* Girl's disappearance prompted nationwide search
* Police investigating illegal phone hacking by the paper
* UK close to approving News Corp buyout of BSkyB
LONDON, July 4 A private detective working for
Britain's News of the World tabloid hacked into voicemail
messages left on the mobile phone of a murdered schoolgirl while
police were searching for her, a lawyer for her family said on
Mark Lewis, of solicitors Taylor Hampton, said police
investigating phone hacking by the paper had told the parents of
Milly Dowler that their daughter's own phone had been
He said the family planned to sue the paper, owned by News
International, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp .
The disclosure comes days after British government gave its
backing for News Corp to buy out British pay-TV group BSkyB,
rejected complaints the move would give Murdoch too much power
The government has announced a final consultation period
until July 8 to consider further undertakings to guarantee the
editorial independence of BSkyB's Sky News.
Five people have been arrested by detectives investigating
assertions that journalists on the News of the World hacked the
phones of members of the royal family, politicians, celebrities
and sports stars to listen to their voicemail messages.
The paper said in April it would admit liability and pay
compensation in eight cases, although lawyers say many more
suspected victims will seek compensation.
Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Surrey, south
England, disappeared in March 2002, prompting nationwide search.
Her bones were found six months later in a wood. Last month a
former nightclub doorman was convicted of her murder.
"Who was at the News of the World thinking it was
appropriate to try and hack into the phone of a missing young
girl?" Lewis told BBC television.
"It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn that the News
of the World had no humanity at such a terrible time.
"The fact that they were prepared to act in such a heinous
way that could have jeopardised the police investigation and
give them false hope is despicable," he added.
Opposition Labour politician and former deputy prime
minister John Prescott said it was not too late for the
government to hold up the News Corp-BSkyB deal.
"These people are not fit and proper persons to be running
our major media," he told BBC radio.
The government has said the hacking investigation will not
affect its decision on BSkyB, saying that was related solely to
the issue of media plurality.
A spokesperson for News International said it had been
cooperating with the police investigation.
"This particular case is clearly a development of great
concern and we will be conducting our own inquiries as a result.
We will obviously co-operate fully with any police request on
this should we be asked," the spokesperson said.
Last month film star Sienna Miller's privacy and harassment
claim against the News of the World was settled for 100,000
(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Jon Boyle)