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Police Milly hacking 'failure'

The police watchdog has said Surrey Police knew of a claim in 2002 that murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked, but failed to investigate. The IPCC said officers were "afflicted by a form of collective amnesia” over the incident.

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Former Dowler officers 'afflicted by collective amnesia'

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that former senior officers at Surrey Police were “afflicted by a form of collective amnesia” in relation to the force’s failure to investigate an allegation that the voicemail of Milly Dowler had been hacked by the News of the World.

The IPCC investigation found that there was knowledge of the allegation in 2002 at all levels in Operation Ruby, Surrey Police’s investigation into the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler, but that no action was taken to investigate it.

We will never know what would have happened had Surrey Police carried out an investigation into the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002.

We have not been able to uncover any evidence, in documentation or witness statements, of why and by whom that decision was made: former senior officers, in particular, appear to have been afflicted by a form of collective amnesia in relation to the events of 2002. This is perhaps not surprising, given the events of 2011 and the public outcry that the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone produced.

However, it is scarcely credible that no-one connected to the Milly Dowler investigation recognised the relevance and importance of the information Surrey Police held in 2002 before this was disclosed by Operation Weeting.

Surrey Police has apologised to the Dowler family for their failure and they were right to do so.

– Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair

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