UK tabloid may have hacked murder victim's cell
I've been watching this story unfold with some interest since it broke in the U.S.; folks who know more than I do are welcome to correct any mistakes I've made and contribute more info. The basic rundown from what I've read so far is that reporters working for the British tabloid paper News of the World have been accused of hacking into peoples' cell phones.
At first, it was alleged that they did it to celebrities and politicians, but it has recently come to light that they may have hacked the phone of Milly Dowler, a teen from Surrey who disappeared and was murdered in 2002. Milly Dowler's relatives were calling her phone and leaving voicemails during the period she was missing, and the reporters are accused of listening to and deleting these voicemails to make room for more, giving her parents false hope that she was still alive and checking her phone.
Graham Foulkes, whose son was killed in the 2005 terrorist bombings on the Underground, was also recently told by police that his phone number and address were found in a News of the World reporter's files, implying that his son's phone, too, may have been hacked.
Murdoch calls allegations against his paper 'deplorable'
London (CNN) -- Media baron Rupert Murdoch broke his silence on a scandal swirling around his flagship British Sunday tabloid newspaper Wednesday, calling allegations that journalists illegally hacked into the voice mails of murder and terror victims "deplorable and unacceptable."
The head of News Corporation issued the statement after the father of a bomb victim said his phone may have been hacked and Prime Minister David Cameron called the allegations "absolutely disgusting."
Graham Foulkes, whose son was killed in a 2005 London terror attack, said Wednesday his phone number and home address were found in the files of a private investigator working for the News of the World.
The accusation follows allegations that journalists also hacked into the phone messages of missing teenager Milly Dowler, who was later found to have been murdered.
Police launched a special investigation this year into accusations of widespread phonehacking by News of the World, targeting politicians and celebrities. Actor Hugh Grant told CNN Wednesday police had visited him as part of their investigation.
Now, following allegations this week that the paper also illegally eavesdropped on murder victims and the families of people killed in terrorist bombings, Cameron said an independent inquiry was needed.
"We are no longer talking about politicians and celebrities but murder victims, potentially terrorist victims. It's absolutely disgusting what has taken place," Cameron said in the House of Commons. "I think everyone in this house and country will be revolted by what they've heard and seen on their TV screens."
But Cameron said the inquiry could not begin until after the police investigation was done, for fear of interfering with it.
News International, which owns News of the World, said it welcomed "calls for a broad public inquiry into standards and practices in the industry."
Separately, London's Metropolitan Police said Wednesday they were opening an investigation into the possible bribery of police officers by people working for the News International media group.
Papers given to the Metropolitan Police by News International lawyers "include information relating to alleged inappropriate payments to a small number of... officers," Commissioner Paul Stephenson said in a statement Wednesday.
News International -- which owns News of the World and is part of Murdoch's $60 billion News Corporation -- confirmed it had given police paperwork related to the possible bribery, calling the handover evidence of its "determination as a company to deal responsibly and correctly with the issues."
The company also said Wednesday it was "shocked and appalled at any serious allegations with regards to victims of crime."
"Our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks' leadership," Murdoch said in his separate statement.
A senior police officer involved in the phonehacking investigation called Graham Foulkes Tuesday to say his details were in the files of a private investigator working for the News of the World, the terror victim's father said Wednesday.
Foulkes's son David was among the 52 people killed on July 7, 2005, when suicide bombers hit three London Underground trains and a bus.
Foulkes said police did not tell him whether his phone had been hacked, but the possibility horrified him, he said. London's Metropolitan Police refused to comment Wednesday on the issue.
"We'd obviously been having very intimate and detailed personal conversations, so to think now that these people may have been listening in to that at such an important time, such a dark and difficult time, is quite unbelievable," Foulkes said.
He and his wife had just been talking about "how horrendous it must have been" for the Dowler family "to be told that someone had been listening in to them," when he learned that he, too, might have been a victim of phonehacking, he told CNN affiliate ITV.
If the allegations of hacking are true, he said, the perpetrators "need to be punished, and punished severely."
He called on News International to be truthful and honest about what happened and "put their hands up and say we're sorry."
Labour party leader Ed Miliband said Brooks, the chief executive of News International, should resign in the face of what he called "the biggest press scandal in modern times."
Cameron refused to back the opposition leader in his call for head of Brooks, who was previously editor of News of the World, saying it would be fairer to let the investigation run its course.
Murdoch's statement suggests he is standing by Brooks.
Phonehacking involves calling a phone from two other phones at the same time, sending one caller to voice mail. That caller then enters the code number to retrieve voice mail remotely. Hackers depend on the fact that many people never change the default PIN for voice mail retrieval.
Initial complaints about hacking came from politicians and celebrities, but the story took a new turn Tuesday with the accusation that the paper hacked into the voice mails of the murdered girl.
"The family are completely horrified. They thought this was all over" after the disappearance of Milly Dowler in 2002 and the conviction of a man for her murder this year, Dowler family lawyer Mark Lewis said Tuesday.
But in April, police told the Dowlers that journalists had hacked into their phones and those of their daughter, he said.
