UK

Murdoch confirms Dowlers to receive £2m over hacking

Milly Dowler
Image caption Earlier this year, doorman Levi Bellfield was convicted of Milly's murder

Rupert Murdoch has confirmed the family of murder victim Milly Dowler will receive a £2m settlement over the hacking of her phone's voicemail.

It emerged in June someone working for the News of the World accessed Milly's messages after she disappeared in 2002.

The £2m payout is believed to be the biggest so far to NoW hacking victims.

News Corp chairman Mr Murdoch said he would also give £1m to charities chosen by the Dowlers, to underscore his regret at the "abhorrent" behaviour.

The Dowler family said the £1m donation was "a fitting tribute" to Milly.

The Dowlers have said they will share Mr Murdoch's donation between the Shooting Star Chase, Child Victims of Crime, Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Hampton Pool Trust, Braintumouruk.org and Cancer Research.

In a joint statement with News International - the News Corp subsidiary that owned the now-closed News of the World - the family said: "Nothing that has been agreed will ever bring back Milly or undo the traumas of her disappearance and the horrendous murder trial earlier this year.

"The only way that a fitting tribute could be agreed was to ensure that a very substantial donation to charity was made in Milly's memory."

The family said they hoped the charities would undertake projects that would mean some good would come from their tragedy.

Mr Murdoch said he hoped his donation underscored his regret for his company's involvement. "I also hope that through the personal donation something positive can be done in memory of their daughter."

The News Corp chairman met the family in July to personally apologise to them following revelations that not only had Milly Dowler's phone been hacked, but a private investigator deleted her messages, giving the family false hope that she was still alive.

'Tragedy upon tragedy'

The Dowlers' lawyer, Mark Lewis, told the BBC News Channel that the settlement figures had been agreed "some weeks ago" after negotiations between the two parties.

Mr Lewis said the Dowlers had faced "tragedy upon tragedy heaped upon tragedy" and had found out about the hacking during the trial of Milly's murderer.

"Nothing would replace the loss of a daughter for them, it's a way of perhaps moving on after the ordeals that they've been through," he said.

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Media captionMark Lewis, the lawyer representing the Dowlers, said the phone hacking scandal had been very costly for News International

Mr Lewis said revelations that Milly's phone had been hacked meant put the practice back under the spotlight and News of the World could no longer pretend the phone-hacking was the work of just one rogue reporter.

"All of a sudden the lie could not be told anymore because Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked."

Previous settlements made by News Corp include a reported £700,000 for Gordon Taylor of the Football Association and £100,000 in damages plus costs to actress Sienna Miller.

Police knew of hacking

On Thursday it emerged that Surrey Police had known in 2002 that the NoW had accessed Milly's voicemail.

In a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Chief Constable Mark Rowley said the NoW had made a call to the force in April 2002 that made it apparent her phone had been accessed.

Mr Rowley said the priority at the time was to find the missing girl.

Meanwhile, the police watchdog - the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) - is investigating a claim that an officer on the Milly Dowler murder case gave information to the NoW.

Milly disappeared from Walton-on-Thames, on 21 March 2002. Her remains were later found in woods in Yateley Heath, Hampshire.

Former nightclub doorman Levi Bellfield was convicted earlier this year of her abduction and murder.

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