Gemma Dowler speaks out after hacking verdicts

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Media captionGemma Dowler accused sections of the press of 'bullying' behaviour

The sister of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked by the News of the World, has attacked the "incestuous" relationship between press and politicians.

Gemma Dowler called on the PM to keep his promises on press regulation in light of the phone-hacking scandal.

Voicemails on her sister's mobile phone were accessed after she went missing.

She was speaking out after former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to hack phones.

Her sister Amanda, known as Milly, was 13 when she went missing from her home in Walton on Thames in 2002.

Levi Bellfield is now serving a life sentence for abducting and murdering the teenager.

'Serious crimes'

Ms Dowler said: "No parents should ever have to be told that their murdered daughter's mobile phone was hacked.

"Some members of the press have been effectively allowed to 'bully' both ordinary and well-known people, all in the pursuit of a good story."

Speaking in a video message played at a press conference organised by campaign group Hacked Off, she said she wanted to set out "what I think should happen next to make sure that something good comes out of these terrible events".

"We have known for ages that serious crimes were being committed on a major scale in parts of the press," said Ms Dowler.

"Ordinary people have suffered terribly from journalists who recklessly intruded into private grief and stole private information."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The video message was screened at a press conference in central London

She described Ipso, the new media regulator being set up, as "meaningless".

"This is just the newspapers looking after themselves," said Ms Dowler. "Something needs to be done to make sure what happened to my family doesn't happen again.

"But there are other, equally worrying problems.

"Most important and damaging of all is the incestuous relationship between our top politicians and the press.

"For example Tony Blair, the prime minister when Milly disappeared, didn't phone us when he heard that Milly's phone had been hacked.

"But when he heard that the police were investigating Rebekah Brooks, he phoned her to offer his support."

'Permanent change'

While she was pleased that the Leveson inquiry took place, she had "not forgotten" the promises made by David Cameron about press intrusion.

"Many of the victims, including my parents, had to relive some terrible tragedies when they gave evidence about press abuse," said Ms Dowler.

"They did that in the hope and expectation that the prime minister would make sure things changed as he promised.

"Having gone to the expense of holding this inquiry, surely all the party leaders should now keep their promises and implement Lord Justice Leveson's proposals.

"My message to the prime minister and all the party leaders is this: 'This new fake regulator Ipso falls way short of Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations and is nowhere near good enough.'"

She called for "real and permanent change" as she concluded the message.