Thursday, December 15, 2011

Milly Dowler : TRANSCRIPT - Nick Davies: Dowler story had 'very significant' error

15 December 2011

Guardian journalist Nick Davies said on Newsnight that there was a “very significant" error in his first 5 July story about the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone by the News of the World.
But he said it was a “distortion of the truth” to suggest, as former News of the World features editor Jules Stenson did on the same programme, that The Guardian was guilty of “shoddy journalism”.

Davies was appearing in the wake of new evidence from the Metropolitan Police this week that the News of the World was probably not responsible for the voicemail deletions which gave the Dowler family false hope their daughter was alive.

Sun managing editor Richard Caseby attacked The Guardian at the Leveson Inqury on Tuesday for “sexing up” its phone-hacking coverage and reporting unproven allegations as fact.
It emerged last night that Davies refused to appear on the same panel as Caseby on Newsnight.

Introducing the programme host Jeremy Paxman said: “Richard Caseby, who is a News International executive, was prepared to appear on Newsnight tonight if he could face Nick Davies on a panel, but because Mr Davies doesn’t want to appear on the same panel as him Mr Caseby felt he was unable to join us. He also declined our offer of a one to one interview.”

'You're not answering'... You've asked the wrong questions'

Here is an edited transcript of the exchange between Paxman and Davies which opened the debate:

Paxman: “This central allegation, the most scandalous perhaps of the lot, that a murdered girl’s voicemails were deleted by the News of the World which you claimed to be a fact wasn’t a fact was it?”

Davies: “No you’re getting it all wrong here. The story that we published in July was squarely based on all of the evidence available and was correct in saying that her voicemail had been deleted and it remains the case that NI are not denying that News of the World journalists may have been responsible for those deletions.”

Paxman: “You say in the copy that the messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance. You don’t know that.”

Davies: “You’re getting the problem slightly wrong, you’ve misunderstood it. The problem is whether or not they were responsible for deleting the particular messages which caused the friends and family to have false hope. That is now in doubt.”

Paxman: “Do you know for a fact what you state as fact in this article?”

Davies: “Everybody who was involved in this story accepted that it was true.”

Paxman: “You’re not answering.”

Davies: “You’ve asked the wrong questions.”

Paxman: “Oh, I am so sorry.”

Davies: “You’ve misunderstood the problem”

Paxman: “This is the key question. Was it true?”

Davies: "Everybody involved in that story believed it was true. The day after I published that story I sat down for two hours with Glenn Mulcare, the private investigator at the centre of this thing, and subsequently he issued an apology and he didn’t disagree with a single word…”

Paxman: “But you state it as a fact, you don’t say it was a police belief.”

Davies: “Everybody involved in that story accepted that that story was true and continued to accept until four months later evidence that was not available, to everybody’s surprise, showed that one element of that story was now in doubt…”

Paxman: “You don’t report it as a belief you report it as fact.”

Davies: “And everyone accepted that it was true, the police accepted it in London and Surrey, the private investigator, News International – nobody disputed a word of that story…Nobody dissented from it. In retrospect it was in doubt.”

'This was the most important story in The Guardian's history'

Responding to this former News of the World journalist Stenson then said: “This wasn’t any old story, this was story that was the most important story in the Guardian’s history. It was vital that every single element of it should be right….

“He says it was accepted by everyone that it happened…News International at that time was a rabbit caught in headlights…They weren’t confirming anything to anyone.

“Just a week later after this sensational claim he claimed in a front page story again that the Sun hacked into Gordon Brown’s medical records to reveal his son’s cystic fibrosis…That story could have had exactly the same effect on The Sun that Milly had on the News of the World.”

Responding to this Davies said: “We’ve published more than a 100 stories revealing immoral criminal behaviour at the newspaper where you worked. Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah gave birth to a child, the doctors said this child appears to have a very serious illness, we need to do more tests…

“During that period The Sun discovered this confidential medical information about this sick boy. Any decent newspaper would say we can’t publish this but that newspaper chose to. That put enormous stress on those parents…

“We did not say The Sun had obtained that by hacking, you’ve just made that up, The Sun gained access to confidential medical information. At one point in the story I used a different turn of words, I said gained access to confidential medical records – and I couldn’t prove they got the file.

“This is the difference, The Guardian corrected and apologised [for] that. When did The Sun apologise for doing that cruel and inhumane thing?”

Speaking later on in the debate, Davies said to Stenson: “We published more than 100 stories which are confirmed in evidence gathered by police and in parliamentary inquiries and at the Leveson Inquiry and in civil actions and you pick on two errors, one of them very significant in the Milly Dowler story one of them really minor in the Gordon Brown story, and you distort the truth and say we are guilty of shoddy journalism.”

