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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Time for action on media transgressions

As I blog daily and given my interest in civil liberty and privacy issues, it would be strange if I did not comment on this morning's Guardian news item that the News of the World hacked into Milly Dowler's voicemail after she went missing.

The paper says that the News of the World illegally targeted the missing schoolgirl and her family in March 2002, interfering with police inquiries into her disappearance. They add that Scotland Yard is investigating the episode, which is likely to put new pressure on the then editor of the paper, Rebekah Brooks, now Rupert Murdoch's chief executive in the UK; and the then deputy editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned in January as the prime minister's media adviser;

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.

This is a new low even for the News of the World. I would expect the Police to take the appropriate action but surely it is now time for the Government to step in to strengthen legislation and safeguards against this sort of activity.
There is a lot of concern out there. Andy Myles has started a petition.

I hope you might support and publicise it.


Now is the time for a public inquiry.
But one should heed the warnings by Alan Beith and Ming Campbell that the police inquiry should not be impeded and that guilty people should not escape.
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