Last July Rebekah Brooks told her assembled staff that "worse revelations are yet to come and you will understand in a year why we closed News Of The World". We haven't had to wait a year and the evidence from the Surrey Police published today by our House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee lays bare the scandal of phone hacking at the paper during the Milly Dowler case.
This chilling document details that the News Of The World hacked Milly's phone by getting her "mobile phone number and PIN from school children" and that the police received complaints from potential witnesses that News Of The World reporters were 'harassing' them.
The Surrey Police also clarify that the News Of The World ran a story including messages hacked from Milly Dowler's phone without their consent and only changed the content when they were asked to do so. Given these events took place in 2002, it is yet more evidence to suggest that phone hacking was widespread at the paper and involved more than a single rogue journalist.
Of all of the documents and evidence that have been produced by our phone hacking inquiry, this is the most sickening and exposes the black hearts of those involved in perpetrating and covering up this scandal.
When Rebekah Brooks gave evidence to our committee in July 2011 I asked her whether she was aware that the News Of The World had passed messages hacked from Milly Dowler's phone to the Surrey Police. She said that she had only become aware of the allegation that Milly's phone had been hacked two weeks previously, and had no knowledge of information having passed on to the Surrey Police in 2002.
As I said to Rebekah Brooks at the time, I think it is incredible that that could have happened without the knowledge of senior people on the paper. It is one thing for someone to obtain illegally sourced information for a story and conceal that fact from the editor, but surely another to decide to pass that information to the police without telling anyone. It is also clear that there was a dialogue between the police and the News Of The World on the night of Saturday 13 April 2002 about changing the story that first ran, which led to them removing quotations of messages hacked from Milly's phone from the later editions of the paper.
When the former News International Head of Legal Affairs, Tom Crone gave evidence to the committee in September 2011, he suggested that the quotations from Milly Dowler's voice mails that appeared in an article in the News Of The World in 2002, could have been supplied by the police; we know now that they were hacked by the newspaper and used without the consent of the police. Tom Crone also confirmed when I asked whether, if illegally obtained messages hacked from someone's phone had been obtained by the paper, rather than from the police, they would routinely have been run past the in house legal team before publication. He confirmed that: "that would be right. That is why I assume that it came from the police."
In both these cases the evidence published from the Surrey Police today poses serious questions about who knew what at the News Of The World; and whilst the names of individuals involved have not been disclosed to us that will form part of the ongoing police investigation. I hope that sooner rather than later, justice will be done.
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