MPs call for inquiry into Dowler police 'failure'
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Tuesday 07 February 2012
An authoritative inquiry into Surrey Police's handling of the Milly Dowler case and its decade-long silence over illegal voicemail interceptions and links with the News of The World, has been called for by MPs who helped expose phone hacking.
The demands follow a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission published yesterday which found no evidence that a Surrey detective leaked confidential information to the NOTW during the period in 2002 when the murdered 13 year old schoolgirl was still listed as missing.
In a brief three-and-half page report, the police watchdog concluded that the unnamed officer had received no illegal payments from the now-closed Sunday tabloid.
However the report offered no explanation why the Surrey force held documentation from the NOTW which indicated that "two payments had been made by journalists in 2002 in connection with Milly Dowler."
The report was described by Chris Bryant MP, as ‘very limited'. He told The Independent: "So far Surrey police have consistently failed to come clean about their complete failure to follow up the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone - which they knew about 10 years ago."
Mr Bryant called for a "full investigation into exactly what went on".
Surrey Police in contrast welcomed the report, saying it had called in the IPCC last year because it wanted to be "open and transparent".
The IPCC commissioner Mike Franklin, said allegations that a Surrey detective had provided information to NOTW journalists for cash during Operation Ruby
had not been backed up with "substantive or factual" evidence.
The report said a "disgruntled" former police officer, who had been the subject of "a misconduct matter" had offered information to journalists which had led to the IPCC probe. The information was described in the report as "supposition and rumour."
But the Labour MP Tom Watson, who helped lead the Commons' culture and media select committee inquiry into phone hacking, said the IPCC report did "not attend to the central issue of why there was 10 years of silence by Surrey Police."
Mr Watson said the key issue of the phone hacking scandal inside the Metropolitan Police, namely "strong evidence of wrong-doing" now had to be answered by Surrey Police
Last month Mr Watson's parliamentary committee received a letter from Surrey's deputy chief constable, Jerry Kirkby, which listed 15 separate discussions between police officers and NOTW journalists in April 2002 describing messages found on Milly Dowler's phone voicemails.
Neither yesterday's IPCC report, nor the report given to the DCMS committee, acknowledges the relationship between journalists from Sunday tabloid and the force's handling of the Dowler case.
In October last year, following an investigation by The Independent, Surrey Police's former chief constable, Mark Rowley, admitted for the first time that the NOTW had contacted the Surrey force in 2002 and disclosed to officers that it had accessed Milly Dowler's voicemails.
In a letter to the Home Affairs select committee Mr Rowley said Surrey officers had been "concentrating on retrieving evidence" when he confirmed that no criminal investigation had been launched into how the NOTW journalists had obtained personal information taken from Milly Dowler's phone.
General Election 2015: Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind as he casts a line to the disaffected of Grimsby
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 The top 50 cities for young people to live in