Tuesday 20 September 2011

Clegg condemns 'grotesque' hacking


No amount of money can absolve News International from hacking in to the phone of Surrey murder victim Milly Dowler, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said , following the disclosure that the company was about to settle its case with the teenager's family. Rupert Murdoch is set to donate £1 million to charity from his own pocket, while the Dowlers themselves will receive in the region of £2 million in a separate payout from News International, the publishers of the now-closed News of the World. The company has confirmed it is in "advanced negotiations" with relatives of the 13-year-old, who was abducted and killed by Levi Bellfield in 2002. On Tuesday Mr Clegg said no amount of money could absolve the company for what happened. He said: "It is not for me to decide what money News International offer the Dowlers. I think it is very, very important we now give the Dowler family the time and space they need to rebuild their lives and move on. "I think the reason why people were so outraged by the invasion of the privacy of the Dowler family is that they weren't celebrities, they weren't politicians, they hadn't asked to be put on the front page of the nation's newspapers. I have met them and they are a lovely, strong, every-day family who lost their daughter and were dealing with that terrible tragedy and even then these journalists - it's just grotesque - were invading their privacy. "In a sense I think, and I am sure the Dowlers feel the same, that no amount of money can absolve people for what they did." News International is reported to have set aside £20 million for payments to phone hacking victims, but a source said the size of the expected compensation for the Dowlers reflected the "wholly exceptional circumstances" of their case. Sources close to the Dowlers have said any agreement will feature a donation to charity. It is not yet known which cause, or causes, would benefit. A News International spokesman said: "News International confirms it is in advanced negotiations with the Dowler family regarding their compensation settlement. No final agreement has yet been reached, but we hope to conclude the discussions as quickly as possible."