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News International to pay $3.2 million to family of murdered British schoolgirl

Signs displaying the names of the newspapers at The News International Plant are displayed at Wapping in London.Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

By news services

Rupert Murdoch's company said Friday it has agreed to pay 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) to the family of a murdered schoolgirl whose phone was hacked by the News of the World tabloid.

News International, the U.K. newspaper publishing division of News Corp, and the family of Milly Dowler confirmed the settlement in a joint statement.

Murdoch shut down the 168-year-old News of the World in July after evidence emerged that its reporters had eavesdropped on the telephone voice mail messages of the 13-year-old who disappeared in 2002 and was later found murdered.

The statement said Murdoch also will donate 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to charities chosen by the Dowler family.

"Nothing that has been agreed will ever bring back Milly or undo the traumas of her disappearance and the horrendous murder trial earlier this year," the Dowlers said in the statement. "The only way that a fitting tribute could be agreed was to ensure that a very substantial donation to charity was made in Milly's memory. We hope that projects will be undertaken so that some good can come from this."

The revelation that reporters eavesdropped on Milly Dowler's voice mail messages while police were searching for her — and mounting evidence that phone hacking was routine at the newspaper — shook Murdoch's media empire, and sent tremors through Britain's political, police and media establishments.

Murdoch’s News Corp will face pressure at the company’s annual meeting Friday. Many shareholders are unhappy about his dual role of chief executive and chairman, and some investors are calling for several directors -- including his sons James and Lachlan -- to step aside. Here's more on the issue from the Yale School of Management's Jeffrey Sonnenfeld:

The phone hacking scandal has already forced the resignation of two of London's top police officers, ousted executives at Murdoch's News Corp. and claimed the job of Prime Minister David Cameron's former spin doctor, Andy Coulson, an ex-News of the World editor.

Murdoch's global News Corp. has expressed contrition, launched an internal inquiry and set aside 20 million pounds ($32 million) to compensate victims, who could number in their hundreds. Detectives have informed more than 450 people that they might have been spied on by the newspaper.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.