'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."


A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home