Journalists deleted some of Milly Dowler's messages to make space for more, thus giving her parents hope she was still alive when she was dead, Lewis said.
The paper has apologized for hacking into the voice mails of celebrities and politicians, paying compensation to actress Sienna Miller and offering money to others.
But the Dowler case is the first time the newspaper is accused of interfering with a police investigation.
Police have declined to say publicly whether Milly Dowler was among the victims of phone hacking.
News International executives met with British police Tuesday over the claims, the company told CNN.
Brooks told staff later Tuesday that it was "almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way."
Brooks, who was editor of the paper at the time of the alleged Dowler hacking, told staff she was "sickened that these events are alleged to have happened."
CNN obtained a copy of the e-mail Brooks sent to staff on Tuesday. News International confirmed it was genuine.
Brooks acknowledges in the message that there is speculation she might resign, but said she was "determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues."
At least five people have been arrested in connection with phone hacking investigations this year since a new investigation, Operation Weeting, was launched in January.
Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and a journalist working for the News of the World were sent to prison in 2007 for hacking into the voice mails of royal staff in an earlier investigation.
Police launched the new investigation this year in response to widespread complaints from politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures who fear they have been targets.
News International has apologized for unspecified cases of phone hacking. They say they have been cooperating with police since the new investigation was launched in January.
The Sunday tabloid newspaper in April offered compensation and "apologized unreservedly" for the "unacceptable" hacking. It did not name the victims.
News International owns the News of the World, plus the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times in Britain.
Murdoch's media empire also encompasses Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Harper Collins publishers.
Cameron promises News of the World phone hack probeDavid Cameron has promised to set up a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World.
The UK prime minister said claims that the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked, with some messages deleted, were "disgusting".
But he said an inquiry must wait until police investigations were over - Labour says it should be set up sooner.
Meanwhile News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch said the allegations were "deplorable and unacceptable".
But he stood by News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World at the time, and has faced calls for her resignation.
Mr Murdoch, the head of News Corporation, the newspaper's parent company, said in a statement: "I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks' leadership."
He added that he was "committed to addressing these issues fully".
It is claimed that 13-year-old Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by an investigator working for the News of the World after she disappeared near her home in Surrey in 2002 .
This follows allegations that dozens of politicians and celebrities, including actor Hugh Grant and former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, were also targeted.
It emerged on Wednesday night that Chancellor George Osborne has been informed by police that his name and home phone number had been found in notes kept by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and the former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman. A spokesman for the chancellor said there was no suggestion his phone had been hacked.
Amid noisy scenes at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said: "We do need to have an inquiry, possibly inquiries, into what has happened.
"We are no longer talking here about politicians and celebrities. We are talking about murder victims, potentially terrorist victims, having their phones hacked into.
"It is absolutely disgusting, what has taken place, and I think everyone in this House and indeed this country will be revolted by what they have heard and what they have seen on their television screens."
But he added that an inquiry could not happen yet, as there was a "major police investigation under way".
Mr Miliband told MPs it was "possible for the prime minister to start the process now".
The Labour leader also questioned Mr Cameron's decision to hire another former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, as his director of communications after he resigned from the paper in 2007 over the phone hacking scandal, calling it a "catastrophic error of judgement".
Mr Coulson resigned in January saying claims about phone hacking were making it impossible to do his job.
Mr Miliband urged Mr Cameron to back his call for Mrs Brooks to resign from her current job as chief executive of News International - the UK arm of News Corporation.
But the prime minister said it was important to "let the police do their work" before making claims about the conduct of individuals.
The prime minister's spokeswoman told the BBC there could even be two inquiries into phone hacking - one into the police handling of the original investigation in the middle of the last decade, and one into the actions of the media.
Or, alternatively, there could be one all-encompassing inquiry, led by a judge.
MPs have also been holding an emergency debate on phone hacking.
Chris Bryant: "Frankly this is News International doing 'yeah but, no but, yeah but'"
Labour's Chris Bryant questioned the role of the Metropolitan Police during the earlier investigation into hacking, and the information officers had given ministers and others.
He said: "I think a lot of lies have been told to a lot of people. When police officers tell lies or, at best, half-truths to politicians... that's a major constitutional issue for us to face."
Fellow Labour MP Tom Watson called for News International chairman James Murdoch to resign, adding that he and Mrs Brooks had to "accept their culpability and they will have to face the full force of the law".
Attorney General Dominic Grieve said the government would do all it could to "progress matters further" regarding an inquiry.
But some MPs - including some Conservatives - also urged a "pause" in any decision on whether News Corporation should be able to take full ownership of BSkyB.
As revelations involving the News of the World continue to emerge, families of victims of the 7 July bombings in 2005 have complained that they may have had their phones hacked and police investigating the claims have contacted the parents of murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
On Tuesday News International passed e-mails to the police which appear to show that payments to police officers had been authorised by Mr Coulson when he was News of the World editor.
Mrs Brooks has said the claims of hacking Milly's phone are "almost too horrific to believe" and that it is "inconceivable" that she knew about them during her time in charge of the paper.