Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday that he is shocked by allegations that a British tabloid hacked into Milly Dowler’s cellphone. (AP)

“But she was not. The interference created false hope and extra agony for those who were misled by it.”

Politicians lined up Tuesday to express their shock and outrage at what the tabloid purportedly had done. Cameron, who is visiting Afghanistan, told reporters that the allegations, if true, were a “truly dreadful act.”

Rebekah Brooks, then editor of News of the World and now chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, has dismissed calls for her resignation in connection with the scandal.

In an e-mail to staff posted on Tuesday on the Sky News Web site, she wrote: “I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”

Karla Adam is a reporter in the Washington Post’s London bureau. Before joining the Post in 2006, she worked as a freelancer in London for the New York Times and People magazine.
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