THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART THREE: RETRIBUTION

September 8, 2018

 

Norfolk_series_head_03
WHEN THE TIMES and its chief investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk decided to intervene in a sensitive family care case last August, they did not realise the judiciary would not allow them to peddle a false narrative.

In August 2017 Norfolk wrote a sensational front page story carrying the headline “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care”. 

It soon became clear the story was a complete fabrication.

Norfolk purged his narrative of the central fact that the mother of the child is the daughter of practising Turkish Muslims.

In February this year the court ruled the mother was unfit to look after her daughter and gave the grandmother permanent custody of the little girl.

Both are now in Turkey.

The judgment in the case — finally obtained by Press Gang early yesterday — destroys any lingering credibility in Andrew Norfolk’s story.

The judgment justifies the first two parts of our series The Shsame of Andrew Norfolk: Crusade and  Hallelujah!

Press Gang was unable to write the story up yesterday.

We passed the judgment to Brian Cathcart, a founder of Hacked Off, who published a summary yesterday: ‘Muslim Fostering’ Times Journalism Utterly Discredited.

Now Press Gang examines some of the key points of the judgment.

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THE DECISION  to place the little girl with her grandmother was made on February 16 this year.

Judge Khatun Sapnara made the order in the East London Family Court following a 10 day hearing involving 15 witnesses. 

Andrew Norfolk, despite his intimate knowledge of the case, was absent throughout.

We emailed Norfolk this afternoon and asked him why he did not attend.

We asked if the reason he wasn’t in court was because he knew the hearing would destroy his story.

He had not replied by the time this article went to press.

No other journalist was in court — it was not until this week that the court finally released its judgment.

The court ordered that the little girl, who is now six, should live with her grandmother in her country of origin.

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INVASION OF PRIVACY
THE JUDGMENT is damning about the fact that the press were present when the little girl left her second Muslim foster carer in August 2017. The judge noted “very sadly, this had to be undertaken with police presence and assistance, because of the numbers of press in attendance at the foster carer’s address. The child did not have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye with her carers. It would have been entirely in her best interests to do so.” Press Gang understands that the only journalist who knew the address of the foster carer was Andrew Norfolk. Today we asked Andrew Norfolk if he and a Times photographer were present. We also asked for a comment about the judge’s criticism. There was no reply by the time this article went to press.  

Press Gang has previously revealed the grandmother is Turkish — the judgment merely says she is from a mainly Muslim country.

Both the little girl and her mother have dual British and Turkish passports. 

The court added that the mother’s physical contact with her daughter should be restricted to four times a year.

She is not allowed to stay overnight.

The father, a Russian national, is forbidden to have any face to face contact with the child.

He is allowed to talk to her on Skype. 

The judgment is silent about what happened to the mother’s older child who has also been the subject of family court proceedings.

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THE PICTURE of the mother that emerges from the judgment is bleak and disturbing.

Judge Sapnara “had no doubt that the mother had taken the course she had in these proceedings, driven by the natural desire to be reunited with her daughter.”

“On a subjective analysis she genuinely believes that the child will be better off in her care.”

“Sadly, in the court’s judgement that motivation was also tinged with a degree of wounded pride.”

The judge revealed that the 2017 incident that led to the child being taken into care was not the first incident where concerns had been raised.

In September 2012 the Foreign Office was contacted by the duty manager of a hotel in Bulgaria who was concerned about the mother and the little girl.

The judgment notes that “he suspected that the mother may be on drugs or alcohol and that the hotel room was not particularly fit for a young child.”

The mother has two convictions for drinking driving which “indicates that she makes poor decisions when she consumes alcohol.”

Tests revealed that the mother often drinks the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day.

Tests also revealed she was taking cocaine. 

The judge was stark: 

“The mother’s chronic and problematic use of alcohol coupled with her minimisation of such concerns gives rise to a risk of emotional harm by reason of the child being exposed to the mother’s alcohol use.”

“It also gives rise to risks of domestic violence which seem to be linked to the mother’s drinking.”

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THE JUDGMENT also makes it clear that an unnamed Russian national played a significant part in this story.

The Russian is said to be the father of the child.

His name is not on the child’s birth certificate and he did not take part in the proceedings.

He appears to have remained in Russia throughout the ten day hearing. 

The mother claimed:

“she had not had any contact with the … father since 2013 and she said that she had been unable to provide any contact details for him.”

