'Lack of evidence' over Milly Dowler leak

 

Allegations that a Surrey police officer gave information to journalists during the investigation into the disappearance of Milly Dowler in 2002 are not supported by any "substantive or factual evidence", The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said.

The matter was referred to the IPCC by Surrey Police in August last year after the force received information from three newspaper journalists that they were going to publish the allegations.

Mike Franklin, IPCC Commissioner, said today: "It appears from this investigation that unsubstantiated information, perhaps not surprisingly, quickly gained currency in a climate where the relationships between the police and the media are under intense public scrutiny.

"A police officer was criminally interviewed and remained under suspicion for some months, as our investigators sought to establish the facts. We have provided Surrey Police with our report and indicated we see no need for further action."

Mr Franklin said the terms of the IPCC investigation were specific to the allegations and the police officer concerned.

"The allegations that a Surrey Police officer provided information to journalists during Operation Ruby, and may have been paid for doing so, can only have added to the terrible loss endured by Milly Dowler's family," he said.

"Surrey Police, quite rightly, came under a great deal of scrutiny over this issue - the allegations are serious and required independent examination.

"I hope our finding that there was no substantive or factual evidence to support the allegations will provide some reassurance to the Dowler family on this issue at least."

The IPCC said the Dowler family had seen its report into the specific officer. They are conscious of the fact that other investigations not involving the IPCC are ongoing and have no further comment to make.

The IPCC investigation, which began in August last year, centred around claims that a Surrey Police officer gave information about the Milly murder probe to the News of the World.

It had received a voluntary referral from the force about an allegation that an officer gave information to the newspaper in relation to the investigation in 2002, and a decision was made to investigate independently.

A month before the investigation began, Surrey Police confirmed the unnamed officer was "given words of advice" and permanently taken off the probe in 2002 for telling a friend, a retired police officer, details about the investigation.

At the time, a spokeswoman said there was no suggestion that any officer had shared information with The News of the World.

She said a serving colleague reported the officer after they were told about the "inappropriate disclosure" by the person who had heard it.

Surrey Police said they welcomed the findings of the IPCC investigation.

In a statement, the force said that, at the time the allegations emerged last year, it was not aware of the source and took the decision to refer the matter to the IPCC in order to be "open and transparent".

Immediate disciplinary action was taken in 2002 against the officer concerned after it became apparent he had provided confidential details about the investigation to a retired police officer friend.

He was immediately and permanently removed from the inquiry and from the Major Crime Investigation Team.

The force said it has since emerged that the allegation originated from a "disgruntled former officer".

"It is now apparent that this recent allegation originated from a disgruntled former officer who resigned from Surrey Police pending a misconduct hearing following a criminal conviction at Aldershot Magistrates' Court in 2010," the force said.

"He provided an account of the 2002 events in a phone call to an MP's office in which he made a number of false allegations including that the officer in question had met a News of the World reporter at a social function and passed on confidential information around the Milly Dowler case.

"The MP then passed that claim on to journalists.

"The former officer did not provide the IPCC investigation with any specific details or evidence to support his allegations and the Commissioner's report has described the information as 'supposition and rumour' at best."

PA

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories