Officer from Milly Dowler case wants chief constable job

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The senior police officer who led the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Milly Dowler, and who has recently been investigated by the police watchdog over his handling of the case, could be Devon and Cornwall’s next chief constable.

Craig Denholm, currently Surrey Police’s deputy chief constable, is on the shortlist of four senior officers who were interviewed today by Devon and Cornwall’s new police and crime commissioner, Tony Hogg.

The commissioner’s recommendation on the new chief constable, which carries a salary of £150,000 is expected to be announced today. Full approval will take place next month.

The investigation by the police watchdog focused on allegations that key officers in the Surrey force knew for almost  decade that Milly Dowler’s voicemails had been hacked into by the News of the World but had not pursued the matter.

Last year the Dowler family said that if Surrey Police had acted correctly in 2002 then other people could have stopped their private messages from being hacked.

The completed report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is also looking at the role of Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, was sent to the Chief Constable of Surrey Police at the end of last year. Bob and Sally Dowler, the parents of Milly, have been notified of the report’s findings.

The IPCC is consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service about what information from the report can be put in the public domain, because of criminal trials scheduled for this autumn involving News of the World journalists and executives.

Mr Hogg’s office said that the interview panel, which was to hear a 45-minute presentation from each candidate, had been given “detailed notes” on the four senior officers.

Although “considerable background research” had been carried out by the commission’s small staff on each of the candidates, Mr Hogg’s office would not confirm if the information pack on Mr Denholm contained details from the IPCC report, or indeed if it knew an IPCC probe had taken place.