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Holly and Jessica in link to tabloid phone-hack scandal

THE parents of murdered children Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman have been warned by Scotland Yard detectives that their mobile phone voicemails may have been intercepted by a private detective working on behalf of the 'News of the World'.

Police are understood to have contacted the parents of the two young girls slain by Ian Huntley in Soham, England, after finding mobile telephone numbers belonging to family members in files seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator working for the Sunday newspaper.

Disclosure of the warning came just a day after it emerged that teenage murder victim Milly Dowler had her mobile phone voicemails intercepted by the newspaper in the days after she went missing in 2002.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police, the force area which investigated the disappearance of the 10-year-old girls in the summer of the same year, said that the families -- Kevin and Nicola Wells and Leslie and Sharon Chapman -- were contacted by the Metropolitan Police in March this year.

It is not clear whether mobile phones belonging to the girls were also hacked. Jessica Chapman had a mobile phone with her the day she died while Holly's phone was found in her bedroom.

The Wells and Chapman families refused to comment on the suggestion that the families had been targeted, but Mr Wells said that the family were being kept informed by the police.

A statement from police said: "Both families have been contacted by officers from the Metropolitan Police and are assisting them with their enquiries."

The revelations that the 'News of the World' phone hacking extended to innocent victims of crime as well as high-profile celebrities has raised the possibility that other victims' families were hacked -- something police are examining.

One senior police source said: "Basically every major crime story, every major news event, there was some sort of hacking involved. It was systematic."

Yesterday Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, which owns the 'News of the World', was forced to deny that she was going to resign following condemnation of the alleged hacking from David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.


But Mrs Brooks -- who edited the paper at the time of the alleged hacking of Milly Dowler and the Soham families -- faced growing pressure last night after it emerged that:

•Major Aavertisers including Ford, Currys and Halifax are to suspend advertising in the newspaper following an online campaign for a boycott. WH Smith and other newsagents are also under pressure not to stock the title in shops this Sunday.

•The UK government is considering whether to hold a public inquiry into media standards and phone hacking. A three-hour debate on the issue is to be held in the House of Commons later today.

News International executives privately fear that even more damaging allegations about phone hacking victims are about to emerge.

The news that victims of crime were targeted has prompted other high-profile victims to query whether they too had their messages targeted by the Sunday tabloid.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, said that there was evidence to suggest that someone had attempted to access the mobile phones of people close to the couple after their daughter Madeleine disappeared in 2007.

The family of Natasha Hogan, whose six-year-old son was thrown to his death from the balcony of a hotel in Crete by his father in 2006, believe her mobile phone was hacked and plan to contact police.

And Linda Bowman, the mother of aspiring model Sally Anne Bowman (18) who was murdered in Croydon in 2005, said the revelation that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked had fuelled her suspicions that her daughter's mobile may also have been targeted in the immediate aftermath of her death. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent