Reporters are said to have hacked into the 13-year-old Milly Dowler’s voicemail when she went missing – and to have deleted some messages to make room for more to arrive.
This could have interfered with the police investigation and raised false hopes that Milly was still alive and using the phone, the Dowlers’ lawyer said. Milly’s parents Bob and Sally Dowler condemned the News of the World as ‘heinous’ and ‘despicable’,

The claims, made by The Guardian, were based on notes kept by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was employed by the News of the World. It was alleged Mr. Mulcaire checked Milly’s voicemail for the newspaper in the days after her abduction from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002.

The Dowlers’ lawyer, Mark Lewis, added: ‘It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn the News of the World had no humanity at such a terrible time. The fact they were prepared to act in such a heinous way that could have jeopardised the investigation and give them false hope is despicable.’

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: ‘Everyone across the country will be deeply disturbed and horrified at this shocking news.’ Scotland Yard, which is leading the ongoing hacking inquiry, declined to comment.

Until now the phone hacking saga has all been about celebrity tittle tattle but this breaks new ground. It shows just how much the NOTW lost their way when they could potentially interfere with the investigation of the disappearance of a 13 year old girl just to sell newspapers. Just how low can they stoop?