Editor’s Note — Milly Dowler’s mother, Sally, will testify against Ghislaine Maxwell.
Ghislaine Maxwell, a former BT executive, is on trial for 20 charges including fraud, perverting the course of justice and aggravated burglary.
Her defense team claims that a fire damaged her offices at the now defunct London tabloid The News of the World, creating a “fake paper trail.”
Ghislaine Maxwell has used pre-trial evidence to tell jurors that she has the death certificate of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old girl whose family’s phone was hacked, and a payoff of more than 30,000 pounds ($48,000) for bringing the hacking scandal to light.
Milly’s parents, Sally and Bob Dowler, have traveled to court to watch how the trial is progressing.
“This is important not just for Sally and me, the Dowler family, but for everybody in the United Kingdom,” Sally Dowler told CNN’s Richard Quest after giving evidence in January.
“Not only have they damaged people’s lives with horrific articles, but they’ve damaged our country’s reputation around the world.”
Sally Dowler’s only daughter went missing in 2002. Later that year, Dowler’s voicemail messages were accidentally deleted by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was working for the News of the World.
This resulted in some messages eventually being played back to Milly’s phone to create a narrative that she was dead.
This weekend, Met Police’s Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley provided more details on how the fire came to be so damaging to the case.
Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police: There was a fire inside one of the flats that Ms. Maxwell had rented in London in 2003. That would have created a very large “fake paper trail.”
The main thing I’d ask the jury to remember as we conclude our case, and we will, is these are just the most detailed facts we have from police. These are not conclusions, or anything like that.
Clearly we have some clear gaps in our knowledge — because we’re talking a number of years ago — but we have a lot more information.
For example, the senior investigation police officer (CANIP) made an inspection of the tower shortly after the fire (in 2003) said that he had not been able to locate anything ‘fake’ at all.
CNN’s Richard Quest, visiting Milly Dowler’s parents, listens as Sally Dowler testifies in court this past week.
The Met Police spokesperson said the fire could not be ruled out.
“The fire could have been the spark in a long-running industrial operation that was being carried out on the rest of the building at the time,” the spokesperson said.
If the fire had been set by either of the ‘wrong people’ it could have slowed or even stopped the investigation, or it could have ruined the investigation altogether.
“For the last few days, police have spent a lot of time going through the evidence … and they’ve identified exactly the damage that was done to the building by the fire … and they’re trying to calculate the type of fire used and the timescale they may have burned it,” he said.
Before the fire, Milly’s phone messages had already been hacked. News International, the parent company of The News of the World, has previously admitted accessing their message records.