Published on 5 Jul 2011 Sections ,

Police contacted Soham victims’ families over phone hacking

The parents of murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were contacted by detectives investigating allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World, it has emerged.

Holly and Jessica Chapman

Police contacted the parents of Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman over allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World, it has emerged.

A police source said relatives of the ten-year-olds, who were murdered by former school caretaker Ian Huntley in 2002, were visited by Scotland Yard officers several months ago.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said: “Both families have been contacted by officers from the Metropolitan Police and are assisting with them with their inquiries.”

Allegations of hacking in the Soham case were first aired by Labour MP Tom Watson, but a statement is the first time it has been confirmed that the phone hacking inquiry, Operation Weeting, is also looking at the Soham case.

The revelation follows the news that Milly Dowler’s parents were told by police in April that their daughter’s phone may have been hacked by the News of the World in the days after she went missing in 2002.

Ford pulls out of ad deals

Car giant Ford was the first company to confirm it is pulling out its advertising deals with the News of the World following claims that a private investigator working for the tabloid hacked into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone after she went missing.

A spokesman said: “Ford is a company which cares about the standards of behaviour of its own people and those it deals with externally. We are awaiting an outcome from the News of the World investigation and expect a speedy and decisive response.

Pending this response we will be using alternative media within and outside News International Group instead of placing Ford advertising in the News of the World. Ford spokesman

“Pending this response we will be using alternative media within and outside News International Group instead of placing Ford advertising in the News of the World.”

Other companies also said they were considering pulling their advertising from the newspaper.

An Npower spokesman said: “We are currently reviewing our options” and a Halifax spokesman said: “We are considering our options.”

Calls for public inquiry

MPs will have an emergency debate on Wednesday on whether to hold a public inquiry into the phone hacking scandal.

Earlier in the Commons Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the alleged hacking of Milly’s phone was “grotesque” and “beneath contempt” but appeared to reject calls for a public inquiry.

Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks, the newspaper’s former editor, has issued a memo to staff at News International saying she was “appalled and shocked” by the latest phone hacking allegations.

She said it was “inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has described the allegations as “truly dreadful” while Labour leader Ed Miliband called for Rebekah Brooks to “consider her position” and “consider her conscience”.

But Ms Brooks dismissed speculation about her position, saying: “I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues.”

She said the first priority must be to establish the full facts behind the claims, and that she had written to Mr and Mrs Dowler to assure them “News International will vigorously pursue the truth”.

“If the allegations are proved to be true then I can promise the strongest possible action will be taken as this company will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour.” Rebekah Brooks

She added: “It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way.”

“If the allegations are proved to be true then I can promise the strongest possible action will be taken as this company will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour.”

Meanwhile, the private investigator who hacked into phones on behalf of the News of the World, Glenn Mulcaire, has apologised for his actions. Mr Mulcaire issued a statement saying: “I want to apologise to anybody who was hurt or upset by what I have done.”

Dowlers launch lawsuit

Bob and Sally Dowler are now suing the News of the World, saying they had been given “false hope” that their daughter could still be alive after voicemail messages on the phone were deleted in the days after she vanished.

Their solicitor Mark Lewis said the “heinous” and “despicable” actions could have jeopardised the police investigation.

Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire is alleged to have illegally accessed Milly’s phone messages after she was abducted by Levi Bellfield as she walked home from school in Walton-on-Thames.

Mr Lewis said the Dowlers had been told their own phones were targeted, as well as that of their daughter.