But the judgement later adds

“The mother and the … father appeared to remain in an enmeshed relationship which appears to include a degree of financial control of the mother by [the] father.” 

The mother was legally aided throughout the care proceedings. 

The relationship between the mother and the father was turbulent.

The judge noted that it “had been characterised by incidents of domestic violence (some very serious) over a number of years …”

The decision to place the child was partly motivated because she might be present when the mother and father were together.

In these circumstances, the judge added:

” … there would be a real risk that the child may get caught up in the domestic violence and might be at risk of suffering physical and emotional harm which might be significant in its nature.”

It’s also clear she didn’t believe the mother’s claim not to have had any contact with the father since 2013:

” … the court was satisfied that it was quite apparent that he was aware of the proceedings and that he had been a significant presence on the periphery of the case.”

The judge added
 
“ …  he was concerned about the child with regard to her religious needs when she was in foster care.”

Press Gang today asked if this Russian had been one of Andrew Norfolk’s sources.  

There was no response by the time we went to press.  

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THIS SCANDAL is far from over.

Press Gang has asked IPSO, the press watchdog partly funded by The Times, to reopen our complaint against Andrew Norfolk.

This complaint is the only one out of more than 150 which claims that all of Norfolk’s articles on this issue were inaccurate.

Our complaint was rejected — even though part of it is identical to the complaint made by Tower Hamlets and upheld by IPSO.

We believe that the judgment released yesterday now places new information in the public domain that IPSO must consider.

There remain other issues which have yet to be resolved: 

— although the judgment makes it clear that the mother was unfit to look after her daughter, it is silent about the care provided by the two Muslim foster carers at the heart of the story.

It seems clear that the foster carers — despite the claims published by The Times — provided exemplary and loving care. 

The grandmother, who the court found to be an impressive witness, thanked them for the quality of their care.

— the judgment is also silent about Press Gang allegations that Andrew Norfolk doctored his account of an earlier court hearing which took place on 29 August 2017.

Norfolk claimed that the reason he and The Times did not disclose the Muslim background of the grandmother was due to their wish to protect the identity of the child. 

Norfolk claims he told the court he was not going to disclose the grandmother’s religious background.

We’re trying to get to the bottom of this.

Press Gang has also asked Norfolk if he distorted the judge’s words in this earlier hearing.

She made it clear that the court’s decision to place the child in the temporary care of her grandmother was based on the application of the law and “not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.” 

Norfolk, in his article, says she used the phrase “as a result of undue media involvement.” 

We’ve already put these points to Norfolk.

He did not reply.

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NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2.
The full summary of Judge Sapnara’s judgment can be found below.

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APPENDIX

Summary of the Judgment of Her Honour Judge Sapnara on 16th February 2018.

Background

The court gave judgment on 16th February 2018 following a 10 day final hearing in care proceedings instituted by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (‘the local authority’) pursuant to s.31 of the Children Act 1989 and in respect of the subject child AB (‘the child’) who was aged 6 at the time of the final hearing. The Court read extensive bundles of written material/evidence and also heard the oral evidence of fifteen live witnesses which included expert, professional (social workers and police) and lay witnesses. The child’s mother is CD (‘the mother’). She had the benefit of leading and junior counsel representation at this hearing. The child’s putative father is believed to be GH (‘the putative father’). He was not named on the child’s birth certificate and he had never been married to the mother. Therefore he did not have parental responsibility for the child. 

The child spent time in the care of two different foster carers before moving to live with her maternal grandmother (‘the maternal grandmother’), with the support of her maternal aunt (‘the maternal aunt’), towards the end of the summer of 2017. The child remained there at the time of the final hearing under an interim care order. Therefore, the local authority continued to share parental responsibility with the mother. The grandmother, the child and the maternal aunt lived together in the mother’s flat in London which the mother vacated to enable them all to live there. This had been the child’s home prior to removal and it was obviously therefore an environment with which the child was familiar. There was no dispute in this case that the child had a very warm and loving relationship with the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt and that she was very familiar with them.

The putative father is a Russian national. He did not play any part in the proceedings. The mother in her oral evidence, towards the end of the hearing, maintained that she had not had any contact with the putative father since 2013 and she said that she had been unable to provide any contact details for him. Therefore, he was not formally served with notice of the proceedings. He did not attend any hearing and was not represented. He did not seek to make any application to be joined to the proceedings or to be assessed as a carer for the child, nor to have any contact with the child. He filed no evidence. He remained in Russia as far as the court could ascertain. Whilst he had played no formal role the court was satisfied that it was quite apparent that he was aware of the proceedings and that he had been a significant presence on the periphery of the case. 

