Police in Britain suspect that the former editors of the News of the World deleted millions of e-mails in connection with the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the newspaper and led to its demise.

The Guardian newspaper reported that Scotland Yard is probing this massive removal of correspondence, which was likely designed to block any police investigation.

According to reports, the archive of e-mails extends back to January 2005 and includes messages between NOTW editors, reporters and  private investigators. One of the alleged deletions occurred as recently as January of this year, when the police commenced their probe of phone hacking by the paper.

Such deletions of sensitive e-mails would contradict assertions by the edit staff that they have been cooperating with the police in the investigation.

Initially, News International denied that such an archive of e-mails even existed.

Retrieval of the e-mails would probably provide a bounty of incriminating information, especially for the various parties seeking to sue News International, the paper’s parent, for invasion of privacy and other charges.