Police say Milligan died of asphyxiation due to ligature

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The Independent Online
POLICE confirmed last night that Stephen Milligan died from 'asphyxiation due to compression on the neck by a ligature'.

Scotland Yard, which is accused of leaking details of the MP's death before his family were informed, refused to comment further on the exact circumstances of his death except to say that police inquiries were continuing.

Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, ordered an investigation by the Police Complaints Investigation Bureau into claims that officers were involved in providing the press with information before Mr Milligan's family had been contacted.

Final results of forensic tests to determine the exact cause of death are expected to confirm that Mr Milligan, 45, the MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire, died alone. He was found naked apart from a pair of women's stockings on the kitchen-dining room floor of his London home on Monday evening. A length of electrical flex, tied in a noose, was around his neck and his head was covered by a black plastic bag.

Mr Condon's announcement came after Roger Gale, the MP for Thanet North and chairman of the Tory backbench media committee, urged Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, to seek clarification by the Commissioner of guidelines on the release of information by the police. Normal police practice is not to release the name of any deceased until relatives have been informed. Mr Condon said he was 'distressed and annoyed' that Mr Milligan's family heard about his death from a news programme.

Records at Scotland Yard showed that its press bureau was still refusing to confirm that it was Mr Milligan well after his name was being used freely in the broadcasting media. Details of the death were circulating in Westminster from about 6.20pm on Monday, two hours after his body was discovered.

Mr Gale said: 'It is a journalist's job to find out information, but it is not the police's job to give confidential and highly sensitive information.'

Nigel Waterson, Tory MP for Eastbourne, said: 'There is a genuine worry, which I certainly share, that some sections of the tabloid press are getting tip-offs from police officers in particular situations, presumably for money. In these cases there should be disciplinary action and officers found to be responsible should be subject to dismissal.'

Mike Bennett, chairman of the Metropolitan branch of the Police Federation, said: 'We all know that journalists monitor police radios. We all know that a casual conversation can be blown up out of all proportion. It seems scapegoating. The Conservative Party must be very annoyed that this has happened and that the news came out.'