Hacking probe shocks Sarah Payne's mum

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The Independent Online

Police have told the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne her phone may have been hacked by a private investigator used by the News of the World, a friend said today.

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



But her friend Shy Keenan confirmed today that Scotland Yard has since informed her that her contact details were found on a list compiled by private detective Glenn Mulcaire.









Ms Payne was "absolutely devastated" 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.



She became a tireless campaigner on child abuse issues after her eight-year-old daughter was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.



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.



"Sara will continue to work with the proper authorities regarding this matter."











It has been suggested that the evidence found in Mulcaire's files relates to a phone given to Ms Payne by former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks as a gift so she could contact her supporters, The Guardian reported today.





Ms Payne wrote a column for the final issue of the News of the World on July 10 after it was closed amid growing political and commercial pressure over the phone hacking scandal.



Describing the paper as "an old friend", she described how it became a driving force behind her campaign for a "Sarah's law" to give parents the right to find out if people with access to their children are sex offenders.



She wrote: "We did not meet under the best of circumstances. In fact, it was the worst, most horrendous time in my life. But from that moment on the News of the World and more importantly the people there became my very good and trusted friends.



"And like all good friends they have stuck with me through the good and the bad and helped me through both."



The revelation that Ms Payne's phone may have been hacked follows allegations that the News of the World illegally accessed the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, 7/7 victims' relatives and grieving military families.



As well as resulting in the closure of the paper, the scandal has led to the resignations of Ms Brooks, two of Britain's most senior police officers and Les Hinton, one of Rupert Murdoch's most trusted lieutenants.











Ms Brooks said the latest allegations were "abhorrent" and "particularly upsetting" because Ms Payne was a "dear friend".



She 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.



"It is imperative for Sara and the other victims of crime that these allegations are investigated and those culpable brought to justice."



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