NEW: Actor Hugh Grant says police investigating News of the World have interviewed him
British Prime Minister David Cameron says a phonehacking inquiry is needed - but not yet
The hackers "need to be punished, and punished severely," the father of a bombing victim says
Police open a new investigation into evidence journalists bribed police officers
London (CNN) – A scandal around media baron Rupert Murdoch’s flagship British Sunday tabloid widened Wednesday, with the father of a bomb victim saying his phone may have been hacked and Prime Minister David Cameron calling the allegations “absolutely disgusting.”
Graham Foulkes, whose son was killed in a 2005 London terror attack, said Wednesday his phone number and home address were found in the files of a private investigator working for the News of the World.
The accusation follows allegations that journalists also hacked into the phone messages of missing teenager Milly Dowler, who was later found to have been murdered.
Police launched a special investigation this year into accusations of widespread phonehacking by News of the World, targeting politicians and celebrities. Actor Hugh Grant told CNN Wednesday police had visited him as part of their investigation.
Now, following allegations this week that the paper also illegally eavesdropped on murder victims and the families of people killed in terrorist bombings, Cameron said an independent inquiry was needed.
“We are no longer talking about politicians and celebrities but murder victims, potentially terrorist victims. It’s absolutely disgusting what has taken place,” Cameron said in the House of Commons. “I think everyone in this house and country will be revolted by what they’ve heard and seen on their TV screens.”
But Cameron said the inquiry could not begin until after the police investigation was done, for fear of interfering with it.
Separately, London’s Metropolitan Police said Wednesday they were opening an investigation into the possible bribery of police officers by people working for the News International media group.
Papers given to the Metropolitan Police by News International lawyers “include information relating to alleged inappropriate payments to a small number of… officers,” Commissioner Paul Stephenson said in a statement Wednesday.
A senior police officer involved in the phonehacking investigation called Graham Foulkes Tuesday to say his details were in the files of a private investigator working for the newspaper, the terror victim’s father said Wednesday.
Foulkes’s son David was among the 52 people killed on July 7, 2005, when suicide bombers hit three London Underground trains and a bus.
Foulkes said police did not tell him whether his phone had been hacked, but the possibility horrified him, he said.
“Our home phone number is known only to a few close friends and family and we’d obviously been having very intimate and detailed personal conversations, so to think now that these people may have been listening in to that at such an important time, such a dark and difficult time, is quite unbelievable,” Foulkes said.
He and his wife had just been talking about “how horrendous it must have been” for the Dowler family “to be told that someone had been listening in to them,” when he learned that he, too, might have been a victim of phonehacking, he told CNN affiliate ITV.
If the allegations of hacking are true, he said, the perpetrators “need to be punished, and punished severely.”
He called on News International, which owns News of the World, to be truthful and honest about what happened and “put their hands up and say we’re sorry.”
News International said in a statement Wednesday it was “shocked and appalled at any serious allegations with regards to victims of crime.”
The media group said it was investigating the allegations itself and cooperating with the police. London’s Metropolitan Police refused to comment Wednesday on the reports.
Labour party leader Ed Miliband said the chief executive of News International should resign in the face of what he called “the biggest press scandal in modern times.”
Cameron refused to back the opposition leader in his call for the head of Rebekah Brooks, who was previously editor of News of the World, saying it would be fairer to let the investigation run its course.
Phonehacking involves calling a phone from two other phones at the same time, sending one caller to voice mail. That caller then enters the code number to retrieve voice mail remotely. Hackers depend on the fact that many people never change the default PIN for voice mail retrieval.
Initial complaints about hacking came from politicians and celebrities, but the story took a new turn Tuesday with the accusation that the paper hacked into the voice mails of the murdered girl.
“The family are completely horrified. They thought this was all over” after the disappearance of Milly Dowler in 2002 and the conviction of a man for her murder this year, Dowler family lawyer Mark Lewis said Tuesday.
But in April, police told the Dowlers that journalists had hacked into their phones and those of their daughter, he said.
Journalists deleted some of Milly Dowler’s messages to make space for more, thus giving her parents hope she was still alive when she was dead, Lewis said.
The paper has apologized for hacking into the voice mails of celebrities and politicians, paying compensation to actress Sienna Miller and offering money to others.
But the Dowler case is the first time the newspaper is accused of interfering with a police investigation.
Police have declined to say publicly whether Milly Dowler was among the victims of phone hacking.
Meanwhile, the private investigator working for News of the World who was jailed over another phonehacking case, in 2007, issued a statement to the UK’s Guardian newspaper apologizing for the “hurt” caused by his actions.
Glenn Mulcaire did not mention hacking Milly Dowler’s phone but said he had never intended to interfere in any police inquiry.
He said he had faced “relentless pressure” for results at the paper, and that while he knew they were pushing ethical boundaries, he had not understood they were breaking the law.
Executives from Murdoch’s News International met with British police Tuesday over the claims, the company told CNN.
Chief executive Brooks told staff later Tuesday that it was “almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way.”
Brooks, who was editor of the paper at the time of the alleged Dowler hacking, told staff she was “sickened that these events are alleged to have happened.”
She said she had contacted the Dowlers on Tuesday “to assure them News International will vigorously pursue the truth and that they will be the first to be informed of the outcome of our investigation.”
CNN obtained a copy of the e-mail Brooks sent to staff on Tuesday. News International confirmed it was genuine.
Brooks acknowledges in the message that there is speculation she might resign, but said she was “determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues.”
At least five people have been arrested in connection with phone hacking investigations this year since a new investigation, Operation Weeting, was launched in January.
Mulcaire and a journalist working for the News of the World were sent to prison in 2007 for hacking into the voice mails of royal staff in an earlier investigation.
Police launched the new investigation this year in response to widespread complaints from politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures who fear they have been targets.
News International has apologized for unspecified cases of phone hacking. They say they have been cooperating with police since the new investigation was launched in January.
The Sunday tabloid newspaper in April offered compensation and “apologized unreservedly” for the “unacceptable” hacking. It did not name the victims.
News International owns the News of the World, plus the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times in Britain.
Murdoch’s media empire also encompasses Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Harper Collins publishers.