Brooks: Sarah Payne hack claim 'beyond comprehension'

Former News International boss Rebekah Brooks has said that the idea that Sara Payne’s phone was targeted by the News of the World is “beyond my comprehension”.

Allegations that private detective Glenn Mulcaire targeted the mobile phone of Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000, emerged yesterday.

It is apparently the latest piece of information which has found its way to The Guardian from the Met Police’s analysis of 11,000 pages of notebooks kept by Mulcaire when he worked for the News of the World.

The Met has previously said that it has evidence of around 4,000 phone-hacking targets following its new analysis of evidence which it has kept since the initial 2006 investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World. So many more revelations are yet to come in the weeks and months to come.

At the current rate it had been estimated that Operation Weeting would take more than a decade to reveal all the targets.

The Sara Payne revelations will be particularly hurtful to Brooks, because when she was editor she worked very closely with Payne on the ultimately successful campaign for Sarah’s Law – legislation which has given parents the right to know whether paedophiles live near them.

Payne has previously said that, contrary to earlier reports, her phone had not been hacked by the News of the World. She was said to be “absolutely devestated” by the latest news.

According to The Guardian, the evidence found in Mulcaire’s files relates to a phone given to Payne by the News of the World so she could contact her supporters.

Brooks 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.”

The Phoenix Chief Advocates – a campaigning group which Payne helps run – 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.”

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