The Independent today reports that Surrey Police detectives may have known that News of the World journalists hacked Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002.
It reports on meetings which took place between two senior News of the World journalists and Surrey police officers in the weeks after Milly went missing in which the contents of allegedly hacked phone messages were discussed.
The Independent argues that Surrey Police should have investigated the phone-hacking then.
But a counter view would be that having come by this illegally-obtained information – the News of the World journalists would have been negligent not to bring it to the attention of police. It appears that they thought that they had evidence Milly was still alive, as the Wall Street Journal reported in August.
And presumably the priority for Surrey Police at the time was finding Milly Dowler, or her killer, not investigating a breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
It may also be that the News of the World journalists struck a deal with police before handing over the information.