The local authority’s care plan recommended the placement of the child with the maternal grandmother under a legal framework which is the nearest equivalent to a special guardianship order as exists in the maternal grandmother’s country of origin which is a Muslim majority country. The local authority proposed in its care plan that there  should be direct contact between the mother and the child four times a year, following the recommendations of the court appointed Children’s Guardian. It also proposed that there be Skype contact between the child and the father.

The local authority’s position was supported by the court appointed Children’s Guardian. The maternal grandmother was not represented in the proceedings but her position was advanced by the local authority with whom she was ad idem.

The local authority invited the court to find that the threshold for the making of final orders was crossed as at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017. The local authority  asserted that as at that date the child had suffered, and was likely to suffer, significant harm and that such harm was attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given to her, if an order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give her. The broad areas of the local authority’s concerns were the mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol, neglect of the child’s needs and the child suffering emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive use of alcohol. 

The mother opposed the local authority’s applications. She did not accept that the threshold criteria had been crossed on the facts of the case and disputed all the findings sought by the local authority. She sought the immediate return of the child to her care. Initially her position had been that she wanted the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt to support her caring for the child in the UK. The maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt did not wish to do that and sought to return to their country of origin with the child as quickly as possible. By the time the mother came to give her oral evidence, she clarified that she was not opposed to a placement with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin in principle but only in the event that the child was not returned to her care. The mother was born and brought up in that country. Both the mother and the child have previously resided there and they each hold dual nationality passports for that country and also for the UK. 

The mother contended that the child had not suffered, nor was she at risk of suffering, significant harm owing to the care she had received from the mother. She stated that she had addressed her alcohol and drug misuse and believed that the child’s welfare would be best met by a return to the mother’s care and that the mother would be marginalised in her child’s life to the child’s detriment if the child went to live with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin. Therefore, the mother sought the immediate return of the child to her care. 

The mother’s case was that her relationship with her daughter was good whilst the child was in foster care and that in fact there was only a negative change when the child went to live with maternal grandmother. It formed no part of the mother’s case that the child would not be loved and well cared for by the maternal grandmother, nor that the child’s needs would not be met by the maternal grandmother. 

The maternal grandparents are Muslim. The maternal family members are educated and of a relatively affluent professional background.  The maternal grandmother chose to take an oath on the Qur’an before giving oral evidence. The grandparents say that they do not attend Mosque but they do pray at home. No issue has been raised about the grandmother’s ability to meet the child’s religious needs. The mother’s primary concern is that if the child were to live with the grandparents, her contact with the child would be at risk. The mother identifies as Christian. There is some evidence that the putative father is also of Christian belief and that he was concerned about the child with regard to her religious needs when she was in foster care.

The child was born in the UK but had also spent a lot of time with her maternal grandparents in their country of origin. Prior to coming to the UK in January 2017 the mother and child had been involved in extensive international travels and spent time in various countries. However the chronology of the movement of the mother and child across international borders and the reasons for doing so and the times that they did so was complicated and difficult for the court to establish. The local authority contends that between 2013 and 2017 the child spent significant periods of time travelling abroad with the mother and was cared for at other times by the maternal grandparents. The mother disputed some of the details in relation to this and maintained that at all times she was the child’s primary carer. 

In January 2017 the mother travelled to the UK with the child. On the morning of 2nd March 2017 the child was removed from the mother’s care under a police protection order following the mother’s arrest for being drunk in charge of a child in a bar in a hotel near the mother’s home. As a consequence, the local authority was required to find an emergency foster placement for the child. The child was made subject to an emergency protection order on 3rd March 2017. An interim care order was made on 10th March 2017 by a judge of the East London Family Court. 

Once removed from the mother’s care the child was place in a foster placement by the local authority. That decision, together with the second move of placement to another foster care placement, has been the subject of intense media coverage and there has been a significant media presence at various hearings of this matter. The nature of those placements and the child’s experiences and treatment within them together with the circumstances of the mother’s arrest have generated significant press interest in, and reporting of, the case. Both foster carers were Muslim. Some of the concerns about the foster carers and their ability to meet the child’s religious, cultural and linguistic needs, as reported in the press, had been either raised by the mother prior to the media reports or otherwise later adopted by her. The mother, her friends and a contact supervisor have been identified in the press as the source of the media reports. On the Guardian’s behalf, in particular, concern was expressed about the mother’s insight into the child’s needs in engaging in this conduct. There has been some evidence at this hearing that the concerns about those needs being met by the foster carers may have come from the father also. 

