Phone Hacking

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 6th July 2011.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 2:36 pm, 6th July 2011

I congratulate my hon. Friend Chris Bryant on securing today’s very serious debate and on his forensic analysis of the problems and the work that he and others in Parliament have done to pursue this issue with vigour. The whole House will want to pay tribute to their work and determination.

The events of the past few days have sent shockwaves across the nation. With every hour that passes we hear more deeply disturbing allegations such as the claims that private investigators paid by the News of the World hacked into the phone of the missing 13-year-old Milly Dowler and erased some of her messages in the search for a story, thereby giving her parents false hope. There are also claims that other bereaved parents, including the Chapman family, Sara Payne and Graham Foulkes, were similarly targeted. We will not know the truth behind each of those allegations until the criminal investigation is complete, and of course we in this House must not prejudice the investigations or any potential trials that must take place, but we can say, very loudly and clearly, that the very idea of targeting victims and their families in their darkest hour is shameful, sickening and cruel.

This is not just about invasion of privacy: it is about the violation of victims and their families at a time when we know that there are doubts about the way in which our society and our justice system more widely treat victims and their families. That is why people across the country are rightly angry and want answers. For a start, this means that the current Met criminal investigation needs to be forensic and furious in the pursuit of truth. People want to know the truth about what happened. They want to know how it could have been allowed to happen in modern newspapers and stay hidden for so long. They want to know how this could have been tolerated and how people could have turned a blind eye. They want to know whether journalists interfered with or put at risk criminal investigations, how victims and their families could ever have been so appallingly treated and, of course, why these allegations were not sufficiently investigated at an earlier stage.