A FORMER police officer has denied there was a cover-up in the investigation into an unsolved murder linked to two of Britain’s worst serial killers.

The body of Eastbourne student Jessie Earl was discovered in dense undergrowth near Beachy Head in 1989 - nine years after she disappeared from her bedsit in in Upperton Gardens.

Senior officers at Sussex Police initially told the family her disappearance was not suspicious.

But in 2001, police launched a cold case review that concluded the 22-year-old art student had been murdered.

The former head of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team revealed at a new inquest into Ms Earl’s death, which began on Tuesday, that DNA has been checked against samples from Peter Tobin and David Fuller.

Scottish serial killer Tobin is serving life for the murders of three young women.

Ms Earl described meeting a middle-aged Scottish man on the Downs shortly before she disappeared.

Meanwhile, Fuller, who was known as the bedsit killer, will die in prison after he abused more than 100 female corpses and murdered two young women.

Both killers were living in the Kent and Sussex area when Jessie disappeared.

Former Sussex Police Detective Sergeant Anne Capon told the inquest: “It had always been my opinion Jessie had been murdered. Even in 1980, I believed she was on the Downs somewhere.

“My opinion was she had been murdered. I had no doubts.”

Retired former MCT head Emma Heater told the inquest that the original investigation looked nothing like how a murder investigation should be.

Despite acknowledging the police had been woefully inadequate, there was no cover up, she said.

Asked why a report dismissing her death as suicide and another review which revealed more details about her death were not disclosed to her family, the former officer said: “We disclosed the material which was asked for.

“There’s no cover up or anything like that.”

The death was declared a murder in 2000 by the Sussex Police Silk Report.

A review in 2009 included more details including possible leads, the inquest heard.

Asked why this was not given to the family when they were applying to the High Court to quash the original inquest, Heater said: “They had the Silk Report and I thought that was sufficient.”

Coroner James Healy-Pratt said: “It’s clear the family have been victim of a substantial miscarriage of justice.”

Stephen Kamlish, QC for the family, accused Sussex Police of ignoring repeated requests for information and failing to support the family application to have the original inquest verdict quashed.

He said: “I’ve been asked by the family to ask you; do you regret on behalf of the  Chief Constable that Sussex Police didn’t make its own application to quash the first inquest rather than leave the Earls at the end of their lives to achieve this?”

Former Detective Superintendent Heater said: “I’m not sure I can answer on behalf of the Chief Constable. It’s maybe my ignorance in going to the coroner and not the High Court.

“We will take learning from this.”