25 Jun 2014

PM must keep his promises: Milly Dowler’s sister

Gemma Dowler calls on the prime minister to keep the promises he made to her family that press regulation would be strengthened. Her teenage sister Milly’s phone was hacked after she disappeared.

In a video message, Gemma Dowler recalled a meeting with party leaders “three long years ago”, saying: “I have not forgotten the promises that were made to my family and all of the other victims of press intrusion.”

Ms Dowler noted that in giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry into press ethics: “many of the victims, including my parents, had to relive some terrible tragedies to give evidence about press intrusion. They did that in the expectation that the prime minister would make sure things changed, as he promised.”

Thirteen-year-old Milly Dowler disappeared on the way home from school in 2002. Her phone was hacked, causing messages to be deleted, which gave her family false hope that she might still be alive.

Giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry, Mr Cameron recalled his meeting at Downing Street with the Dowler family:”to hear what they had been through, and how it had redoubled, trebled, the pain and agony they’d been through over losing Milly, I’ll never forget that.

“That’s the test of all this – it’s not ‘do the politicians feel happy or the press feel happy at what we get?’, it’s ‘are we really protecting people who’ve been caught up and absolutely thrown to the wolves in this process’. That’s what the test is.”

See more video - Hacking victim Mark Oaten: 'they played the video - I actually did start crying'

Describing Ipso – the new regulator set up by the press – as “meaningless” and “just the newspapers looking after themselves again”, Ms Dowler said “this new fake regulator Ipso falls way short of Lord Justice Leveson’s regulations and is no way near good enough.”

“Please keep your promises to us the victims that you will deliver real and permanent change, to make sure what happened to us will never, ever happen again.


Ms Dowler referred to the relationship between top politicians and the press as “incestuous” and said that when it was discovered that Milly’s phone had been hacked, Tony Blair – prime minister at the time of her disappearance – did not phone the Dowler family.

However it was a different story for Rebekah Brooks: when he heard the police were investigating, “he phoned her to offer his support.”

Read more: Blair 'offered to be unofficial adviser' to Rebekah Brooks