Mulcaire: 'I didn't understand I had broken the law'

Last night the former News of the World private investigator Glenn Mulcaire accused of hacking the mobile phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler apologised and urged journalists to respect the privacy of his family.

Yesterday afternoon, the Press Complaints Commission made editors aware of a request by Mulcaire’s family to leave the area near their home saying that they were becoming distressed by the attention. They said the presence of journalists made it impossible for them to enter or leave their home.

In a statement issued to The Guardian, yesterday evening Mulcaire said: “Much has been published in the media about me. Up to now, I have not responded publicly in any way to all the stories but in the light of the publicity over the last 24 hours, I feel I must break my silence.

“I want to apologise to anybody who was hurt or upset by what I have done. I’ve been to court. I’ve pleaded guilty. And I’ve gone to prison and been punished. I still face the possibility of further criminal prosecution.

“Working for the News of the World was never easy. There was relentless pressure. There was a constant demand for results. I knew what we did pushed the limits ethically. But, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had broken the law at all.

“A lot of information I obtained was simply tittle-tattle, of no great importance to anyone, but sometimes what I did was for what I thought was the greater good, to carry out investigative journalism.

“I never had any intention of interfering with any police inquiry into any crime.

“I know I have brought the vilification I am experiencing upon myself, but I do ask the media to leave my family and my children, who are all blameless, alone.”

BBC journalist Jeremy Paxman commented on the statement on Newsnight last night saying: “If it wasn’t so nauseating it would be comical. Now the News of the World private detective accused of hacking into Mill Dowler’s telephone has begged the media to respect his family’s privacy.”

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