UK hacking scandal: Mother describes pain

UK hacking scandal: Mother describes pain

Milly Dowler, 13, was missing for several days before it was revealed that she had been murdered in 2002.

During this time, her phone was allegedly hacked at the behest of the now defunct News of the World for information to be used in news stories about the case which was being widely covered in the news media.

Unknown to the family, when the phone was hacked and earlier messages left in the voicemail were deleted to make way for new ones that were supposed to be later accessed by the private investigator, her mother Sally Dowler said the deletion of messages gave hope to the family that Milly was alive.

Sally told the Leveson inquiry into the phone hacking scandal that she did not sleep for three days after discovering her daughter's phone was hacked.

Describing the moment she accessed the previously-full voicemail, she said: "I just jumped and said: 'She's picked up her voicemails... she's alive'".

The Justice Leveson inquiry is going into the media's culture, practices and ethics.

It was set up after revelation that Milly's phone had been hacked snowballed into a major crisis for British politics, press and the police.

Scotland Yard is conducting an investigation in parallel, while the Leveson inquiry is hearing depositions from journalists and victims of phone hacking, including celebrities such as Hugh Grant and J K Rowling.

Rupert Murdoch had earlier apologised to the Dowler family for the phone-hacking, and had paid compensation.

Sally Dowler and her husband Bob told the inquiry that they had phoned the teenager's phone repeatedly in the weeks after she went missing, but the voicemail had become full.

Sally said when she could access it again after the detective working for the News of the World (NOTW) had hacked the phone number and deleted some messages, "I told my friends, 'she's picked up her voicemail, she's picked up her voicemail'.

Sally said: "As soon as I was told it was about phone hacking, literally I didn't sleep for about three nights because you replay everything in your mind and just think, 'oh, that makes sense now, that makes sense'".

Bob said: "We would sincerely hope that News International and other media organisations would look very carefully how they procure, how they obtain information about stories.

"Obviously, the ramifications are far greater than what appears in the press".

Meanwhile, Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, testifying to UK's phone-hacking inquiry has accused several newspapers other than those owned by Rupert Murdoch of invading his privacy.

The star also believed that a break-in at his flat may have been linked to the press after details of the interior appeared in a newspaper, reports said.

The star of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Notting Hill" also said the Mail on Sunday newspaper ran a story on his relationship with Jemima Khan in 2007 that mentioned his conversations with a "plummy voiced" woman.