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Family of murdered schoolgirl meets with Britain's deputy leader after phone hacking scandal
LONDON (AP) ' The family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler met with Britain's deputy prime minister Monday to discuss their concerns about the hacking of her phone by the News of the World tabloid.
The scandal exploded last week when it was reported that the newspaper had hacked the mobile phone of the 13-year-old murder victim in 2002 ' even as her family and police were frantically searching for her. The tabloid's operatives reportedly deleted some messages from the phone's voicemail, giving the girl's parents false hope that she was still alive.
On Sunday, the 168-year-old News of the World published its final edition, brought down by the scandal over the interception of voicemail messages. The last edition of the weekly paper included an apology to readers for the newspaper losing its way.
The hacking scandal has proved to be an embarrassment to the government because one of the senior editors of the paper later worked for Prime Minister David Cameron. His coalition partner, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, met with the Dowler family early Monday.
The owner of the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch, has traveled to London to manage the crisis on the final day of publication for the Sunday newspaper. But the closing of the News of the World has not ended the crisis, or tempered British anger over improprieties by journalists working for Murdoch.
The crisis has jeopardized Murdoch's $19 billion deal to take full control of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is responsible for dealing with the proposed bid, said he would seek advice as to whether the scandal raises questions over whether News Corp. is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting license.
Shares in British Sky Broadcasting dropped sharply Monday amid doubts over the company's ability to take full control of the lucrative satellite broadcaster. Murdoch owns 39 percent of the broadcaster, but wants to buy the rest.
The opposition Labour Party also turned up the pressure. Its leader, Ed Miliband, is working to force a vote in the House of Commons on a motion asking the government to delay a decision on BSkyB.
The 80-year-old Murdoch, the News Corp. CEO, has publicly backed News International's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, who led News of the World when its reporters committed some of the most egregious ethical lapses.
Murdoch put his hand on Brooks' shoulder Sunday and they smiled for a pack of photographers gathered outside his London apartment before walking to a nearby hotel for a meal.
She has insisted she was unaware of the hacking.