The court made a case management order at an earlier stage of the proceedings allowing the local authority to release an alternative narrative to the matters that had been reported in the press and to place those in the public domain by 1st November 2017. There had been an internal inquiry by the local authority on the issues raised in the press and it was the local authority’s conclusion that much of that reporting particularly as to the issues arising from the child’s foster placements, had been inaccurate, distorted and unfair. 

At the hearing on 2nd October 2017, as at previous hearings, journalists from a number of news outlets were present; their presence was not opposed by any party. The Times Newspaper Ltd was present and represented by counsel. At that hearing, and each subsequent hearing, the court’s case management orders recorded as follows:

AND UPON the Court reaffirming the importance of the press reporting in accordance with the established guidance and to do so with skill and proper judgment so as not to undermine the welfare of the child, either through direct identification or jigsaw identification.

No accredited member of the press attended at the final hearing. The court indicated that it had been informed by the Child’s Guardian that when the child was moved from her second foster placement to be placed in the care of the maternal grandmother at the end of August 2017 that, very sadly, this had to be undertaken with police presence and assistance, because of the numbers of press in attendance at the foster carer’s address. The child did not have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye with her carers. It would have been entirely in her best interests to do so. If all that is correct, and the court had no reason to conclude otherwise, the court could not see how such circumstances could be regarded as being in the child’s best interests. As observed by the Child’s Guardian, most unfortunately and through no fault or choice of her own, details of the child’s private life are in the public domain and will continue to exist online well into the future. 

In August 2013 the mother pleaded guilty to an earlier offence of battery against a security officer at a London casino after she had been drinking. 

In July 2017, the mother was convicted at a Magistrates’ Court of being drunk in charge of a child on 2nd March 2017. However, in October 2017 the mother’s appeal against such conviction was allowed at the Crown Court. 

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The court’s threshold findings

The court found that at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017 (being the day the child was removed by the police using their protection powers), pursuant to s.31(2) of the children Act 1989, the child had suffered and was likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm suffered or likely to be suffered is attributable to the care given her or likely to be given to her if an order was not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give to her.

The court made the following specific findings as sought by the local authority: 

1

On 2.03.2017 the child was at risk of suffering the neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

2

On the morning of 02.03.2017 the mother had been drinking with a male friend throughout the night since 01.03.2017 in the bar of a hotel whilst the child was in the mother’s care. Furthermore, the court found that the mother had knowingly presented misleading evidence, including the evidence of an expert toxicologist, in support of her appeal in the Crown Court. This expert reported without knowledge of the results of the mother’s hair strand tests which showed positive for cocaine and chronic and excessive use of alcohol by the mother for the highly relevant period of September 2016- May 2017

3

The hotel staff called the police because they were concerned about the mother’s behaviour.

4

The police attended the hotel bar and observed that the mother and her friend were both highly intoxicated.

5

The mother’s friend was so intoxicated that, when he was asked to stand up by the police, he fell over.

6

The child was removed by the police using their powers of protection.

7

The mother was arrested and released the following day on 03.03.2017.

8

On 03.03.2017 the mother attended the local authority’s offices to meet with members of the social work team and smelt strongly of alcohol.

9

The mother’s intoxicated state impaired her ability to safeguard and meet the child’s care needs, placing the child at risk of neglect and physical harm. 

10

It would also have been emotionally troubling for the child to witness this intoxicated behaviour of her mother and the mother’s friend.

11

The child was at risk of suffering the further neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

— the incident on 02.03.2017 is the second time such an incident has been reported. On 24.09.2012 the Foreign Office received a referral from the duty manager of a hotel in Bulgaria expressing concerns about the mother’s wellbeing. The duty manager reported that he suspected that the mother may be on drugs or alcohol and that the hotel room was not particularly fit for a young child.

— the mother has pleaded guilty to the charge of driving a motor vehicle with excessive alcohol on 2 separate occasions; 16.03.08 and 24.04.09. This indicates that she makes poor decisions when she consumes alcohol.

— the mother tested positive for cocaethylene, a cocaine metabolite that was detected during the period from September 2016 to March 2017. The presence of the metabolite indicates the combined use of cocaine with alcohol. 

— hair strand test results dated 07.04.2017 shows the mother engaged in the excessive chronic consumption of alcohol equivalent to a bottle of wine per day.

