The name of a serving senior Surrey Police officer, Craig Denholm, keeps cropping up in relation to the Milly Dowler phone-hacking. Indeed, Surrey Police themselves are soon to conclude an investigation into the handling of the 2002 Interceptions of Milly's mobile - Operation Baronet. Denholm is at present Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey. In 2002, following Milly Dowler's disappearance, he was one of three officers who met with two News of the World news executives. The two journalists from the NotW volunteered that Milly Dowler's mobile number had been obtained and the content of her voicemails messages accessed.Food for thought ahead of this week's Inquiry.
Craig Denholm is one of several police officers who have spent their careers boomeranging between the Surrey force and the Metropolitan Police Service. He first joined the Met in 1984 and spent time in CID on anti-corruption, drugs and intelligence work, and thence to NCIS (National Criminal Intelligence Services). He transferred to Hampshire Police for a relatively short time, subsequently moving to Surrey Police (for the first of his two Surrey stints) in 2001. He was a senior detective at the time of Milly's disappearance in 2002.
It appears that Denholm took no known action regarding his knowledge of Milly Dowler's mobile hacking by NotW. Was it then within Denholm's power to have taken action to stop the phone hacking scandal in 2002?
The present Assistant Chief Constable of Surrey, Jerry Kirkby, recently gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and, in his first witness statement, he stated that he is in the closing stages of heading an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Surrey Police actions (and inactions) re the hacking of Milly's mobile. This is Operation Baronet, and one of its tasks - to date unconcluded - is securing evidence from 2002. On completing Operation Baronet, Surrey Police intend submitting their final report to the Leveson Inquiry, together with additional witness statements. Obviously, the Operation Baronet report may be submitted confidentially, or redacted to avoid prejudicing Operations Weeting or Elevedon.
The long-anticipated 11th Report, 'News International and Phone-Hacking', from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was published last week:
"The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee criticised the (Surrey) police for being told by reporters they had hacked into the Walton teenager's phone - but not investigating for another ten years."
Denholm's career flourished with Surrey Police - Head of Crime Management, then Divisional Commander, then attaining the rank of Assistant Chief Constable until leaving Surrey Police in 2008.
He followed a well-worn path, yet again, back to the Met. He took up an appointment as Commander (Counter Terrorism) in Special Operations..... working directly with John Yates. Denholm could not have failed to be aware of John Yates' self-confessed, "crap", one day quasi-review of the facts around Operation Caryatid - the Goodman-Mulcaire phone hacking investigation. Although leaving the Met in June 2009 (returning AGAIN to Surrey Police), Denholm must have been aware of the Guardian story breaking and becoming headline news in early July on radio and TV news programmes.
Clearly, this raises questions, as well as eyebrows.
Why/Did Denholm stay silent about his knowledge of NotW phone-hacking in 2002?
Did Denholm maintain that silence in 2009, or did he tell John Yates when the Guardian broke its phone scandal story in that July?
If he DID tell John Yates, did Yates ignore this then-new evidence? Or did Denholm and Yates conceivably collude in suppressing their shared knowledge of NotW Milly Dowler mobile hacking?
It is now alleged too that the key meeting between Denholm and the NotW senior journalists was minuted - let's hope those minutes are amongst the 2002 evidence being secured by Operation Baronet.
On Monday May 4th, the Leveson Inquiry held an unscheduled hearing to address an application to make selected senior Government ministers
Core Participants. Lord Justice Leveson's Ruling, accepting the application, was published on the Inquiry web site.
The same day, another written Ruling also quietly appeared on the Inquiry web site - unremarked amongst the furore about Government Core Participants. This additional May 4th Ruling addressed an application by the Metropolitan Police. In essence, it sought to prevent or restrict Leveson's ability to criticise any individual current or former Metropolitan Police officer by name. Neither should Leveson, the Met asserted, even use any examples of behaviour which might allow identification of any un-named officer. The Ruling is worth a read. Lord Leveson argues, elegantly and eloquently, that he retains the right to cite names or other relevant evidence. Otherwise, hog-tied, he could be accused of providing unsubstantiated and subjective findings in reporting on the "Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press". The example Leveson uses in his Ruling is John Yates.
The Met have 14 days from this May 4th Leveson Ruling to appeal via a Judicial Review. It will be interesting to watch out for a possible appeal.... and to look forward to hearing more of Craig Denholm and Operation Baronet.
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