back to article NotW didn't delete Milly Dowler 'false hope' voicemail

New evidence has emerged that shows that the News of the World was not responsible for deleting voicemail messages on murder victim Milly Dowler's phone, a move that gave her family false hope that the schoolgirl might still be alive. Scotland Yard officers working on Operation Weeting discovered phone logs that showed that …


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  1. Purlieu


    Are they really trying to tell me, that from 2002 until 2011 the message deletion was not believed to be automatic? I mean, that's only 9 years to figure it out.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    still listened to the messages though.

  3. Bif

    Oh yes they did.

    The NOTW hacks (or their proxies) accessed the voicemails. This caused them to be automatically deleted. Had the messages not been accessed, they wouldn't have been deleted and the Dowler family would not have noticed that the previously-full voicemail spool was accepting new messages.

    Trying to get a job on a Murdoch rag are we?

  4. John Styles


    And it has taken this long for all those investigating / pontificating to figure this out?

  5. dave 81
    Thumb Down

    Good Riddance

    I am past caring what the NoTW did or did not do. I am just glad that that bunch of tards are no longer around to make someone do something then report it as if it was news. Real undercover work is reporting on what happens with out some pushy left wing anti royal [see you next Tuesday] steering the events so a crap paper could sell a few sheets.

    1. Jedit

      "Trying to get a job on a Murdoch rag are we?"

      I doubt it, but your demonstration of a complete and utter inability to read or understand basic facts suggests that you are.

      The article clearly states that some of the messages were deleted in this fashion before the NotW accessed the phone. The NI hacks obfuscated the time of Milly's last real access by reading the messages, and are thus guilty as charged of interfering with a police investigation. However, the allegations that they had *deliberately* deleted messages to make room for more "newsworthy items" are false.

      The NI hacks also cannot be held responsible for any false hope given to the Dowlers in the first three days after Milly's disappearance, as those messages would have been deleted even had they done nothing. As those three days are the crucial period in which changing gears from a low-priority runaway case to a hunt for a murderer would have had the greatest effect, the effect of their actions to hinder the investigation is reduced.

      They're still scum, of course, but not quite as scummy as they are being painted.

    2. Joeykins

      yeah, but

      NotW "left-wing"? Really? You sure you're not getting your tabloid politics confused? NotW (along with all other Murdoch titles) are hysterically right-wing for the most part.

  6. rurwin

    Oh yes they did.

    "the girl's phone would automatically delete voicemails 72 hours after being listened to."

    So by listening to them, somebody was responsible for them being deleted. It certainly was not Milly. If it wasn't the media, maybe it was the police.

  7. mrfill

    Oh dear...

    What a shame - they closed the NoW on grounds that were not true. That's really cheered me up.

    1. Craigness


      There were other grounds to close the paper, but it's only after the Milly Dowler story that the man on the street actually cared.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I think he was taking the piss.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      the biter bit

      filthy rag's reputation ruined[1] by news, doubts[2] later cast on veracity of news. poetic justice anyone.

      [1] well, relatively speaking

      [2] no I'm not convinced by this latest evidence.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How... awful.

    The damage's done on all sides and then it turns out it wasn't what everyone thought it was.

    This isn't going to turn back the clock, give people their reputations back, much less bring the poor girl back to life. None of that changes that the NoTW had no business listening to the voicemails, it merely indicates that the reactions might've been a little over the top --and in and of themselves too that much extra strain on the family, say-- and anyway misdirected.

    Point in case: Someone, say the police with warrant in hand, should've poked the voicemail operator and made them 1) make the storage unlimited for that account during the investigation, 2) archive the whole thing, 3) provide timely access logs on both who was leaving messages and who was listening to them, as both were relevant to the investigation.

    1. Tom 13

      A reaonable response in the comments?

      Oh, I see... AC,

      So not a regular Reg poster then...

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: not a regular

        But AC posts quite frequently...

  9. Peter Clarke 1

    Instant Karma

    NotW falls victim to fictional accusations before the full facts come out! Who woulda thunk it?

  10. ph0b0s

    Good job by the police again....

    So all that heartache and acrimony for something the was not even true. How much of a technical secert and hard to find out, was this new bit of information? Thats the police of you, there to make a drama out of a crisis...

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    It doesn't matter...

    The mud has already been thrown, the bandwagons jumped upon, the manufactured outrage piled atop the genuine disgust for political gain.

  13. Kevin Johnston

    But then again

    NotW didn't seem to make any attempt to deny they had done it suggesting that either it was 'normal practise' or they just didn't care what lengths their investigators et al went to.

  14. Heff

    Oh for gods sake

    I hope you didnt pay for this one, reg, Its being debunked live on the news with nothing more than an infant-school level of applied math. Voicemails are deleted with 72 hours. Voicemails went missing before that. QED....

  15. Bugs R Us

    same end result

    The result is the same, the world is a better place without the NotW.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >"automatically delete voicemails 72 hours after being listened to."

    So if the NoTW reporter hadn't listened to them, they wouldn't have been deleted. Guilty.

    OK, it wasn't that they were intentionally deleting them, but their actions inevitably caused those messages to be deleted. Anyone who has had a phone (and hence a voicemail account of their own) should have known this just by RTFMing. These guys knew the system well enough to hack past a default password, they have no justification for saying they didn't know how the most basic features of it operate.