— liver Function and CDT Blood Tests carried out in respect of the mother on 13.04.2017 indicated a “recent excessive alcohol intake”.

— a SCRAM bracelet detected the consumption of alcohol between the 13.05.2017 to14.05.2017, within 3 days of the bracelet being fitted.

12

The mother’s chronic and problematic use of alcohol coupled with her minimisation of such concerns gives rise to a risk of emotional harm by reason of the child being exposed to the mother’s alcohol use. It also gives rise to risks of domestic violence which seem to be linked to the mother’s drinking.

13

The mother’s use of alcohol amounted to a sustained pattern of problematic drinking rather than a one off incident of such problematic drinking on 1st – 2nd March 2017.

14

The mother and the putative father appeared to remain in an enmeshed relationship which appears to include a degree of financial control of the mother by putative father. 

15

The relationship between the mother and putative father had been characterised by incidents of domestic violence (some very serious) over a number of years such that if she and the putative father were together and the child were to be present there would be a real risk that the child may get caught up in the domestic violence and might be at risk of suffering physical and emotional harm which might be significant in its nature. 

16

That in the period between April 2012 and December 2016, while the child was primarily cared for by the maternal grandmother, she also spent significant periods of time with her mother and that during those periods of time the child and the mother visited the father on a number of occasions and the child was otherwise exposed to disruption arising out of the mother’s lifestyle which included changes of carers, different partners with whom the mother formed intense  relationships very quickly and other changes in her life. Were the child to be returned to the care of the mother there would be a risk that such pattern would continue.

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The court’s welfare findings.

The court had no doubt that the mother had taken the course she had in these proceedings, driven by the natural desire to be reunited with her daughter. On a subjective analysis she genuinely believes that the child will be better off in her care. Sadly, in the court’s judgement that motivation was also tinged with a degree of wounded pride. The mother’s position was not borne out on an objective assessment of the evidence and in light of the court’s threshold findings. 

The court concluded that the grandmother loves her daughter and is committed to her. It is likely that the maternal family have felt frustrated, disappointed and saddened by the mother’s conduct at times in the past, but the court was struck by what it perceived to be a depth of love for the mother and the child and a commitment to them by the grandmother and maternal family over the years despite the cost to them at times. 

The child had experienced the grandmother as primary carer on many occasions and for lengthy periods. It is clear that the grandmother understands the importance of the mother to the child and the court was satisfied that the grandmother was not seeking to supplant the mother as the child calls her own mother ‘mummy’. The court could see no basis for concluding that the grandmother would deny contact or excise the mother or the putative father from the child’s life. The court was further satisfied that the maternal aunt would protect the child’s interests. 

A placement away from the mother would significantly reduce the current levels of contact between the child and her mother. The child may well suffer emotional harm as a result, but the court was satisfied that this was likely to be in the short term and would be ameliorated by the quality of the care she would receive form the grandmother and the ongoing contact she would have with the mother. 

Addressing the welfare checklist in s.1 of the Children Act 1989 the court concluded that the mother’s capacity to provide adequate and appropriate care for the child long term is severely compromised and the child would be placed at risk of significant harm if returned to her care. The child’s welfare requires that the court override the fact that the mother did not consent to the orders proposed by the local authority. The court further concluded that there was no level of realistic support which could be put in place continuously to manage the risks identified by the court. 

The court was satisfied that the child’s global needs would be met by the maternal grandparents. The child loved her grandmother and was well attached to her. The child would be returning to a familiar carer and a familiar environment. 

Orders. 

The court approved the placement of the child with the maternal grandparents pursuant to a Special Guardianship Order made in the UK on 16th February 2018. The court directed that the maternal family should obtain from the family court in their country of origin, orders mirroring the orders of the UK courts.

The court further directed that:

— neither the mother nor the putative father (who the mother has stated is the father of the child) should remove the child from the care and control of the maternal grandparents.

— the putative father shall not have any face to face contact with child (save through Skype calls involving his own mother which are to be supervised by the maternal grandmother).

— the mother’s contact to the child shall be supervised by the maternal grandmother or the maternal grandfather, shall take place only at the home of the maternal grandparents 4 times per year (for 2 or 3 consecutive days on each occasion of contact) and shall not include the mother staying overnight with the child.

