Surrey Police: 'no evidence' of leak to News of the WorldCredit: Johnny Green/PA
A Surrey police officer investigated over allegations of leaking information about Milly Dowler to journalists has been cleared by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The watchdog ruled today that there was "no evidence" to support the claim that the unnamed officer gave the News of the World information about the investigation into the missing schoolgirl, who was murdered in 2002.
Surrey police referred the matter to the IPCC last August – a month after the Guardian first revealed that Dowler's voicemail had been hacked while she was missing.
IPCC commissioner Mike Franklin said today that the leak allegation was "unsubstantiated" and had "gained currency in a climate where the relationships between the police and the media are under intense public scrutiny".
He said in a statement: "The allegations that a Surrey police officer provided information to journalists during Operation Ruby, and may have been paid for doing so, can only have added to the terrible loss endured by Milly Dowler's family.
"I hope our finding that there was no substantive or factual evidence to support the allegations will provide some reassurance to the Dowler family on this issue at least.
"A police officer was criminally interviewed and remained under suspicion for some months, as our investigators sought to establish the facts. We have provided Surrey police with our report and indicated we see no need for further action."
In a letter published by the culture, media and sport select committee last month, Surrey police provided a detailed timeline of communications between the force and a News of the World reporter in 2002.
It revealed that the force was aware in 2002 that the paper had access to voicemail messages. However, it dismissed the messages as likely to be the work of a hoaxer which it believed was impersonating Dowler, and did not pursue the issue of how the News of the World obtained the messages.
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