Well, if you thought Rupert Murdoch’s troubles were fading, guess again. In another chapter with a major helping of the “ick” factor, the Guardian is reporting that News of the World, Murdoch’s now defunct tabloid, hacked into the cell phone of Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter, Sarah, was abducted and murdered in 2000. To make things worse, the phone was given to Ms. Payne by Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch’s former head of News Corp’s UK operations.
From the Guardian:
Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was abducted and murdered in July 2000, has been told by Scotland Yard that they have found evidence to suggest she was targeted by the News of the World‘s investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who specialised in hacking voicemail.
Police had earlier told her correctly that her name was not among those recorded in Mulcaire’s notes, but on Tuesday officers from Operation Weeting told her they had found her personal details among the investigator’s notes. These had previously been thought to refer to a different target.
Friends of Payne have told the Guardian that she is “absolutely devastated and deeply disappointed” at the disclosure. Her cause had been championed by the News of the World, and in particular by its former editor, Rebekah Brooks. Believing that she had not been a target for hacking, Payne wrote a farewell column for the paper’s final edition on 10 July, referring to its staff as “my good and trusted friends”.
Brooks is denying the latest allegations, calling them abhorrent, and “particularly upsetting.” This will simply add to the pile of troubles for Murdoch’s UK operations, as some are now questioning whether he should have a stake in British media at all:
Coming after the disclosure that the News of the World hacked and deleted the voicemail of the murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the news will raise further questions about whether News Corporation is “fit and proper” to own TV licences and its 39% share of BSkyB.
It will also revive speculation about any possible role in phone hacking of Brooks, who was personally very closely involved in covering the aftermath of Sarah Payne‘s murder and has always denied any knowledge of voicemail interception. On 15 July Brooks resigned as chief executive of News International and was arrested and interviewed by police.
Yeah, I’ve got the heeby-jeebies, too…
The sleaze factor on this story just keeps oozing.