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THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK: JUDGMENT

September 7, 2018
Andrew Norfolk

JUDGED
ANDREW NORFOLK, chief investigative reporter for The Times, published a story so one-sided Press Gang condemns it as rogue journalism. His narrative is comprehensively destroyed in the court ruling released today. 
Photo: Graham Turner fro The Guardian

EARLIER TODAY Press Gang obtained the final judgment in the case involving the little girl at the centre of Andrew Norfolk’s article in The Times headed “Christian child forced to live with Muslim foster carers”.

Judge Khatun Sapnara delivered an explosive judgment which fatally undermines the narrative advanced by Norfolk, the paper’s chief investigative reporter, and approved by editor John Witherow.

The judgment justifies the first two parts of our series The Shame of Andrew Norfolk: Crusade and  Hallelujah!

The summary deserves to be read in full and Press Gang makes it available here in full. 

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Summary of the Judgment of Her Honour Judge Sapnara on 16th February 2018.

Background

The court gave judgment on 16th February 2018 following a 10 day final hearing in care proceedings instituted by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (‘the local authority’) pursuant to s.31 of the Children Act 1989 and in respect of the subject child AB (‘the child’) who was aged 6 at the time of the final hearing. The Court read extensive bundles of written material/evidence and also heard the oral evidence of fifteen live witnesses which included expert, professional (social workers and police) and lay witnesses. The child’s mother is CD (‘the mother’). She had the benefit of leading and junior counsel representation at this hearing. The child’s putative father is believed to be GH (‘the putative father’). He was not named on the child’s birth certificate and he had never been married to the mother. Therefore he did not have parental responsibility for the child. 

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JUDGE KHATUN SAPNARA
THE EAST LONDON Family Court judge has made sure that the false narrative spun by Andrew Norfolk and The Times was challenged. 

The child spent time in the care of two different foster carers before moving to live with her maternal grandmother (‘the maternal grandmother’), with the support of her maternal aunt (‘the maternal aunt’), towards the end of the summer of 2017. The child remained there at the time of the final hearing under an interim care order. Therefore, the local authority continued to share parental responsibility with the mother. The grandmother, the child and the maternal aunt lived together in the mother’s flat in London which the mother vacated to enable them all to live there. This had been the child’s home prior to removal and it was obviously therefore an environment with which the child was familiar. There was no dispute in this case that the child had a very warm and loving relationship with the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt and that she was very familiar with them.

The putative father is a Russian national. He did not play any part in the proceedings. The mother in her oral evidence, towards the end of the hearing, maintained that she had not had any contact with the putative father since 2013 and she said that she had been unable to provide any contact details for him. Therefore, he was not formally served with notice of the proceedings. He did not attend any hearing and was not represented. He did not seek to make any application to be joined to the proceedings or to be assessed as a carer for the child, nor to have any contact with the child. He filed no evidence. He remained in Russia as far as the court could ascertain. Whilst he had played no formal role the court was satisfied that it was quite apparent that he was aware of the proceedings and that he had been a significant presence on the periphery of the case. 

The local authority’s care plan recommended the placement of the child with the maternal grandmother under a legal framework which is the nearest equivalent to a special guardianship order as exists in the maternal grandmother’s country of origin which is a Muslim majority country. The local authority proposed in its care plan that there  should be direct contact between the mother and the child four times a year, following the recommendations of the court appointed Children’s Guardian. It also proposed that there be Skype contact between the child and the father.

The local authority’s position was supported by the court appointed Children’s Guardian. The maternal grandmother was not represented in the proceedings but her position was advanced by the local authority with whom she was ad idem.

The local authority invited the court to find that the threshold for the making of final orders was crossed as at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017. The local authority  asserted that as at that date the child had suffered, and was likely to suffer, significant harm and that such harm was attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given to her, if an order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give her. The broad areas of the local authority’s concerns were the mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol, neglect of the child’s needs and the child suffering emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive use of alcohol. 

The mother opposed the local authority’s applications. She did not accept that the threshold criteria had been crossed on the facts of the case and disputed all the findings sought by the local authority. She sought the immediate return of the child to her care. Initially her position had been that she wanted the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt to support her caring for the child in the UK. The maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt did not wish to do that and sought to return to their country of origin with the child as quickly as possible. By the time the mother came to give her oral evidence, she clarified that she was not opposed to a placement with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin in principle but only in the event that the child was not returned to her care. The mother was born and brought up in that country. Both the mother and the child have previously resided there and they each hold dual nationality passports for that country and also for the UK. 

