News of the World
In 2002, 13-year-old Milly Dowler disappeared. In the hours that followed, her family left desperate messages on Milly’s cell phone begging her to get in touch. There was no response, and the family’s messages soon filled Milly’s voice mail.
Then something strange happened - the messages were deleted. This gave the family hope that Milly was still alive.
But the truth was: Milly hadn’t deleted the messages. She was dead, murdered by Levi Bellfield.
It now turns out that it was a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, employed by Rupert Murdoch’s paper the News of the World, who had allegedly hacked into the ‘phone and deleted the messages. As the Guardian reported on Monday:
Scotland Yard is now investigating evidence that the paper hacked directly into the voicemail of the missing girl’s own phone. As her friends and parents called and left messages imploring Milly to get in touch with them, the News of the World was listening and recording their every private word.
News International’s Chief Executive, Rebekah Brooks was the paper’s editor at the time. In an email to staff Brooks claimed she was “appalled and shocked” by the allegations, and thought it “inconceivable that [she] knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
Of course, this is what Brooks has to say, until there is evidence to the contrary.
Even if that evidence is forthcoming, it is unlikely that Brooks would have sanctioned such actions on her own, which opens up the whole of Rupert Murdoch’s News International for very serious and critical examination.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron has described the allegations as “a truly dreadful act”
And demanded that the police:
“...pursue this in the most vigorous way that they can in order to get to the truth of what happened.
“I think that is the absolute priority as a police investigation.”
Which may bring interesting results, as another former editor of the News of the World tainted with phone-hacking allegations is Andy Coulson, who was appointed by Cameron as his Director of Communications - a position Coulson eventually quit because coverage of the phone-hacking affair.
For those wondering what they can do to ensure these allegations against the News of the World, and other papers, are investigated vigorously, then Roy Greenslade has some pointers in his Guardian blog:
1. Boycott the paper. Treat it just as the people of Merseyside did when The Sun ran its infamous Hillsborough story in 1989 following the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters.
2. Pressure advertisers and media buyers not to buy space in the News of the World and to withdraw ads they’ve already booked.
3. Back the call for an independent public inquiry into the whole hacking affair. It will be officially launched tomorrow at a meeting in the Lords.
4. Demand to know who has been, and is, paying the legal expenses of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed for intercepting voicemail messages on behalf of the News of the World.
5. Ask the PCC if it has inquired of News Int whether it, or any of its associated companies, has been responsible for paying the legal fees of a convicted man? If it has not, why not? And is it therefore time that it did so?
Crucially, the ‘phone hacking allegations come just as Murdoch has succeeded in gaining regulatory permission for a 100% takeover bid for the British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the UK’s largest pay-TV broadcaster, with over 10 million subscribers.
avaaz.org are currently organizing a campaign to stop Murdoch’s media take-over:
We have just three days to flood the government’s public consultation with requests to stop the deal.
We’ve done it before—in the last consultation Hunt said our avalanche of 40,000 messages delayed the deal as his officials had to read each email carefully, fearing a legal challenge. But the government is pushing the deal through despite the hacking scandal of murdered Milly Dowler—the latest grim episode that shows how Murdoch’s media tramples standards and ignores ethics.
Murdoch already controls more of our media than is legal in many countries – and is notorious for using his power to skew our politics. The official consultation ends this Friday—let’s tell the government we don’t want his media empire to control our largest commercial broadcaster. Send a message now—using your own words to make it stand out—calling on Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron to refuse Murdoch’s BSkyB deal until there’s a full Competition Commission review and a full public inquiry into phone hacking.
You can add your name to the petition here.