Private detective Glenn Mulcaire last night denied deleting messages from Milly Dowler's phone as the murdered schoolgirl's parents spoke of their agony over the hacking scandal.
The investigator is accused of illegally accessing the teenager's voicemails after she went missing in 2002 but his solicitor said he had “no reason” to erase any of them. Milly's mother Sally told the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards that she did not sleep for three nights after police told her Mulcaire had hacked her daughter's phone.
The private detective's solicitor, Sarah Webb, of law firm Payne Hicks Beach, said Mulcaire had expressed his “sincere personal sympathy” for the Dowlers but could not say much because of the ongoing police investigation into hacking.
“He confirms that he did not delete messages and had no reason to do so,” she added in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Press standards inquiry has been told that News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch sat with his “head in his hands” when the sister of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler asked him to imagine being in their position.
In written evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Sally Dowler admitted that the meeting with media mogul Mr Murdoch in a central London hotel — organised after she learned her daughter's mobile phone had been hacked by the News of the World — was “extremely tense and a little surreal”.
Mrs Dowler said in her witness statement that Milly's sister Gemma had questioned Mr Murdoch.
She said: “There was little he could say apart from acknowledge that what had taken place was totally unacceptable and apologise to us which he did, although he did not make it clear what he knew about what was going on.
“Gemma asked Mr Murdoch how he would have felt if it happened to someone in his family. He just sat with his head in his hands.”
Mrs Dowler added that she received an apology from Rebekah Brooks in the form of a letter, but that the former News International chief executive had not taken responsibility for the phone hacking “nor did she fully accept that the hacking of Milly's phone had taken place”.
She concluded by saying she hoped the Leveson Inquiry would have a positive outcome, so that “other families are not affected in the way we have been, and that the press are forced to behave with responsibility”.