Former News of the World lawyer Tom Crone today suggested that a story thought to have been sourced from Milly Dowler’s voicemails could instead have come from the police.
Crone was quizzed by MPs on the culture select committee today about a 300-word story which appeared in the first edition of the News of the World in April 2002 and which contained transcripts of messages left on the mobile phone of the Surrey schoolgirl in the weeks after she first went missing.
In a later edition of the paper this story was cut down in size with detail from the voicemail messages removed
Louise Mensch MP put it to Crone that this was evidence that an in-house lawyer had called for the story to be changed.
Crone said he had no recollection of the story in question.
But he added: ‘This story would appear to have come from police sources. That is not unusual. Police often for their own operational reasons think it is worthwhile to put messages out thereâ€¦
‘The detail in there suggests that it is a police briefing of some sortâ€¦.I think it is almost inevitable that police investigating her disappearance would have listened to whatever was on her mobile phone.”
He added that the police may have then seen the first edition of the paper and ‘realised for some reason that’s not what they wanted’and asked the newsdesk for the story to be changed.
Crone said that in that scenario no in-house lawyer would need to have been involved.