Less than a month after Rupert Murdoch was forced to shut down his mass circulation British tabloid, The News of the World, because of allegations that the paper broke into the voicemail Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old murder victim, news emerged that despite its close relationship with Sara Payne, the tabloid broke into her voicemail as well. A repeat sex offender murdered Payne's 8-year-old daughter eleven years ago. Since her daughter's death, Payne has been lobbying for a law that warns parents if a child sex offender lives in the near vicinity, aided by the tabloid. .
The Guardian first notified Payne of the intrusion, but email newsletter Popbitch made the same declaration earlier this month. In fact, Rebekah Brooks, The News of the World editor, provided Payne with the phone that was later hacked, under the guise that the phone could help her with her campaign for the law. Payne was later informed that her name appeared on Glen Mulcaire's list, the private investigator hired by The News of the World. The list contained about 4,000 people rumored to be targets of the tabloid's phone scandal (Somaiya).
"The last edition of The News of the World made great play of the paper's relationship with the Payne family," said Tom Watson, a parliament member who investigated the phone scandal. "I have nothing but contempt for the people that did this" (Somaiya). .
Brooks testified that The News of the World did, in fact, give Payne a cell phone "for the last 11 years," but that "it was not a personal gift." She also added that the allegations were "abhorrent and particularly upsetting as Sara Payne is a dear friend" (Somaiya). .
However, Payne's charity, Phoenix Foundation, released a statement suggesting that they did not believe in Brook's innocence. "Today is a very sad dark day for us," the charity said on Facebook. "Our faith in good people has taken a real battering" (Somaiya).