Rupert Murdoch’s media group News International on Tuesday offered an unprecedented £3 million pay-off to the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl, whose phone was hacked by the News of the World sparking nationwide outrage and resulting in the closure of the 160-year-old tabloid.
It is believed to be the highest compensation yet paid to any of the phone-hacking victims who include high-profile celebrities such as actor Sienna Miller who received £100,000.
In a statement, the News International said that it was “in advanced negotiations” with Milly’s parents Bob and Sally Dowler. While they will be paid £2 million by the company, Mr. Murdoch will make a personal donation of £1 million to the Dowlers’ preferred charity.
“No final agreement has yet been reached, but we hope to conclude the discussions as quickly as possible,” the statement said.
The Times, also published by News International, said the settlement which follows a personal apology by Mr. Murdoch to the Dowler family was likely to result in “dozens of other alleged victims raising their demands for compensation.”
A source at News International was reported as saying that there were “exceptional circumstances” in the Dowlers’ case because they had been victims of a crime and their plight drew enormous public sympathy.
Mark Stephens, a leading media and rights lawyer, described the offer as a “proper mark of contrition” that should be welcomed.