The Guardian :

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#Leveson Inquiry :Milly Dowler Voicemails 'May Have Automatically Deleted'

Milly Dowler : New Inquiry Into Milly Dowler Launched

Milly Dowler
Milly Dowler: it is now considered unlikely that Glenn Mulcaire had been responsible for deleting the missing girl’s voicemail messages. Photograph: Surrey Police/PA
The Leveson inquiry into press behaviour has launched its own investigation on Monday in an attempt, in Lord Justice Leveson's words, to "get to the bottom of" fresh evidence about the News of the World's hacking of Milly Dowler's voicemail.

The judge signalled that new statements would be taken from two police forces, Surrey and the Metropolitan police, about the question of the hacking and deletion of the murdered girl's voicemail messages.

This followed confirmation from counsel for the Met that it was now considered "unlikely" that the private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who had been commissioned to hack Milly's phone by the Sunday tabloid, had also been responsible for deleting her voicemail messages. Neil Garnham QC confirmed to a public session of the Leveson inquiry that Mulcaire had not been tasked by the NoW to hack Milly's phone until "some time after" the mystery deletion of voicemail messages from the 13-year-old girl's One-2-One mobile phone. As a result, he said, it was "unlikely" that Mulcaire was to blame for the deletions.

It was, however, conceivable, although also unlikely, that other NoW journalists had carried out the deletions.

He said the phone company's standard system was to delete messages 72 hours after being listened to, and that Milly had accessed her own phone "approximately 72 hours" before the Dowlers discovered the emptying of her voicemail box, giving them false hope that she was alive.

The Scotland Yard version was challenged by David Sherborne, representing the Dowlers. He pointed out that every single voicemail had been apparently deleted at once on 24 March 2002. This could not have been the result of automatic deletions of each message after 72 hours, he said, because the Dowlers had left a series of anxious messages on the phone in preceding days. Sherborne said someone else must have been accessing and deleting messages between 21 and 24 March. He pointed the finger at "a journalist at the NoW" who was also in possession of Milly's phone number and pin number: "The Surrey police know the identity of the journalist," he alleged.

Leveson said: "This information is of significance." The public would want to know the upshot of the fresh allegations, he said, and therefore he would be unable to leave the issue until part two of the inquiry, which was due to deal with phone-hacking allegations following the conclusion of any court cases.

He needed to "get to the bottom of what is likely to have happened" and could not "leave it hanging in the air indefinitely". Garnham denied that it was Scotland Yard officers who had initially blamed the NoW for the deletions. The Dowlers' lawyer, Mark Lewis, has publicly stated that the allegation about the NoW deletions first came via the Met.

Leveson told the inquiry he might have to go back to Surrey police, the original Dowler investigators, and ask them to submit evidence on the issue.

Garnham told the inquiry that it had now been discovered that the voicemail deletion occurred on 24 March 2002, the day the Dowlers visited the former Birds Eye office block in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, where there had been CCTV footage of their daughter.

"The MPS have been investigating the suggestion that Mr Mulcaire deleted voicemail messages on Milly Dowler's phone," said Garnham. "Although their investigations are not yet complete, they are presently able to say this.

"First, the visit by the Dowlers to the Birds Eye building occurred on 24 March 2002. Second, Mr Mulcaire was not tasked in relation to the Dowlers until some time after that date. Third, and accordingly, it's unlikely that anything Mr Mulcaire did was responsible for what Mrs Dowler heard when she called Milly's phone during that visit.

"It is not yet possible to provide a comprehensive explanation for the fact that on that occasion the automated 'mailbox full' message was not heard. It is conceivable that other News International journalists deleted the voicemail, but the MPS [Metropolitan police service] have no evidence to support that proposition and current inquiries suggest that it is unlikely. The most likely explanation is that existing messages automatically dropped off from the mailbox after 72 hours. The relevant phone network provider has confirmed that this was a standard automatic function of that voicemail box system at the time. There were approximately 72 hours between Milly's disappearance and the visits to the Birds Eye building."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Milly Dowler's voicemail messages 'were deleted by police' and not NotW

Milly Dowler: New evidence suggests the murdered schoolgirl's voicemail messages were accidentally deleted by police investigators
Milly Dowler: New evidence suggests the murdered schoolgirl's voicemail messages were accidentally deleted by police investigators

Surrey Police faced mounting evidence tonight that it was responsible for inadvertently deleting crucial voicemail messages left for Milly Dowler.

 Incendiary claims that News of the World journalists erased the missing teenager’s messages provoked public uproar and drove the phone-hacking scandal into the open.

 Her mother Sally gave a heart-rending account of how the discovery led her to believe the 13-year-old was still alive.

 But documents submitted as part of a civil case appear to show that the defunct Sunday newspaper was not to blame.

 Instead the messages were probably deleted automatically by her mobile phone provider 72 hours after detectives listened to them.

 Many mobile phone operators at the time of Milly’s disappearance automatically deleted voicemail messages after after they had been accessed.

