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Parents of missing Madeleine tell of media pursuit
The inquiry, led by Judge Brian Leveson, plans to issue a report next year and could recommend major changes to media regulation in Britain.
The hearings have heard allegations of media malpractice and intrusion that extend far beyond the News of the World, which has admitted illegally accessing the mobile phone voice mails of celebrities, politicians and crime victims and was shut down by owner Rupert Murdoch in July.
On Thursday the inquiry will hear from actress Sienna Miller, who won damages for phone hacking from the News of the World, and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, one of Britain’s richest people, who has fought to keep her children out of the media glare.
A lawyer for several phone hacking victims told the inquiry Wednesday that illegal eavesdropping was not limited to the News of the World.
“It was a much more widespread practice than just one newspaper,” said Mark Lewis, whose clients include the family of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler, whose voice mails were accessed by the News of the World after she disappeared in 2002.
Milly Dowler’s parents spoke Monday before the inquiry, saying the hacking gave them false hope their daughter was still alive during the investigation into her disappearance.
Lewis claimed that listening in on voice mails was so easy that many journalists regarded it as no more serious than “driving at 35 mph in a 30 mph zone.”
He said the News of the World got caught because it hired a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who kept detailed records of his snooping assignments. Mulcaire and News of the World reporter Clive Goodman were jailed in 2007 for hacking into the voice mails of royal aides.
“The fact that evidence doesn’t exist in written form doesn’t mean to say that the crime didn’t happen,” Lewis said.
More than a dozen News of the World journalists and editors have been arrested over allegations of illegal eavesdropping, and two top London police officers also lost their jobs, along with Cameron’s media adviser.
Several senior Murdoch executives have resigned in the still-evolving scandal, which has fueled calls for the mogul’s son James Murdoch to step down as head of the international branch of his father’s News Corp.
On Wednesday the company confirmed that James Murdoch had resigned in September as a director of the companies that publish The Sun and The Times of London newspapers, although he remains chairman of News International, the British arm of News Corp.
Leveson Inquiry: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/
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