Rupert Murdoch's media company News International was in turmoil on Tuesday with its United Kingdom chief executive Rebekah Brooks facing calls to resign or be sacked following fresh revelations in the long-running phone-hacking scandal surrounding its tabloid newspaper, the News of the World (NoW), relating to the period when she was its editor.
The News International, whose other titles include The Times and The Sun, has already paid millions of pounds in compensation to a number of celebrity victims of previous incidents of hacking by NoW.
It is alleged that a private investigator hired by NoW illegally hacked into the phone of a missing teenaged girl, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered. The information gathered from her voicemail messages in the days after she vanished while on her way home from school on March 21, 2002 was used by NoW to run stories.
The disclosure was made by The Guardian on Tuesday. In a front-page report, it said: “The Guardian investigation has shown that, within a very short time of Milly vanishing, News of the World journalists reacted by engaging in what was standard practice in their newsroom: they hired private investigators to get them a story.”
Ms. Brooks, facing calls for her resignation, denied knowledge of the incident. In a statement, promising the “strongest possible action” if the allegations were found to be true, she said: “I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew - or worse - sanctioned these appalling allegations.”