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Paper 'got Milly pin from children'

A News of the World journalist told police they got Milly Dowler's mobile phone number and pin from other schoolchildren, a report has revealed.

Details of exchanges between police and the Sunday tabloid over the apparent hacking of the murdered schoolgirl's phone were released by Surrey Police.

An individual from the newspaper admitted in April 2002 that they had accessed Milly's voicemail, according to the force.

The information emerged with the publication of a letter from Surrey Police to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee. It describes frantic discussions over a story the NotW was planning to run, claiming that Milly had contacted a recruitment agency.

An unnamed representative from the tabloid is said to have played police a recording of a voicemail left by the recruitment agency. By this time officers had established that the voicemail left for the murdered schoolgirl had actually been intended for someone else.

The Guardian reported last July that the NotW hacked Milly's mobile and erased messages shortly after her disappearance in March 2002. However, the Metropolitan Police have since indicated that, while reporters did access voicemails, they are unlikely to have been responsible for the deletions which gave the family false hope. Instead the recordings may have been automatically removed by the phone company after being listened to.

A statement issued on behalf of the Dowler family said: "The release of the Surrey Police statement is a further reminder of the relationship between that force and the News of the World. Current investigations are ongoing as to the propriety of that relationship.

"The report indicates that the police force were aware of a caller purporting to be Sally Dowler seeking information in 2002. No doubt there will be current investigations as to who that was as it was not Sally Dowler. The Surrey Police have not explained why they did not investigate that deception in 2002.

"No thought seems to have been given to the effect on the Dowler family. The family await the investigation by Lord Justice Leveson about the relationship between police forces and the Press. The Dowler family would be grateful if they could now be left alone."

A News International spokesman said: "The interception of Milly Dowler's phone was shocking and totally unacceptable... The matter is part of a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police and those who sanctioned or conducted this activity should rightly be held accountable for their actions."

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