The mother contended that the child had not suffered, nor was she at risk of suffering, significant harm owing to the care she had received from the mother. She stated that she had addressed her alcohol and drug misuse and believed that the child’s welfare would be best met by a return to the mother’s care and that the mother would be marginalised in her child’s life to the child’s detriment if the child went to live with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin. Therefore, the mother sought the immediate return of the child to her care. 

The mother’s case was that her relationship with her daughter was good whilst the child was in foster care and that in fact there was only a negative change when the child went to live with maternal grandmother. It formed no part of the mother’s case that the child would not be loved and well cared for by the maternal grandmother, nor that the child’s needs would not be met by the maternal grandmother. 

The maternal grandparents are Muslim. The maternal family members are educated and of a relatively affluent professional background.  The maternal grandmother chose to take an oath on the Qur’an before giving oral evidence. The grandparents say that they do not attend Mosque but they do pray at home. No issue has been raised about the grandmother’s ability to meet the child’s religious needs. The mother’s primary concern is that if the child were to live with the grandparents, her contact with the child would be at risk. The mother identifies as Christian. There is some evidence that the putative father is also of Christian belief and that he was concerned about the child with regard to her religious needs when she was in foster care.

The child was born in the UK but had also spent a lot of time with her maternal grandparents in their country of origin. Prior to coming to the UK in January 2017 the mother and child had been involved in extensive international travels and spent time in various countries. However the chronology of the movement of the mother and child across international borders and the reasons for doing so and the times that they did so was complicated and difficult for the court to establish. The local authority contends that between 2013 and 2017 the child spent significant periods of time travelling abroad with the mother and was cared for at other times by the maternal grandparents. The mother disputed some of the details in relation to this and maintained that at all times she was the child’s primary carer. 

In January 2017 the mother travelled to the UK with the child. On the morning of 2nd March 2017 the child was removed from the mother’s care under a police protection order following the mother’s arrest for being drunk in charge of a child in a bar in a hotel near the mother’s home. As a consequence, the local authority was required to find an emergency foster placement for the child. The child was made subject to an emergency protection order on 3rd March 2017. An interim care order was made on 10th March 2017 by a judge of the East London Family Court. 

Once removed from the mother’s care the child was place in a foster placement by the local authority. That decision, together with the second move of placement to another foster care placement, has been the subject of intense media coverage and there has been a significant media presence at various hearings of this matter. The nature of those placements and the child’s experiences and treatment within them together with the circumstances of the mother’s arrest have generated significant press interest in, and reporting of, the case. Both foster carers were Muslim. Some of the concerns about the foster carers and their ability to meet the child’s religious, cultural and linguistic needs, as reported in the press, had been either raised by the mother prior to the media reports or otherwise later adopted by her. The mother, her friends and a contact supervisor have been identified in the press as the source of the media reports. On the Guardian’s behalf, in particular, concern was expressed about the mother’s insight into the child’s needs in engaging in this conduct. There has been some evidence at this hearing that the concerns about those needs being met by the foster carers may have come from the father also. 

The court made a case management order at an earlier stage of the proceedings allowing the local authority to release an alternative narrative to the matters that had been reported in the press and to place those in the public domain by 1st November 2017. There had been an internal inquiry by the local authority on the issues raised in the press and it was the local authority’s conclusion that much of that reporting particularly as to the issues arising from the child’s foster placements, had been inaccurate, distorted and unfair. 

At the hearing on 2nd October 2017, as at previous hearings, journalists from a number of news outlets were present; their presence was not opposed by any party. The Times Newspaper Ltd was present and represented by counsel. At that hearing, and each subsequent hearing, the court’s case management orders recorded as follows:

AND UPON the Court reaffirming the importance of the press reporting in accordance with the established guidance and to do so with skill and proper judgment so as not to undermine the welfare of the child, either through direct identification or jigsaw identification.

No accredited member of the press attended at the final hearing. The court indicated that it had been informed by the Child’s Guardian that when the child was moved from her second foster placement to be placed in the care of the maternal grandmother at the end of August 2017 that, very sadly, this had to be undertaken with police presence and assistance, because of the numbers of press in attendance at the foster carer’s address. The child did not have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye with her carers. It would have been entirely in her best interests to do so. If all that is correct, and the court had no reason to conclude otherwise, the court could not see how such circumstances could be regarded as being in the child’s best interests. As observed by the Child’s Guardian, most unfortunately and through no fault or choice of her own, details of the child’s private life are in the public domain and will continue to exist online well into the future. 

In August 2013 the mother pleaded guilty to an earlier offence of battery against a security officer at a London casino after she had been drinking. 

