The Guardian issued a retraction on Monday of its explosive July 4, 2011 claim that News of the World hackers were responsible for the deletion of messages from a young murder victim’s cell phone.
A note buried at the bottom of the Web page for the original article reads:
“An article about the investigation into the abduction and death of Milly Dowler … stated that voicemail “messages were deleted by [NoW] journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance in order to free up space for more messages. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive.” Since this story was published new evidence — as reported in the Guardian of 10 December — has led the Metropolitan police to believe that this was unlikely to have been correct and that while the News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s phone the newspaper is unlikely to have been responsible for the deletion of a set of voicemails from the phone that caused her parents to have false hopes that she was alive, according to a Metropolitan police statement made to the Leveson inquiry on 12 December.”
The story received widespread attention and strong condemnation, resulting in the closure of News of the World and helped lead Prime Minister David Cameron’s appointment of Lord Justice Leveson to lead an inquiry “into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.”
Prior to folding, News of the World was owned by News International, Ltd.