Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Charity to benefit from Dowler deal

Murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler

Rupert Murdoch is set to donate £1 million to charity from his own pocket as part of a multimillion-pound settlement over the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone.

The Dowler family is likely to receive about £2 million in a separate payout from News International, the publishers of the now-defunct News of the World.

News International has confirmed it is in "advanced negotiations" with relatives of the 13-year-old, who was abducted and killed by Levi Bellfield in 2002.

The firm 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."

Claims that Milly's voicemails were illegally intercepted by a private investigator working for the News of the World after she went missing in 2002 triggered a string of damaging revelations that led to the closure of the News of the World in July.

Mr Murdoch personally apologised to Milly's parents Sally and Bob and her sister Gemma when he met them in London in July. Their lawyer Mark Lewis said Mr Murdoch had been left "humbled" by the meeting.

The Hacked Off campaign, which has highlighted complaints of media eavesdropping on private calls, said in a statement it was "pleased to learn that the Dowler family have reached a settlement with News Corporation".

"This is a welcome signal of remorse from News Corporation," it said. "It would have been more welcome still had it not come almost a decade after the original incident and only as a result of the exposure of phone hacking through dogged journalism - not by News International."

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