Murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s sister has slammed the “incestuous” relationship between Britain’s top politicians and the press as she spoke out in the wake of the first verdicts in the phone hacking trial.
Gemma Dowler, whose younger sister’s phone was hacked after she disappeared in 2002, said she wanted to make sure “something good” came out of the scandal and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to make good on promises he made to her family over press regulation.
Dowler’s comments were made in a video released following the conviction of former Downing Street spin doctor Andy Coulson for plotting to hack phones.
Revelations that the News of the World had hacked missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone in spring 2002 sparked public outrage and contributed to the tabloid’s downfall.
The eight-month phone hacking trial heard how former NotW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck tasked private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to hack Milly’s phone in spring 2002.
Former NoTW editor Rebekah Brooks, who was cleared of hacking charges by the same jury yesterday, was in charge of the paper in 2002 but was on holiday in Dubai at the time Milly’s phone was hacked, leaving Coulson at the helm.
Following Tuesday’s verdicts, Dowler called for Cameron and other party leaders to implement proposals made following the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
She said her family had stayed silent during the court case to make sure the defendants got a fair trial.
“But now that it’s over, I want to speak out about what I think should happen next to make sure that something good comes out of these terrible events,” she said.
She branded Ipso, the new press watchdog backed by most of the industry, as “meaningless”, adding: “This is just the newspapers looking after themselves.
“Something needs to be done to make sure what happened to my family doesn’t happen again.”
She went on: “But there are other, equally worrying problems.
“Most important and damaging of all is the incestuous relationship between our top politicians and the press.
“For example Tony Blair, the prime minister when Milly disappeared, didn’t phone us when he heard that Milly’s phone had been hacked.
“But when he heard that the police were investigating Rebekah Brooks, he phoned her to offer his support.
“Three long years have passed since my meeting with David Cameron and the other party leaders.”
Quoting Mr Cameron’s comments made at the Leveson Inquiry – in which he said he would “never forget” meeting the Dowlers at Downing Street – she said: “Many of the victims, including my parents, had to relive some terrible tragedies when they gave evidence about press abuse.
“They did that in the hope and expectation that the Prime Minister would make sure things changed as he promised.
“Having gone to the expense of holding this inquiry, surely all the party leaders should now keep their promises and implement Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals.”