U.K. Police Detectives Being Probed Over Dowler Phone Hacking

Britain’s police regulator is investigating two senior detectives over what they knew about News Corp. (NWSA)’s News of the World tabloid hacking into the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is probing the deputy chief constable of Surrey Police over his alleged knowledge of the hacking, the watchdog said in a statement on its website today. It’s also investigating a detective superintendent over what she told the force during a 2006 internal probe into its handling of the Dowler case.

Surrey Police, the force southwest of London that probed the 2002 abduction and murder of 13-year-old Dowler, knew about the newspaper’s illegal voice-mail interceptions and failed to act, U.K. lawmakers probing the News Corp. scandal heard earlier this year.

“The Dowler family welcomes the proper investigation of what happened at Surrey Police 10 years ago,” their lawyer, Mark Lewis, said in an e-mail. “They regret that the passage of time means that some individuals can now no longer be investigated.”

Revelations almost a year ago that News of the World journalists deleted messages from Dowler’s voice mail during the police probe led to a public outcry, prompting News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to close the Sunday tabloid, then Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper. A media-ethics inquiry started in response to the scandal later heard evidence the journalists may not have deleted the messages.

Surrey Police said in a letter to Parliament’s Culture Committee in January that the tabloid told police in 2002 that it accessed Dowler’s voice mail, saying it got her mobile-phone number and access code from other schoolchildren. The new probe is the result of a referral to the IPCC from Surrey Police, the watchdog said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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