The “hackgate” scandal looks to have found a Croydon angle, with the boyfriend of murdered model Sally Anne Bowman joining the likes of Wayne Rooney, the family of David Beckham, and even Cherie Blair in taking legal action against News International over suspicions that he was a victim of phone hacking by journalists working for the News of the World.
Lewis Sproston dropped Bowman off at her South Croydon home in the early hours of September 25, 2005. The 18-year-old woman’s body was found on Blenheim Crescent the following day, shocking the nation and launching a police murder investigation that would last almost a year.
Initially, Sproston was arrested on suspicion of her murder, before DNA evidence exonerated him.
Sproston, now working as a plasterer, has joined the ranks of more than 500 people who are demanding compensation from Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group, alleging that their phones were hacked by staff on the now closed Sunday title.
Sproston’s claim emerged at a case management conference called by a High Court judge last week to discuss how much lawyers working on the matter would be able to charge for their costs.
There are 49 individuals who are suing the company including Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Beckham’s father Ted and Manchester United footballer Rooney.
Sproston’s name was added to that list of claimants last week, as he is demanding damages from both News Group Newspapers, the former publishers of the News of the World, and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who has been at the centre of so many of the hacking allegations.
Revelations that journalists on the News of the World hacked the phone messages of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old schoolgirl from Walton-on-Thames who was abducted and killed in 2002, scandalised the country last year, prompting the government to establish the wide-ranging Leveson Inquiry into the conduct of the press.
The Croydon murder of Sally Ann Bowman seven years ago, involving a young, photogenic blonde model, was covered extensively by the tabloids.
Thanks to the use of DNA evidence, with hundreds of local men coming forward to provide samples, Mark Dixie, a pub chef who lived on Avondale Road not far from the murder scene, was jailed for at least 34 years after being convicted of murder at the Old Bailey in February 2008.
Dixie had a string of previous convictions for sex offences and was arrested and charged nine months after the murder following a minor fracas in a pub. He was linked with the murder when his DNA was put through the police national database.
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- Phone hacking: News International could face more than 500 claims (guardian.co.uk)
- Phone hacking: timeline of the scandal (telegraph.co.uk)
- South End residents and businesses look to oust Tesco (insidecroydon.com)