Phone hack anger of 7/7 family

NMAC11-1812-2''Mansfield Christopher Johnson
NMAC11-1812-2''Mansfield Christopher Johnson

THE family of a Sutton man killed in the 7/7 attacks say they are ‘appalled’ relatives of other victims may have had their phone messages hacked by the News of the World.

Adrian Johnson’s widow Cathey also told how the paper presented her children with a 2005 courage award after the tragedy - around the time a private investigator working for the paper may have been trying to hack other 7/7 families.

Mrs Johnson was contacted by the Metropolitan Police on Friday and told it appeared her family had not been targeted.

But as the sixth anniversary of the tragedy passed, Mrs Johnson said the claims should lead to new rules and procedures on how the media deals with families subject to high-profile news stories.

“If it had happened to us then it would feel like a violation,” she said.

Their children Christopher, now 15, and Rebekah, now 12, were presented with a certificate and surprise £5,000 cheque in November 2005 after winning one of the Children’s Champion’s awards organised by the paper.

“I didn’t want my children singled out above any other children who were affected by it, so we accepted the award on behalf of all of them,” she said.

“It was a very surreal time.

“I suppose what has happened in the last week does make you doubt the award.

“It’s very upsetting and what I think upset me most was hearing what they allegedly did with Millie Dowler’s phone, deleting messages which gives the family that thought ‘is she still alive?’

“I know what it’s like to wait six days for news, it feels like months.

“Surely there must more procedures put in place to better protect families.”

Adrian (37) was one of the 52 victims of the 2005 attacks.

He was killed while travelling to work on a Piccadilly Line tube train shortly after leaving King’s Cross.

The family faced repeated phone calls and visits from the national media in the days and weeks after.

“We were lucky in a way because our family liaison officers were like a wall and released press statements for us,” added Cathey.

“But there perhaps should be more protection for families because other 7/7 families had similar experiences (with press attention).”

News International, which ran the News of the World, is facing claims a private investigator hired by the paper hacked the voicemails of celebrities, politicians and even murdered Surrey schoolgirl Millie Dowler after she went missing in 2002.

The Guardian has reported Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the 7/7 attack at Edgware Road tube station, said he had been contacted by officers conducting the Met’s investigation into phone hacking.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News International’s parent company News Corporation, said last week the claims were ‘deplorable and unacceptable’.

“I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations,” he said in a statement.

“We are committed to addressing these issues fully and have taken a number of important steps to prevent them from happening again.”

The News of the World published its final edition on Sunday after being closed down by the firm in the wake of the claims.