Senior Surrey police officers investigated over Milly Dowler phone-hacking claims

Surrey force knew for decade that murdered girl’s voicemails were intercepted

Two of Surrey Police’s most senior officers are to be investigated over why the force remained silent for 10 years about its knowledge that the News of the World had hacked Milly Dowler’s voicemails.

Craig Denholm, the deputy chief constable of Surrey Police, and Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, will be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over how much they knew about the NOTW’s illegal accessing of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone during the early stage of the force’s investigation into the schoolgirl’s abduction and murder in 2002. It will also try to establish why no criminal investigation into the hacking was launched.

The Independent has learnt that the IPCC probe will also look at Surrey officers’ continuing silence during 2006/07, when private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and royal reporter Clive Goodman, both working for the Murdoch-owned Sunday tabloid, were charged and jailed for phone hacking. The IPCC investigation will also examine the Surrey force’s failure to formally tell Scotland Yard what it knew in 2009 when new allegations of phone hacking were published.

The decision to launch the investigation of Mr Denholm, who is responsible for “risk and reputation” at the Surrey force, follows revelations in The Independent last October that senior Surrey officers knew Milly’s phone had been hacked by the NOTW in 2002.

In January, Surrey’s acting deputy chief constable, Jerry Kirkby, conceded to the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that substantial contact had taken place between officers and NOTW reporters, including a meeting between senior officers and NOTW executives at the force’s headquarters in Guildford in July 2002. On another occasion, a tape recording of one of the voicemails left for Milly was played to a Surrey Police press officer by a NOTW reporter.

Last night, the Labour MP Tom Watson, who helped expose the full extent of the hacking scandal, said: “This marks a new milestone in the hacking inquiry. To think of the misery caused to countless victims of illicit surveillance after Surrey Police were made aware of phone hacking by News International. Much of it could have been stopped had they acted.”

The IPCC were called in after the Surrey force this week formally handed over a dossier from a year-long internal investigation, Operation Baronet, which has been examining the “circumstances surrounding the accessing of Milly Dowler’s voicemail”.

The watchdog said it was investigating the “conduct” of Mr Denholm, and “examining the information” Ms Woodall provided to Operation Baronet. Although Ms Woodall led the hunt for Milly Dowler’s killer from 2006, securing the conviction of doorman Levi Bellfield last June, The Independent has learned that the IPCC probe will focus on the period when she was a liaison officer to the Dowler family, and is alleged to have informed the force of her suspicions that Milly Dowler’s phone had been illegally accessed. The police watchdog want to know why a criminal investigation was not ordered by Surrey Police.

Milly’s parents said they welcomed the “proper investigation of what happened at Surrey 10 years ago” but added they “regretted that the passage of time means that some individuals can now no longer be investigated”.

In October The Independent reported that the control of the initial stages of the Dowler investigation came under Mr Denholm and Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Gibson. Mr Gibson has since retired from the Surrey force but is under contract to the Metropolitan Police as a civilian investigator. Scotland Yard were asked if Mr Gibson wished to comment on the IPCC investigation, but did not reply by the time of going to press.

Surrey Police said Mr Denholm and Ms Woodall would remain in their jobs while the IPCC investigation went ahead.

News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
people
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?