The News of the World illegally targeted the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and her family in March 2002, interfering with police inquiries into her disappearance, an investigation by the Guardian has established.
The Guardian’s investigation reveals that:
In the last four weeks the Met officers have approached Surrey police and taken formal statements from some of those involved in the original inquiry, who were concerned about how News of the World journalists intercepted – and deleted – the voicemail messages of Milly Dowler.
The messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance in order to free up space for more messages. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive. Police feared evidence may have been destroyed.
And perhaps most heartbreaking of all:
The Dowler family then granted an exclusive interview to the News of the World in which they talked about their hope, quite unaware that it had been falsely kindled by the newspaper’s own intervention. Sally Dowler told the paper: “If Milly walked through the door, I don’t think we’d be able to speak. We’d just weep tears of joy and give her a great big hug.”
Over the last few months, more and more details about the shameful tactics of journalists working for the News of the World have been revealed, but none have been quite as disgraceful as this.
To run a hysterical campaign against paedophiles in a desperate bid to sell newspapers, whilst simultaneously impeding the investigation into a child’s abduction, and not to mention giving false hope to a distraught and panicked family, puts all of the people involved in this whole sordid affair well and truly beyond the boundaries of normal contempt.
How’s the rest of the press covering the story
The news of the Guardian’s investigation has already made the front page of the BBC News website and, needless to say, of course, the Guardian’s. It’s even made it to the Sky News website, although it’s not their top story.
The Daily Telegraph and The Independent are currently leading with the story on their websites too. The Daily Mail and even the Daily Express are covering it, although not nearly as prominently as the BBC, Sky, the Telegraph or The Independent. And as Tabloid Watch has just pointed out, the Mail’s story appears below a story about Christine Bleakley’s tan.
Should I really be surprised that The Sun, the News of the World’s sister paper, haven’t picked this up at all?
The story will make the front pages of tomorrow’s i, Independent, Financial Times, Guardian (obviously), Daily Telegraph and The Times:
Nothing from the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Star, the Daily Mirror or The Sun. It’s interesting to note that all the newspapers that failed to mention the story on their front pages were tabloids…
(Thanks to @suttonnick for the front pages.)