Politicians must go through the “awful experience” of having their “dirty linen washed in public” to get to the truth about phone hacking, Milly Dowler’s family have said.
At a meeting in Westminster with Labour leader Ed Miliband, the murdered schoolgirl’s parents Bob and Sally, along with her sister Gemma, urged him to push for an in-depth investigation, even though it may cause embarrassment to senior politicians.
Speaking afterwards on their behalf, Mark Lewis, the solicitor representing the Dowler family, said “even now” it was still possible for the press to lobby politicians not to start the kind of inquiry that was needed.
Mr Lewis said the Dowler family were urging politicians to be “fearless” and to “stand up to the press”.
He added: “What they said to Ed Miliband was that they have had to go through having their dirty linen washed in public, they have had to go through this awful experience, and now it is time for politicians to have to go through the same experience to find out the truth of the position in respect to press intrusion into their lives and how it had been fermented by the relationship between the press and politicians.”
Convicted double killer Levi Bellfield, 43, was sentenced to a whole-life term last month after being found guilty of murdering 13-year-old Milly in 2002.
During Bellfield’s Old Bailey trial for Milly’s murder, it emerged her father Bob, 59, became police’s first suspect after he told officers his daughter had accidentally discovered one of his porn magazines and he admitted his interest in bondage.
Both he and Milly’s mother Sally broke down in court after being cross-examined by Bellfield’s barrister about how they coped with the situation and questioned about notes written by the teenager.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said at the time that members of the public generally “were appalled by the experience” the family had been put through.
This morning’s meeting with Mr Miliband was arranged by the Hacked Off campaign, which is pushing for tough action following the phone hacking revelations.
Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust and founder of the Hacked Off campaign, said the Labour leader agreed there was a need to go further than looking at the Met’s involvement and further than just News International newspapers.
He added: “He agreed that it had to include politicians, however difficult or uncomfortable that is.”