Murdoch tabloid in fresh blow

Kasmira Jefford
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A PRIVATE detective working for News of the World hacked into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone while police were searching for her in March 2002, a lawyer for her family said yesterday.

Mark Lewis, solicitor at Taylor Hampton, said police had told the parents of Milly Dowler that Glenn Mulcaire illegally accessed and deleted their daughter’s voicemails – sparking false hope she might still be alive.

Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old Surrey schoolgirl, disappeared as she made her way home. Last month a former nightclub doorman Levi Bellfield was convicted of her murder.

Lewis said the Dowler family was pursuing a claim for damages against the paper, owned by News International, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

The allegations prompted Labour peer John Prescott to repeat calls for News Corp’s bid to buy the rest of BSkyB to be blocked as Murdoch is not a “fit and proper person” to own it.

But a source close to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said it would be virtually impossible for the government to block News Corps’s deal to buy the rest of BSkyB in light of the allegations.

The only thing Hunt can consider is whether the deal reduces media plurality in the UK, because that was what the probe – announced originally by business secretary Vince Cable – set out to determine.

But last night there were calls for News International’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks to resign, as she was News of the World’s editor in 2002.