A Surrey police officer is to be investigated over allegations that he passed information about the hunt for the killer of schoolgirl Milly Dowler to the News of the World.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it was investigating after a referral from the Surrey Police asking for it to assess claims that the unnamed detective gave details about the murder hunt to the defunct Sunday newspaper.
The Independent revealed last month that an officer was removed from Operation Ruby, the codename for the investigation into the disappearance of the 13-year-old, in the early days of the inquiry in 2002 and given "words of advice" about his conduct.
Surrey Police, which declined to comment yesterday, said at that time it had not found evidence that the officer gave information to the NOTW. It is understood that no fresh evidence has come to light since then but the force felt the matter should now be passed to the police watchdog.
The IPCC said: "A deputy senior investigator has been at Surrey Police this morning to get more information and will be writing to the Dowlers' solicitor at the family's request."
Mark Lewis, the family's lawyer, said they welcomed the investigation, but it was long overdue.
He told BBC News: "The family are obviously pleased this is being looked at, but it is nine years later than it happened. One officer was removed from the initial Milly investigation in 2002, we are now in 2011."
Surrey Police said last month the detective had been removed from the Dowler inquiry after he revealed details to a retired police officer, who reported the disclosures to the force.
It is understood that further allegations have been made suggesting that when at a social event the officer gave information to a NOTW reporter that appeared in the newspaper. He is not believed to have been paid.
The Dowler case is particularly sensitive after it emerged that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire hacked into Milly's voicemails after her disappearance and deleted several messages, giving her family false hope that she was still alive.