British PM Calls for Inquiries into Newspaper Phone Hacking Scandal

Posted July 6th, 2011 at 5:00 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for independent inquiries into new allegations that British tabloid newspaper News of the World hacked into the phones of multiple murder victims in recent years.

British media said Wednesday police suspect the newspaper intercepted voicemails sent to the phones of several schoolgirls murdered in 2002 and the phones of victims of the London transport bombings of July 7, 2005. The reports say investigators also believe News of the World staff may have bribed police officers for information about those victims.

In remarks to the British parliament, Mr. Cameron described the revelations about News of the World as “absolutely disgusting.” He said there is a need for “independent ” and “public” inquiries into the behavior of individuals and media organizations and the failure of police to uncover the latest allegations in earlier investigations.

Mr. Cameron said the inquiries cannot begin until police finish investigating the allegations. But he said it “may be possible” to start preparing for the inquiries earlier.

The scandal erupted earlier this week when British media said News of the World is under investigation for hacking into the phone of a 13-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in 2002. British media later reported that police also suspect the newspaper hacked into the phones of two other schoolgirls murdered that year.

The newspaper's publisher, News International, says that if the latest allegations turn out to be true, it will take action against those responsible. News International is owned by Australian-American tycoon Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

British opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labor party told parliament that News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks should consider resigning over the scandal.

Murdoch issued a statement Wednesday saying the alleged phone hacking incidents are “deplorable and unacceptable.” He said News International will “fully and proactively cooperate” with police investigators under Brooks' leadership.

The father of one of the 52 people killed in the 2005 London bombings said police told him that his name was on a list of other potential phone hacking victims. Graham Foulkes said his son David's whereabouts were unknown for several days after the attack and family members left messages on David's phone in a frantic effort to reach him.

Foulkes said he was “horrified” to learn that News of World may have eavesdropped on those messages.

The tabloid has faced accusations of phone hacking for several years. A News of the World editor and a private investigator hired by the newspaper were jailed in 2007 for intercepting the mobile phone messages of British royal officials.

British Internet activists outraged by the scandal have called for a boycott of News of the World. Several companies withdrew ads that were due to appear in the next edition of the newspaper, including car makers Ford, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi Motors, British bank Halifax and travel company Virgin Holidays.