Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Sara Payne 'devastated' at claims

Sara Payne with former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks
Sarah Payne was murdered in 2000

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne was left "absolutely devastated" after being told she may have been targeted by a private investigator who hacked phones on behalf of the News of the World, a friend has said.

Sara Payne, who worked closely with the Sunday paper to campaign for tougher child protection laws, previously said she had not been told she was a victim of phone hacking.

But her friend Shy Keenan revealed that Scotland Yard this week told her that her contact details were found in notes compiled by private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed over phone hacking in January 2007.

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, who became close friends with Ms Payne during the paper's campaign, said the latest allegations were "abhorrent".

It is believed that the evidence found in Mulcaire's files relates to a phone given to Ms Payne by the News of the World so she could contact her supporters, the Guardian reported.

Ms Brooks said in a statement: "For the benefit of the campaign for Sarah's Law, the News of the World have provided Sara with a mobile telephone for the last 11 years. It was not a personal gift. The idea that anyone on the newspaper knew that Sara or the campaign team were targeted by Mr Mulcaire is unthinkable. The idea of her being targeted is beyond my comprehension."

A source close to News of the World staff said that it was understood that Ms Payne's phone did not have voicemail until 18 months ago.

Ms Payne was "deeply disappointed" when the news was broken to her by officers from Operation Weeting - as the Metropolitan Police's phone hacking inquiry is known - her child welfare group, The Phoenix Chief Advocates, said.

Ms Payne, who became a tireless campaigner on child abuse issues after her eight-year-old daughter was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000, is being comforted by her family.

The Phoenix Chief Advocates - run by Ms Payne, Ms Keenan and Fiona Crook - said in a statement: "Whilst it was previously confirmed by Operation Weeting that Sara Payne's name was not on private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's list, it has now been confirmed by the Operation Weeting that Sara's details are on his list. Sara is absolutely devastated by this news, we're all deeply disappointed and are just working to get her through it."

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