The time between them being listened to and then deleted varied from 72 hours to 21 days. Operators still delete messages unless they are manually saved by the user.

 One of the first moves of investigators after Milly went missing on 21 March 2002 was to check her mobile phone account and social networking sites for clues.

Three days later, on March 24, Mrs Dowler discovered that messages had been deleted from the full voicemail box.

After serial killer Levi Bellfield was convicted of Milly’s murder this year, it was reported that the News of the World was responsible.

Parents: Bob and Sally Dowler were given false hopes by the deleted messages
Parents: Bob and Sally Dowler were given false hopes by the deleted messages
Journalists were suspected of deliberately deleting the messages to make space for fresh ones or to cover their tracks and keep the gathered information to themselves.

The news sparked a political furore that added fresh momentum to criminal inquiries into phone-hacking and the creation of the Leveson inquiry into media standards.

The News of the World was shut down as Rupert Murdoch personally apologised to the Dowlers and paid out £3million to them and several charities.

But evidence provided by Surrey Police as part of a civil case by hacking victims against News International has revealed the newspaper did not delete the messages.

The force has unearthed detailed logs of deleted messages from tearful friends and family members, suggesting they were compiled by police after being listened to.

But evidence remains that the News of the World went on to intercept messages left on Milly’s phone as her disappearance became a national mystery.

Its actions also hampered detectives at the time, prompting a wild goose chase and leading to a behind-the-scenes meeting between police and journalists.


Apology: Rupert Murdoch paid out £3million in compensation
Glenn Mulcaire
Apology: Rupert Murdoch paid out £3million in compensation for the scandal, but private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (right) denies deleting Milly's messages

The News of the World is still accused of deleting messages left on Milly’s phone later in her disappearance. It has not denied the claim.

It is not known whether journalists did this immediately or unintentionally by setting the automatic deletion clock running.

It has already emerged that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator responsible for phone-hacking on an industrial scale, was not commissioned until after March 2002.

He has furiously denied being responsible for deleting the messages and has offered the Dowler family his ‘sincere personal sympathy’.

There are now legal discussions as to whether the fresh evidence should be admitted to the Leveson inquiry.Mark Lewis, the Dowlers’ solicitor, said it was ‘not known’ who had deleted the phone messages.

He said: ‘There is no doubt that there had been deletions by someone other than Milly, and the deletions had not been triggered by Milly’s own actions.

‘It remains unchallenged that the News of the World listened to Milly Dowler’s voicemail and eavesdropped on deeply personal messages which were being left for her by her distraught friends and family.’

Meanwhile, police have revealed the total number of phone hacking victims will be about 800, far lower than previously estimated.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who is leading Operation Weeting, said every victim has now been contacted.

Thousands of others, whose names appear in material seized from Mulcaire in 2006, will be contacted but are not thought to have been hacked.

The cost of Operation Weeting, related inquiries and representation at the Leveson inquiry, is now expected to cost the Metropolitan Police £8million a year.

An external review led by Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart has been completed and is understood to have made up to 30 recommendations.

It is likely to mark its first anniversary in January without anyone being charged as the majority of suspects have been released on bail until March.

Surrey Police declined to comment. The Metropolitan Police said: ‘We are not providing a running commentary on the inquiry.’

Read more:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

#MillyDowler :Phone hacking: full text of statement issued by Dowler family lawyer

Mark Lewis of Taylor Hampton Solicitors has issued a statement on behalf of Bob and Sally Dowler
It has been reported that contrary to what the Metropolitan police had said to the Dowler family earlier this year [they] now suspect that the "false hope" moment may not have been caused by the News of the World's use of Glenn Mulcaire. As Bob and Sally Dowler have always said it is not known whether the deletions were by Glenn Mulcaire or another person from the News of the World.

What is known is that the deletions were not automatically triggered by Milly.

The mobile telephone company's records show that Milly's last call on her own phone was made on Wednesday 20 March 2002.

Automatic deletion triggered by Milly would have happened (at the latest) by Saturday 23 March 2002. The deletions that gave false hope to the Dowler family happened after that date and therefore were caused by someone else accessing her voicemail.

The Metropolitan police now say that an email indicates that Glenn Mulcaire was instructed in writing after the Dowler family's hopes were cruelly raised.

Whether Mr Mulcaire was verbally instructed by that individual earlier, or whether the deletions were triggered by someone else is not known.

It is known that a News of the World journalist indicated in 2002 that he had obtained Milly's phone number and the PIN number required to access her voicemails from a source other than Glenn Mulcaire.

During the course of the original investigation, Surrey police were in touch with very senior journalists from the paper.

A consequence of their discussions was the radical alteration in the later editions of a story which had appeared in the first edition of the News of the World of 14 April 2002.

