Shocking new details about the News of the World's hacking of Milly Dowler's phone have emerged, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The revelation that the tabloid hacked the phone of the 13-year old murder victim sparked the phone hacking scandal that now threatens News Corp. The Guardian broke the story in July, charging that the tabloid had hacked her phone for story tips and deleted messages in order to make room for new ones. The crux of the story was a News of the World article that contained a passing reference to the voicemails.
The Journal reported on Saturday that the tabloid published more of Dowler's voice mail messages than police, lawmakers and the public previously believed. Two earlier versions of the final article have been discovered to contain detailed quotes from Dowler's voicemails.
The articles are especially damning because the News of the World did not always quote directly from voicemails in articles suspected of using hacked messages. The WSJ reports, "When the paper hacked the phones of royal-family aides, for instance, two resulting stories didn't mention voice mails—the reporter simply stated as fact the information gleaned from the messages." The two reporters to whom the first and final versions of the articles are attributed have both told the Wall Street Journal that they do not recall writing the stories.
The new information provides a deeper look at the News of the World's near obsession with the Milly Dowler case and the lengths its reporters were willing to go in order to get the story. The Journal reports that after hearing another voice message that suggested Dowler had run away and was working at an Epson factory, former news editor Neville Thurlbeck sent reporters to stake out the factory. The mission enlisted eight reporters monitoring the factory's exits over the course of three days. One journalist on the stakeout told the Journal that the tabloid's hope was that, "When Milly Dowler clocked off work, we would be there outside the gates."
News Corp. has since admitted that the News of the World targeted Milly Dowler's phone. The company has identified the person who ordered private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to intercept Dowler's messages, but has not yet released the name to the public.
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