Media

Outrage: Tabloid Hacked Into Murdered Girl's Phone, Hindered Police

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

How's this for disgusting, despicable behavior?

Companies like Ford are pulling their ads from British tabloid News of the World after it was revealed its reporters hacked into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail and hindered police's attempts to find her.

News of the World's reporters not only listened in on Milly's messages - they also deleted messages to make room for new ones, giving Milly's family false hope that Milly was still alive and checking her messages. Now it's believed that the families of two other missing girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, also had their phones hacked by News of the World.

Milly was 13 when she went missing in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, while walking home from school in March 2002. Her body was discovered in Hampshire in September 2002. Levi Bellfield was convicted of her murder in 2010 and received a life sentence.

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were murdered in Soham, Cambridgeshire, in August 2002. School caretaker Ian Huntley is currently serving 40 years in prison for the murders.

Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by News of the World, authorized the phone hackings, and has since apologized for his actions. He said he was under "relentless pressure" at the tabloid and that he faced a "constant demand for results... I want to apologize to anybody who was hurt or upset by what I have done."

British Prime Minister David Cameron blasted News of the World for the hackings, but stopped short of directly accusing the paper, since the investigation is still ongoing. He said that if the hacking report is true, it is a "truly dreadful act."

Ford and other large companies, such as British giants Npower, Halifax and Tesco, have withdrawn or are considering withdrawing their ads from the tabloid.

Rebekah Brooks, who is now the head of News of the World's parent company News International, was the editor of News of the World at the time of the phone hackings. There is now pressure on her to resign. Even though she and Prime Minister David Cameron are close friends, his condemnation of the phone hacking speaks volumes. Mark Lewis, the Dowler family's lawyer, said "We will have to wait and see whether she decides to do the honorable thing." 

Brooks said she was "appalled and shocked" by the news of the phone hackings. She said she has written to the Dowling family and told them she will "lead the [News of the World] to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues."