LONDON (AP) — Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday tabloid was an institutionally corrupt British newspaper whose phone hacking victims may have included the parents of a teenage murder victim, a lawyer for the victims said Wednesday.
David Sherborne gave details about phone hacking victims at a judge-led inquiry into U.K. media ethics set up after the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World. Murdoch shut down the tabloid last summer after the worst allegations surfaced.
As Sherborne ran through the names, he told the inquiry that the now-defunct tabloid’s very foundations “were built on manifestly unholy and indefensible ground.”
He said the paper had eavesdropped on rival journalists’ phones in the quest for scoops and may even have intercepted the voicemails of the parents of murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler. The revelation earlier this year that the tabloid had hacked into 13-year-old Milly’s voice mails when she was missing but before her body was found proved the tipping point in the phone hacking scandal.
Many people in Britain shrugged off long-standing allegations that the tabloid had been spying on celebrities, sports stars and politicians. But the news that it had could have interfered with a police investigation into a missing girl revolted Britons and spawned an advertising boycott that forced the paper’s closure.
U.K. police have said the number of potential hacking victims could hit 6,000, or even more.
Sherborne said Wednesday the tabloid might have spied on Dowler’s anguished parents as well.
He said a News of the World photographer managed to capture the parents’ walk where Dowler took her last journey. Somehow, Sherborne said, journalists knew exactly what time the walk was due to take place and where the parents were going.
“Their moment of grief was a photo opportunity too good to resist,” Sherborne said. “Their voicemails, they suspect, theirs of course, not Milly’s, were being listened to.
“High profile or not, there is no excuse for this kind of newsgathering.”
He also mentioned a range of other hacking victims — including an intelligence officer, the unnamed partner of a celebrity and actors including actors Jude Law and Sienna Miller.
Sherborne, who represents 51 alleged victims of press intrusion, was speaking to the Leveson inquiry, a judge-led investigation into U.K. media ethics.
Leveson Inquiry: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.