The name Milly Dowler is synonymous with the worst of the illegality uncovered in the News of the World phone hacking scandal. But what did the popular British Sunday tabloid do, and what made it so terrible? Milly, a 13-year-old English girl, was abducted on her way home from school in Surrey

in March, 2002 and later murdered. Her disappearance was a time of excruciating anguish for her family as Surrey police hunted for clues to her fate. The Guardian, which had pursued the phone hacking scandal for years, published a story in early July, 2011, alleging that a private investigator employed by the NoW had not only listened to the missing girl’s phone messages in search of a scoop, but also deleted messages from the phone (Leigh 2011). The appalling result of the illegal phone hacking and deletion of the messages was that Milly’s parents were given false hope that their daughter was still alive. The tabloid’s theory – gleaned from a hacked message that they misunderstood – was that at the time they hacked her phone, Milly was still alive, and they sought police support for their theory. According to The Guardian, the behaviour of the paper helped neither the Dowlers nor the police. Milly’s mother, Sally, and father, Bob, were the first witnesses at the Leveson inquiry into the ethics of the British media. Sally told of her elation at being able to leave a message for her daughter – ‘it clicked into voice mail, so I heard her voice and it was just like, she’s picked up her voicemail, she’s alive’ (Milly hack gave Dowler parents false hope 2011). After her disappearance, Milly’s voice mail had quickly filled and prior to the deletions all Mrs Dowler heard was a recorded message saying a message couldn’t be left. Part of Rawls’ veil of ignorance theory suggests ‘walking in another’s shoes’, in other words, putting yourself in their position. Can you imagine how you would feel under the circumstances? Little wonder Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in the wake of The Guardian’s repulsive revelations. Murdoch authorised the payment of £2 million in compensation to the Dowlers and a further £1 million donation to six charities chosen by the family (Gayle 2011). Murdoch said he made the donation to underscore his regret for the ‘abhorrent’ hacking of the schoolgirl’s phone (Gayle 2011). It would emerge later that police could not be sure that the paper had been responsible for deleting the girl’s phone messages (We may never know how Milly Dowler’s voicemails were deleted 2012). Milly’s body was discovered more than six months after her disappearance. Serial killer, Levi Bellfield, was found guilty of her murder in 2011 and sentenced to a ‘whole life tariff’, meaning he will never be released (Rayner 2011).