A formal investigation into the role of individuals at Surrey police is being undertaken by the IPCC. The Metropolitan police are investigating the activities of individuals at the paper. At this stage it would not be appropriate to make further comment about those concerned.

It remains unchallenged that the News of the World listened to Milly Dowler's voicemail and eavesdropped on deeply personal messages which were being left for her by her distraught friends and family.

By listening to messages, deletions occurred even if no conscious act of deletion had been undertaken. This was why Mr Rupert Murdoch apologised to the Dowler family and conceded that his newspaper's behaviour had been abhorrent and a letdown to his father's memory and to his mother's standards.

The Dowler family ask again that people leave them alone to grieve in peace. They have suffered enough in 2011 from the traumatic trial of Levi Bellfield and the horrendous actions of individuals hacking into Milly's voicemail. Enough is enough.

Milly Dowler :Police logs raise questions over deletion of Milly Dowler voicemails

Milly Dowler's family
Milly Dowler's parents with her sister, Gemma. Operation Weeting has unearthed logs detailing their hacked messages to the dead girl. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Fresh details of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone by the News of the World have been obtained by the police, the Guardian has learned.

According to sources familiar with the case, officers from Operation Weeting have unearthed logs detailing the hacked messages from tearful members of the murdered girl's family.

It is understood that while News of the World reporters probably were responsible for deleting some of the missing girl's messages, police have concluded that they were not responsible for the particular deletion which caused her family to have false hope that she was alive.

Detectives told Milly's parents in April that the paper's journalists had intercepted and deleted messages on the murdered teenager's phone. Evidence has now revealed that Milly's phone would automatically delete messages 72 hours after being listened to.

This means the paper's journalists would have inadvertently caused some voicemails to be deleted after they began listening to them, but police found that some messages had also been deleted before the News of the World began hacking into her voicemail.

The paper's activities hampered Surrey police inquiries at the time, promoting a wild goose chase.

David Cameron described the way journalists listened to Milly's friends and family pleading with her to get in touch as "disgusting". Rupert Murdoch called it "abhorrent". He closed down the paper, apologised to the Dowlers and paid £3m to the family and a number of charities.

Operation Weeting's latest findings confirm the Guardian's report that Surrey police knew about the tabloid's phone hacking at the time and took no action; and that the News of the World hired a second private investigator, Steve Whittamore, to "blag" information about the Dowler family from confidential telephone records.

Testifying to the Leveson inquiry, Sally Dowler described how one day after Milly went missing she found that her daughter's voice mailbox had apparently been emptied. "I just jumped and said 'She's picked up her voicemails, she's alive'," she told the inquiry.

Evidence retrieved from Surrey police logs shows that this "false hope" moment occurred on the evening of Sunday 24 March 2002. It is not clear what caused this deletion. Phone company logs show that Milly last accessed her voicemail on Wednesday 20 March, so the deletion on Sunday cannot have been the knock-on effect of Milly listening to her messages. Furthermore, the deletion removed every single message from her phone. But police believe it cannot have been caused by the News of the World, which had not yet instructed private detective Glenn Mulcaire to hack Milly's phone.

Police are continuing to try to solve the mystery.

The Dowlers' lawyer, Mark Lewis, said last night that although Mulcaire had not been instructed by email at the time of Sally Dowler's "false hope" moment, it remained possible that the voicemails had been deleted by a News of the World journalist, or that Mulcaire had been instructed earlier by phone.

The original police theory was that journalists had deliberately deleted some messages because Milly's voicemail box had filled up, and they wanted to be able to listen to more.
In August, the Wall Street Journal disclosed that on 11 April 2002, three weeks after Milly's disappearance, the News of the World sent at least eight reporters and photographers to stake out a Midlands factory because they believed Milly was still alive and was trying to get work there.

They found nothing and ran a short story in that week's paper. In early editions it included direct quotes from three of Milly's voicemails. It was at about this time that the News of the World formally approached Surrey police to tell them what it had heard on the missing girl's voicemail.

Two representatives of the paper are believed to have met detectives in the incident room at Staines police station. The police, however, took no action against them. Scotland Yard has arrested a total of 18 people and has suggested that there may possibly be as many as 6,000 victims of voicemail interception by the paper. They are also investigating allegations of email hacking and the payment of bribes to police officers.

Lewis said: "The Metropolitan police earlier this year told Bob and Sally Dowler that in 2002 the News of the World had listened to their missing daughter's voicemail and deleted some of the messages.

"Mrs Dowler linked this to an incident when Milly's voicemail had suddenly ceased to be full and which had given her 'false hope'. There is no doubt that there had been deletions by someone other than Milly, and the deletions had not been triggered by Milly's own actions."

He added: "It remains unchallenged that the News of the World listened to Milly Dowler's voicemail and eavesdropped on deeply personal messages which were being left for her by her distraught friends and family."