Police officer leaked details of Milly murder to paper: claim
The police watchdog is investigating claims that a Surrey Police officer gave out information about the Milly Dowler murder probe to the News of the World newspaper, it said on Friday.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it received a voluntary referral from the force about an allegation that a Surrey Police officer gave information to the newspaper in relation to the investigation into Milly's murder in 2002.
The watchdog said a decision had been made to investigate independently.
A statement added: “An IPCC Deputy Senior Investigator has been over at Surrey Police this morning to get more information about the case and will be writing to the Dowlers' solicitor at the family's request.
“Until we have shared further detail with him it would not be appropriate for us to make it public.”
The probe comes just weeks after revelations that a detective was removed from the case for leaking information.
Last month Surrey Police confirmed the unnamed officer was “given words of advice” and permanently taken off the probe in 2002 for telling a friend, a retired police officer, details about the investigation.
At the time, a police spokeswoman said there was no suggestion of any officer sharing information with the News of the World.
She added that a serving colleague reported the officer after they were told about the “inappropriate disclosure” by the person who had heard it.
At the time of the revelation, the Dowlers’ solicitor, Mark Lewis, said the murdered girl’s family were “distraught that such matters were taking place when the police were supposed to be looking for their daughter”.
Of the IPCC's announcement yesterday, he said: “The Dowler family welcome the full investigation into what happened at the time of the initial inquiry into Milly's disappearance.
“It would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this stage.”
News International would not comment yesterday. Surrey Police said it had “referred a matter relating to the conduct of an officer involved in the Operation Ruby investigation to the IPCC. Any further inquiries should be redirected to them.”
Amanda ‘Milly’ Dowler was 13 when she was abducted and murdered on her way home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on 21 March 2002. Her body was discovered six months later. On June 23 this year, former nightclub bouncer Levi Bellfield was found guilty of the girl’s murder and sentenced to a whole-life prison tariff. The case generated debate over the treatment of victims and witnesses in court, after Milly's family criticised the way they had been cross-examined during Bellfield's trial.