- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Britain’s simmering phone hacking scandal erupted again Thursday as a charity founded by the mother of a murdered child said she was targeted by a detective who worked for the News of the World.

The charity, Phoenix Chief Advocates, said Glenn Mulcaire, a detective employed by the now-defunct tabloid, had the details of Sara Payne in his notes.

Payne is the mother of 8-year-old Sarah Payne, whose murder by a pedophile in 2000 shocked Britain and was heavily covered by the News of the World.

The charity said in a statement that police had previously said Sara Payne’s name was not on a list held by Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 for hacking into the voice mail messages of royal staff. But it said “it has now been confirmed by (police) that Sara’s details are on his list.”

Sara is absolutely devastated by this news, we’re all deeply disappointed and are just working to get her through it,” it said.

It was unclear whether Mulcaire had merely obtained Payne’s number or whether he or anyone else had tried to eavesdrop on her voice mails.

The ongoing scandal over illegal eavesdropping prompted the closure of the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid and shaken Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire.

The News of the World was heavily involved in campaigning for a measure, dubbed “Sarah’s Law” after the murdered girl, to give the public access to information about convicted sex offenders. It set up a petition that drew hundreds of thousands of signatures.

The Colchester, England-based charity advocates for victims of pedophile crimes.

The news came as a senior judge opened an inquiry into the scandal that will start by looking at whether the country needs tougher media regulation, and will have the power to force witnesses to give evidence.

Justice Brian Leveson said he has the legal power to demand statements and documents from witnesses _ and plans to use it “as soon as possible.”

Leveson’s inquiry was announced earlier this month by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Leveson’s seven-member panel includes a veteran newspaper reporter, a former police chief, a civil liberties activist and a broadcast journalist. They held their first formal meeting Thursday and will begin public hearings in September.

The panel is due to issue a report within a year. Leveson said he would strive to meet that deadline, but “not at all costs.”

A second part of the inquiry will examine specific allegations of wrongdoing at News of the World, but can’t start until the criminal investigation by police is finished _ which could be years away.

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