Allegations that a Surrey police officer gave information to journalists during the investigation into the disappearance of Milly Dowler in 2002 are not supported by any “substantive or factual evidence”, The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said.
The matter was referred to the IPCC by Surrey Police in August last year after the force received information from three newspaper journalists that they were going to publish the allegations.
Mike Franklin, IPCC Commissioner, said today: “It appears from this investigation that unsubstantiated information, perhaps not surprisingly, quickly gained currency in a climate where the relationships between the police and the media are under intense public scrutiny.
“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.”
Mr Franklin said the terms of the IPCC investigation were specific to the allegations and the police officer concerned.
“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,” he said.
“Surrey Police, quite rightly, came under a great deal of scrutiny over this issue – the allegations are serious and required independent examination.
“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.”
The IPCC said the Dowler family had seen its report into the specific officer. They are conscious of the fact that other investigations not involving the IPCC are ongoing and have no further comment to make.
The IPCC investigation, which began in August last year, centred around claims that a Surrey Police officer gave information about the Milly murder probe to the News of the World.
It had received a voluntary referral from the force about an allegation that an officer gave information to the newspaper in relation to the investigation in 2002, and a decision was made to investigate independently.
A month before the investigation began, 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 spokeswoman said there was no suggestion that any officer had shared information with The News of the World.
She said a serving colleague reported the officer after they were told about the “inappropriate disclosure” by the person who had heard it.
‘Lack of evidence’ over Milly Dowler leak