Parents describe horror of phone hacking scandal

LONDON - The parents of a murdered girl -- who say they were deceived into thinking she was still alive -- arrived at a judge-led media ethics inquiry here Monday. CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports Sally and Bob Dowler spoke along with a parade of celebrities, furious over how tabloid newspapers have invaded their private lives.

The Leveson Inquiry (Official website)

Sally Dowler is Milly Dowler's mother. Milly was a teenager who was abducted and murdered. But because a newspaper -- The News of the World -- was illegally hacking into her cellphone and listening to and deleting voicemails of those trying to find her, her parents reached the cruel impression she was still alive.

Murdoch apologizes to family of murdered girl

"I rang her phone and it clicked through onto her voicemail," Sally said. "So I heard her voice and I was like, 'She's picked up her voicemails, Bob. She's alive.'"

The hurt done to the Dowler family was always at the center of the national outrage over phone hacking. Now, that hurt has a face and a voice; a family already in anguish being toyed with for the sake of an already tragic story.

Hugh Grant: I was hacked by non-Murdoch tabloid

Actor Hugh Grant also joined the battle. He's become a poster boy for the "hacked-off" campaign, calling Britain's tabloid press a privacy invasion industry. "Whether the act is hacking a murdered girl's phone, I find that cowardly and bullying and shocking," Grant said.

The papers will get their hearing later. But this was the time for victims to describe the horror of what phone-hacking had done to them. "You're replaying everything in your mind, and just thinking - that makes sense now, that makes sense now," Sally said.

Except that for the Dowlers, the loss of their daughter and the false hope they were given, makes no sense at all.

Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, is now closed. It was accused of intercepting voicemail messages from more than 6,000 people. More than a dozen journalists from the paper have been arrested.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.