NotW 'told Surrey Police about accessing Milly Dowler's phone'

The News of the World listened to messages on Milly Dowler's phone after her disappearance. Credit: Surrey Police/PA

A former News of the World executive told police the paper listened to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail while she was still believed to be missing, the Old Bailey has heard.

Stuart Kuttner, 73, called Surrey Police on April 13, 2002 to inform them of a message left by a recruitment agency in Telford on the 13-year-old's phone, the jury was told.

The former managing editor, who was not in court today due to ill health, told officers the newspaper gained access Milly's mobile phone number and pin, and urged them to check the lead, the court heard.

Police told Mr Kuttner the message was thought to have been left by a "professional hoaxer", a claim which was repeated on page nine of the newspaper the following day.

Later that day, chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck also called police and confirmed that the newspaper "had access" to Milly's voicemail, had obtained the number from "sources" and that it intended to run the story the next day, the jury of nine women and three men heard.

The jury also heard that former editor Rebekah Brooks was in Dubai on April 13 but there was alleged contact between her and colleagues, including then deputy Andy Coulson.

In the newspaper's first edition the story quoted the voicemail message left by Mondays recruitment service, which said: "We're ringing because we've got some interviews starting, can you call me back? Thank you, bye bye."

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks arriving at the Old Bailey today. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

By the second edition the text of the message had been edited out, while third edition focused on "outrage" at the possibility that it had been a hoax, the court heard.

Surrey Police communications chief Sarah McGregor told the jury she was informed by a colleague about Stuart Kuttner advising the NotW had access to Milly's mobile phone number and pin on April 13.

Jonathan Caplan QC, defending Mr Kuttner, suggested she was mixing up two different phone calls - one from his client to her colleague where there was no mention of a pin number, and one where Mr Thurlbeck told her the NotW was in possession of the pin number.

A court sketch of Surrey Police communications chief Sarah McGregor Credit: ITV News/Priscilla Coleman

The barrister later asked Ms McGregor: "When you were told on April 13 that Milly's voicemail had been accessed by News of the World, that did not cause you to refer it to anybody, that maybe this should be investigated?

Ms McGregor said: "I'm not a detective and I was not working as an investigating officer - it would be their decision."

Brooks, Coulson, and Kuttner all deny conspiring with others to hack phones between October 3, 2000 and August 9, 2006.

Mr Thurlbeck has already admitted phone hacking charges.