Newspaper staked out Milly Dowler lead instead of informing the police

The News of the World staked out a possible location for murdered school girl Milly Dowler for more than 24 hours before informing police, the phone-hacking trial heard today.

Prosecution counsel Andrew Edis said Glenn Mulcaire, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and Stuart Kuttner had all been involved in the hacking of the murdered school girl’s phone.

He stressed that Ian Edmondson was not involved in this event as he was not at the News of the World at the time.

Edis said this event led to the demise of the newspaper as well as the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

"The prosecution say that the News of the World, through Mr Mulcaire, hacked her (Milly's) phone during that time.

"We say that Mr Mulcaire did the hacking and Mrs Brooks, Mr Coulson and Mr Kuttner – not Mr Edmondson, he wasn't around at that time – were criminally involved in the conspiracy which resulted from that phone-hacking."

Edis said Brooks (pictured above) took a particular interest in the Milly Dowler story because of her previous involvement in a campaign surrounding another murdered schoolgirl, Sarah Payne.

The court heard that Mulcaire listened to a message on Dowler’s phone from a recruitment agency offering her work in Telford.

The News of the World sent out a team of reporters as a result to stake out the location.

One of the reporters sent on the job filed petrol expenses as “Millie Dowler answerphone messages”.

Edis claimed instead of contacting the police with this new information, the paper sent a reporter and a photographer to Telford to stakeout the location.

As well as the factory, the News of the World sent reporters to “doorstep” the recruitment agency, to demand information on Milie Dowler – the court heard.

Edis told the jury that the message had not been intended for Dowler and it was a coincidence.

Edis said the News of the World wanted to find Millie Dowler as this would have been a great story.

At the time Milly Dowler disappeared in April 2002 Brooks was on holiday in Dubai, but she made several long phone calls to the newspaper.

Edis said Kuttner even went to Surrey Police, who were investigating 13-year-old Milly's disappearance, to tell them the newspaper had a tape of voicemail which could assist with the investigation.

"It is good that they gave that information to the police," he said.

"What is less good is that they gave the information to the police on Saturday, when they had had it for several days."

He told the jury it was possible that the force "could and should have investigated" that information at the time, but officers would have been focused on finding the missing girl.

The court also heard that Brooks told Eimear Cook, former wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, that phone hacking was rife in the newspaper industry.

"She said all you needed was a person's mobile phone number and a factory pin and you could listen to their voicemail, and actually gave an example of a story involving Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills," Edis told the jury.

He said there was indeed evidence that McCartney and his then wife had been targets of phone hacking by Mulcaire.

This led to a story in the NotW in June 2002 with the headline Macca Throws Heather's Ring Out Of Hotel Window, he claimed.

All eight defendants deny the charges.

The trial continues…

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