Sara Payne speaks out over hacking claim

The mother of an eight-year-old British girl murdered by a pedophile says she was “very distressed and upset” as she spoke for the first time about being caught up in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Sara Payne, who worked closely with the Sunday newspaper to campaign for tougher child protection laws, vowed to challenge “the bad apples head-on”.

In her first public statement since news broke that she may have been hacked by a private investigator, she vowed to play a proactive part in preventing it happening again.

In a statement to the Press Association, Payne said: “I am, as you can imagine, very distressed and upset by the news that my details have been found on Mulcaire’s list and would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support.

“I can confirm reports that I was given a phone by the campaign team and that my voicemail was only activated after my first aneurysm.

“Notwithstanding the bad apples involved here, my faith remains solidly behind all the good people who have supported me over the last 11 years. I will never lose my faith in them.

“My way would be to challenge the bad apples head-on, learn from the facts of the matter and be a proactive part of stopping this from happening again.

“I’m away with my children and family at the moment. For their sake and for the sake of the on-going investigation, I can make no further comment at this time.”

Payne spoke on Thursday night, hours after Glenn Mulcaire’s legal team said he acted “on the instructions of others”.

His lawyers strongly rejected suggestions that he “unilaterally” hacked into voicemails of victims without the newspaper’s knowledge.

His legal team’s statement came as the Tory MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said James Murdoch could be recalled to parliament after two senior executives at the newspaper claimed he knew about the widespread prevalence of phone-hacking back in 2008.

In a firmly worded statement, Mulcaire’s lawyers said he was “effectively employed” by the paper from 2002.

He was subsequently jailed along with former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman in January 2007.

Repeating Mulcaire’s apology for his part in the scandal, his lawyers added: “As an employee he acted on the instructions of others.

“There were also occasions when he understood his instructions were from those who genuinely wished to assist in solving crimes.

“Any suggestion that he acted in such matters unilaterally is untrue. In the light of the ongoing police investigation, he cannot say any more.”

Mulcaire has found himself facing questions over the extent of his involvement in the saga following fresh allegations that the former Sunday tabloid illegally accessed the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of victims of the 7/7 bombings in London, and grieving military families.

Payne became a tireless campaigner on child abuse issues after her eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by pedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

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