A private eye working for U.K. tabloid News of the World is accused of interfering with a police investigation and giving a murder victim's family false hope by breaking into the teen victim's cell phone and deleting voice mail messages nine years ago, according to The Guardian.
Scotland Yard is investigating the case, which involves the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, whose body was discovered in September 2002, six months after she disappeared on her way home from school. Detectives allegedly found evidence of the account tampering of the Dowler phone among 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who was jailed for phone hacking on behalf of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, The Guardian reports.
"The messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly's disappearance in order to free up space for more messages. As a result, friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive," the newspaper reports. "Police feared evidence may have been destroyed."
Meanwhile, the families of two other child murder victims--10-year-old Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, killed in 2002--and a "handful" of the 52 families who lost loved ones in the 2005 London bombings were also notified by Scotland Yard that their mobile phone numbers may have been intercepted on behalf of representatives for News of the World, The Telegraph reported today.
Ford has said it will suspend advertising in the newspaper and npower and Halifax were considering doing the same, while representatives from the British government were considering whether to hold a public inquiry into the matter, according to The Telegraph.
The News of the World has been in trouble for phone hacking previously, but the targets reportedly were the royal family, politicians, and celebrities, including actress Sienna Miller, who won a civil case against the newspaper.
Updated 4:45 p.m. PT with report that other victims' families are being notified that their phones may also have been hacked.