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Judges allow Milly Dowler contempt case


The Attorney General won permission today to bring contempt of court proceedings against two national newspapers over the coverage of Levi Bellfield's conviction for the murder and abduction of schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Two judges at the High Court in London gave the go-ahead to Dominic Grieve QC to bring action against the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror.

Bellfield was convicted on June 23 this year of abducting and murdering 13-year-old Milly.

The jury still had to reach a verdict on a second charge - that the day before he snatched Milly from a street in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 2002, he had attempted to abduct Rachel Cowles, then aged 11.

But on June 24 the trial judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, discharged the jury from returning a verdict on the charge relating to Ms Cowles, saying that the publicity following Bellfield's murder conviction was so prejudicial that the jury could no longer be expected to consider it.

Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Mr Justice Bean heard argument today on behalf of the two newspapers that their publications would not have created a "substantial risk of serious prejudice".

But the judges, who only had to decide at this stage whether the Attorney General has an "arguable" case against them, granted permission.

A full hearing of the contempt allegations will now be held at a date to be fixed.