Milly Dowler police who failed to investigate phone hacking claims in 2002 are let off with a warning

Senior Surrey police officers suffered 'collective amnesia' over hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone… but got let off with 'words of advice' despite failing to actIPCC finds Surrey's senior officers knew of crime in 2002 but ignored it
'Senior officers appear to have been afflicted by a form of collective amnesia'Craig Denholm and Maria Woodall were accused of knowing for a decade
Lack of evidence means that misconduct charges against them are droppedBut Surrey Police still take 'management action' against the serving officers

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Tributes: Craig Denholm (left) stands with Bob and Sally Dowler, Milly's parents, who said because her voicemail messages disappeared they believed she was alive – in fact her her phone had been hacked

Mr Denholm was disciplined by Surrey for failing to 'assess material sent to him' and Ms Woodall for not 'making the connection between the convictions for phone-hacking in 2007 and the events of 2002'.

EX-SURREY POLICE OFFICER ARREST IN PAYMENTS PROBE

A former Surrey police officer has been arrested in connection with the investigation into alleged payments to public officials.

The 41-year-old man was arrested at 6am this morning at his home in Sussex on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, Scotland Yard said.

The former officer, who is being interviewed at a Sussex police station, was arrested by officers from Operation Elveden – Scotland Yard’s investigation into alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

The arrest is the 62nd under Operation Elveden, which is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and is running in conjunction with Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard’s inquiry into phone-hacking.

He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 8.

Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair, said: 'We will never know what would have happened had Surrey Police carried out an investigation into the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002.

'Phone hacking was a crime and this should have been acted upon, if not in 2002, then later, once the News of the World’s widespread use of phone hacking became a matter of public knowledge and concern.

'Our investigation has heard from officers and former officers from Surrey Police who have expressed surprise and dismay that it wasn’t investigated.

'We have not been able to uncover any evidence, in documentation or witness statements, of why and by whom that decision was made: former senior officers, in particular, appear to have been afflicted by a form of collective amnesia in relation to the events of 2002. This is perhaps not surprising, given the events of 2011 and the public outcry that the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone produced.

'However, it is scarcely credible that no-one connected to the Milly Dowler investigation recognised the relevance and importance of the information Surrey Police held in 2002 before this was disclosed by Operation Weeting.

'Surrey Police has apologised to the Dowler family for their failure and they were right to do so.'

The IPCC has released the findings today
but the final report could be published in 2014 to avoid prejudicing
ongoing criminal trials.

Tragic: Milly was a schoolgirl from Walton-on-Thames, shown here ironing in video released by her her family, whose murder shocked Britain

Tragic: Milly was a schoolgirl from Walton-on-Thames, shown here ironing in video released by her her family, whose murder shocked Britain

Surrey Police has already admitted it knew for nine years before it became public that Milly's voicemail had been hacked while she was still missing, but never told Scotland Yard when they ran their first phone hacking investigation in 2006.

Animal: Levi Bellfield abducted and murdered the 13-year-old after she walked past his home

Animal: Levi Bellfield abducted and murdered the 13-year-old after she walked past his home

The now defunct News of the World admitted hacking the 13-year-old’s mobile phone but it remains unknown whether two missing messages were deleted deliberately, as previously suggested, or were removed from her message box automatically.

The Leveson Inquiry into press standards has heard that Milly’s mother Sally phoned her daughter repeatedly in March 2002 after she vanished while walking home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.

The teenager’s voicemail message was a generic automated response when her message box was full but when a message had been deleted the greeting reverted to her personal greeting.

The Dowlers told the inquiry they were given ‘false hope’ by hearing the change of greeting – thinking their daughter might still be alive and had wiped a message.

In fact she had been abducted and murdered by triple-killer Levi Bellfield.

Following Bellfield's trial, the then Surrey Police chief constable, Mark Rowley, set up Operation Baronet to look into reports that Surrey Police was aware in April 2002 that the News of the World had allegedly intercepted Milly's voicemail.

Surrey Police said today they had taken action which they felt was appropriate.

Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm, pictured, and temporary Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall are being investigated over the circumstances surrounding the hacking of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone voicemails

Temporary Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, pictured, and Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm are being investigated over the circumstances surrounding the hacking of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone voicemails

Probe: Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm,
left, and Temporary Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, right, have been given warnings

Chief Constable Lynne Owens said: 'Surrey Police acknowledged in 2011 that the hacking of Milly Dowler’s voicemails should have been investigated and both the former Chief Constable and I have met with and apologised to the Dowler family for the distress this has caused.

PHONE HACKING INQUIRIES: FACTS

Operation Weeting: Probe into phone hacking.

Set up in January 2011 it has 96 officers working on it and has cost 11.2million so far.

Operation Elveden: Probe into corrupt payments to officials.

Elveden has 70 police investigating and
has cost 5million.

Operation Tuleta: Probe into computer hacking.

Set up in June 2011, Tuleta has cost 1.3million and has 19 officers on its staff.

Total arrests across all three: 108

'As a result of the Force’s internal investigation, two officers were referred to the IPCC. The IPCC has concluded that neither officer has a case to answer for misconduct.

'As the IPCC Commissioner has acknowledged, at the time Surrey Police became aware of phone hacking, the focus of the investigation team was on finding Milly Dowler and then bringing her killer to justice.

'This was the largest and most high-profile murder investigation in the country at the time and remains the largest enquiry ever undertaken by Surrey Police. It was right that Milly was the primary focus of the investigation but the matter of phone-hacking should have been revisited at a later stage.'

Scotland Yard has three parallel investigations sparked by journalists at the News of the World: Weeting into phone hacking, Elveden into corrupt payments and Tuleta into computer hacking, and 185 officers are working on them.

Almost 200 Scotland Yard detectives are working on them.

Weeting has 96 officers and has cost 11.2million, Elveden has 70 officers and has cost 5million and Tuleta has cost 1.3million and has 19 officers.

It will all cost 40million in total and run for at least three more years, the Met says.

So far around 108 people, including more than 70 journalists, have been arrested in relation to the three linked inquiries.

Of those arrested so far, 13 people, including four former police officers, seven journalists and two other public officials, have or will face court action.