News International Finally Axes Milly Investigator's Legal Fees

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Harper Investigations Reporter

RUPERT MURDOCH'S media empire today bowed to public pressure by axing payments to the private investigator who targeted murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

News International announced it would stop funding Glenn Mulcaire's expensive legal battle against a High Court order that forces him to reveal News of the World executives who commissioned him.

James Murdoch admitted to MPs yesterday that payments were being made towards Mr Mulcaire's legal fees -- and said he was "surprised" when he found out.

Mr Mulcaire could now be forced to drop his appeal and name the executives who employed him. The order also compels him to identify further celebrities targeted by the tabloid.

Mark Lewis, the Dowler family's lawyer, said: "This is potentially a massive development and a step nearer to the truth which, despite the Murdochs' protestations of openness, is still only emerging bit-by-bit through members of the public using their own modest savings to take on a global media giant in the courts."

The private investigator was jailed in 2007 for hacking phones for the News of the World. Since his release it has emerged that he could have targeted thousands of other victims.

Mr Mulcaire allegedly intercepted messages left for Milly, 13, after she went missing near her home in Waltonon-Thames, Surrey in March 2002. He also allegedly deleted some messages when the voicemail became full. This is said to have given Milly's family false hope that she was still alive. Milly's remains were found in woodland in Hampshire six months later. Nightclub doorman Levi Bellfield was convicted of her murder last month.

A News International spokesman said today: "News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee met this morning and decided to terminate any arrangement to pay the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire with immediate effect."

The announcement came after the Standard told of the Dowler family's "shock and anger" at the company's support for Mr Mulcaire. …