    We don't excuse bombers when they say "I didn't blow anything up, it was that naughty gunpowder, not me, all I did was light a fuse and the rest 'just happened'." NotW, being in posession of detailed expert knowledge on how the voicemail system operates, could and should have known what would result from their actions and are just as responsible for their consequences as if they had intentionally chosen that outcome.

    1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face


      ... or RTFingM ?

      1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

        ... or RingTFingM...

        no, you were right first time.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        RTFMing ...

        ... should be R'ingTFM, shirley?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They accessed the messages knowing they would be deleted 72 hours after being listened to.

      So their deliberate and knowing act caused the messages to be deleted.

      I see no difference between this and hitting a delete button.

  17. phuzz Silver badge

    Even so, they're still arseholes. They're just not /complete/ arseholes.

  18. Nickjx


    So messages deleted themselves prior to NOTW hacking into the phones? After being listened to by someone *not* the parents? Whatever. Scotland Yard still on the wrong side.

  19. Rob O'Connor

    Could've been the parents listening to the messages. After all, they were accessing the voicemails - maybe they listened to the messages too?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      @Rob O'Connor

      That was my thought, too. It is well known that the parents were listening to the messages (otherwise how would the mother have known that messages were being deleted?).

      Still a bit of a fail for the police: a) why did they let the parents keep the phone (it was a means of gathering evidence/intelligence relevant to the missing girl); b) if they had reason for (a), why did they not think to protect the messages? - even in 2002, some members of the police force (sorry, "service") had dragged themselves sufficiently out of whatever slime it is that produces coppers to have mobiles of their own.

  20. tony

    Shame Labour aren't as organised running the country as they are at getting revenge.

  21. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Doesn't really matter

    The nub of the matter, irrespective of NoTWs deliberate deleting of voicemails, or unintentional (by accessing them, and tripping the 3 day auto-deletion) is the NoTW were *surreptitiously* accessing the account. This meant valuable police time and expertise was engaged in following up apparent phone activity, which might have been better deployed searching for known sex offenders in the area. Who knows, they may have been able to knock on Bellfields door a *second* time, and caught him then.

    The sheer arrogance and brass balls of the NoTW cannot be overstated. Who the fuck did they think they were that they could patently (and ILLEGALLY) interfere in a life-or-death police investigation. And here's more thought-fodder ... you don't get an attitude like that overnight. You get it because you have done similar in the past, and got away with it. So how many serious criminal investigations did the NoTW similarly queer ? The only way to find out would be to ask them.

    What's that you say ? They've closed down ? I bet the shredders worked overtime in the last 48 hours. I wonder if it was like the film "Downfall" ?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      "So how many serious criminal investigations did the NoTW similarly queer ?"

      I had a similar thought last night, when I heard Mazher Mahmood had said that the NotW was a force for good because of the very large number of convictions brought after investigations. There surely now has to be grounds for appeal in every single one of them, since the evidence is now clearly suspect.

  22. 100113.1537


    who did access the voicemails then?

    Isn't that the issue here?

    No-one seems to be mourning the NoTW, but pretty much all of the papers were doing the same thing and it looks like it was someone else who accessed these particular messages, causing them to be deleted. If it turns out to have been the Guardian (who's reporters have been making hay with NI's troubles), will that be closed down by it owners?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      As I said above ...

      ... probably the parents.

  23. ■↨

    The Sun hires Liars

    This would be the same police force claiming this that are also being investigated by the Leveson Inquiry for being in the Murdoch Media's pockets having accepted bribes from them, would it?

  24. P. Lee Silver badge

    Caused the shuttering of the NoTW?

    I seem to think a BBC R4 NOW show guest quoted a murdock memo saying that they planned to "rationalise" NotW brand => "Sun on Sunday" a couple of weeks before the scandal broke.

    I'm a bit hazy on the details but worth checking the podcasts.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who accessed the voicemails?

    > Detectives .. have since uncovered evidence that showed the girl's phone would automatically delete voicemails 72 hours after being listened to. Some of those messages were deleted prior to anyone working for the NotW gaining access to Milly's voicemails, Scotland Yard reportedly said ...

    Regardless, NotW did access the voicemail and any voicemails so accessed would be deleted after 72 hours, assuming this to be true. Also, they would have a record of the phone numbers used to access the voicemails, wouldn't they? Just how difficult is it for security services to trace a phone call.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge


      the reason the NoTW outsourced the dirty work (apart from obvious fact of plausible deniability) is some tech-heads ran the op ... didn't they use proxied VOIP calls to access the voicemail. This allowed them to spoof CLI (and thus trick the service into going into voicemail) ....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: The Sun hires Liars

    > This would be the same police force claiming this that are also being investigated by the Leveson Inquiry for being in the Murdoch Media's pockets having accepted bribes from them, would it?


    That's why the 'investigation` is proceeding ever so slowly. I mean just how difficult is it to trace the phones that were used to access the emails?

  27. Ascylto
    Big Brother



    £2,000,000 paid by NewsCorp to Millie's family for distress

    £6,000,000 paid to Rebekkah Wade (Or whatever she calls herself now) for knowing nothing about the phone hacking and having to resign (weep,weep).

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