Glenn Mulcaire

Mulcaire reiterated his apology to the parents of Milly Dowler, who appeared at the Leveson inquiry yesterday, but claims that he did not delete her messages

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

The private investigator at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal, Glenn Mulcaire, has denied deleting messages left on the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Mulcaire's solicitors, Payne Hicks Beach, said in a statement that he "did not delete messages and had no reason to do so".

It has been widely reported since the publication of a Guardian story in July that the News of the World was responsible for accessing the voicemails left for the murdered schoolgirl while she was missing and deleting them to free up space for more.

Her parents, Bob and Sally Dowler, told the Leveson inquiry yesterday that they had repeatedly called her phone while she was missing, but received a message to say that her voicemail inbox was full.

Sally Dowler told the inquiry of her joy at getting through to the voicemail message again, leading her to believe that her daughter was alive and had "picked up" some of the messages on her phone.

The statement issued by Mulcaire's lawyers said that the former private investigator, who was jailed in 2007 for phone hacking, had "previously expressed his sincere personal sympathy for the Dowler family" but "because of the ongoing criminal investigation, it is not possible for him to say much at this time".

"However, he fully supports the recent agreement by Surrey Police to disclose relevant documents from 2002 concerning voicemail interception of Milly Dowler's mobile phone.

"He is confident that they will shed light on the actions he took then and the basis of them. Further, he confirms that he did not delete messages and had no reason to do so."

The Dowlers' lawyer, Mark Lewis, responded to the statement from Mulcaire:

"Whether he listened to the messages and wiped messages out or whether somebody else was wiping messages out to create more room for more messages to be left, is one of the points the police will undoubtedly have to investigate and explore," he said.

The Dowler's also told the Leveson inquiry that they believed their own mobile phones were hacked by the News of the World after pictures of them taking a walk they had arranged in private were published by the now-defunct tabloid.

The inquiry continues today at 10am with evidence from the actor Steve Coogan, Elle Macpherson's former business adviser Mary-Ellen Field, former Blackburn Rovers footballer Garry Flitcroft, and Margaret Watson, mother of murder victim Diane Watson.

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