Milligan inquiry clears police of leaking facts: MPs were main source of information, Yard suggests

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A SCOTLAND Yard inquiry into allegations that police leaked for money information about the bizarre death of the Tory MP Stephen Milligan, has found no evidence to support the accusations.

Mr Milligan was found dead at his west London home last month. He was wearing women's stockings and had a plastic bag over his head. Evidence suggested he died after a sexual practice involving a ligature went wrong.

Paul Condon, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, ordered the inquiry after some MPs accused police of releasing sensitive information about the death to the media. They called for the officers responsible to be sacked.

Instead the inquiry, some of the findings of which were released yesterday, appears to suggest it was MPs themselves, and the House of Commons staff, that were the main sources of information.

Mr Condon said yesterday that MPs making allegations were interviewed by detectives. No specific evidence was provided and in some cases the MPs withdrew the allegations. He said that in the 'feeding frenzy' of speculation and gossip following news of the MP's death, public knowledge of his identity was unstoppable.

Shortly after his body was found, a call was made, not by police, to Westminster which was misinterpreted. The call said the MP was 'dead in the house' which was taken to mean the House of Commons.

After this a 'hue and cry' ensued and hundreds of people quickly learnt the rumour as Westminster was searched. 'From that point on, all control of the information flow was undoubtedly lost,' he said.

He was concerned at the distress caused to the dead MP's family, some of whom learned of his death from the media.

Mr Condon said that before police could reach the family, a national newspaper reporter telephoned Mrs Milligan and asked her: 'How do you feel about your son being strangled?' He said he was satisfied the release of the name was not the fault of any officer.

Asked whether MPs themselves were to blame for the leaks, Mr Condon said the 'bulk of the information came from Westminster' where 'hundreds' of people had snippets of stories to pass on.

Refusing to 'point the finger' of blame, he stressed those close to the MP acted 'honourably and correctly and with the best of intention and motivation throughout'. It was a disciplinary offence for police to pass unauthorised information but it was not a criminal offence for other people to speculate or gossip.