In July 2017, the mother was convicted at a Magistrates’ Court of being drunk in charge of a child on 2nd March 2017. However, in October 2017 the mother’s appeal against such conviction was allowed at the Crown Court. 

♦♦♦

The court’s threshold findings

The court found that at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017 (being the day the child was removed by the police using their protection powers), pursuant to s.31(2) of the children Act 1989, the child had suffered and was likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm suffered or likely to be suffered is attributable to the care given her or likely to be given to her if an order was not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give to her.

The court made the following specific findings as sought by the local authority: 

1

On 2.03.2017 the child was at risk of suffering the neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

2

On the morning of 02.03.2017 the mother had been drinking with a male friend throughout the night since 01.03.2017 in the bar of a hotel whilst the child was in the mother’s care. Furthermore, the court found that the mother had knowingly presented misleading evidence, including the evidence of an expert toxicologist, in support of her appeal in the Crown Court. This expert reported without knowledge of the results of the mother’s hair strand tests which showed positive for cocaine and chronic and excessive use of alcohol by the mother for the highly relevant period of September 2016- May 2017

3

The hotel staff called the police because they were concerned about the mother’s behaviour.

4

The police attended the hotel bar and observed that the mother and her friend were both highly intoxicated.

5

The mother’s friend was so intoxicated that, when he was asked to stand up by the police, he fell over.

6

The child was removed by the police using their powers of protection.

7

The mother was arrested and released the following day on 03.03.2017.

8

On 03.03.2017 the mother attended the local authority’s offices to meet with members of the social work team and smelt strongly of alcohol.

9

The mother’s intoxicated state impaired her ability to safeguard and meet the child’s care needs, placing the child at risk of neglect and physical harm.

10

It would also have been emotionally troubling for the child to witness this intoxicated behaviour of her mother and the mother’s friend.

11

The child was at risk of suffering the further neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

— the incident on 02.03.2017 is the second time such an incident has been reported. On 24.09.2012 the Foreign Office received a referral from the duty manager of a hotel in Bulgaria expressing concerns about the mother’s wellbeing. The duty manager reported that he suspected that the mother may be on drugs or alcohol and that the hotel room was not particularly fit for a young child.

— the mother has pleaded guilty to the charge of driving a motor vehicle with excessive alcohol on 2 separate occasions; 16.03.08 and 24.04.09. This indicates that she makes poor decisions when she consumes alcohol.

— the mother tested positive for cocaethylene, a cocaine metabolite that was detected during the period from September 2016 to March 2017. The presence of the metabolite indicates the combined use of cocaine with alcohol. 

— hair strand test results dated 07.04.2017 shows the mother engaged in the excessive chronic consumption of alcohol equivalent to a bottle of wine per day.

— liver Function and CDT Blood Tests carried out in respect of the mother on 13.04.2017 indicated a “recent excessive alcohol intake”.

— a SCRAM bracelet detected the consumption of alcohol between the 13.05.2017 to14.05.2017, within 3 days of the bracelet being fitted.

12

The mother’s chronic and problematic use of alcohol coupled with her minimisation of such concerns gives rise to a risk of emotional harm by reason of the child being exposed to the mother’s alcohol use. It also gives rise to risks of domestic violence which seem to be linked to the mother’s drinking.

13

The mother’s use of alcohol amounted to a sustained pattern of problematic drinking rather than a one off incident of such problematic drinking on 1st – 2nd March 2017.

14

The mother and the putative father appeared to remain in an enmeshed relationship which appears to include a degree of financial control of the mother by putative father.

15

The relationship between the mother and putative father had been characterised by incidents of domestic violence (some very serious) over a number of years such that if she and the putative father were together and the child were to be present there would be a real risk that the child may get caught up in the domestic violence and might be at risk of suffering physical and emotional harm which might be significant in its nature.

16

That in the period between April 2012 and December 2016, while the child was primarily cared for by the maternal grandmother, she also spent significant periods of time with her mother and that during those periods of time the child and the mother visited the father on a number of occasions and the child was otherwise exposed to disruption arising out of the mother’s lifestyle which included changes of carers, different partners with whom the mother formed intense  relationships very quickly and other changes in her life. Were the child to be returned to the care of the mother there would be a risk that such pattern would continue.

♦♦♦

The court’s welfare findings.

The court had no doubt that the mother had taken the course she had in these proceedings, driven by the natural desire to be reunited with her daughter. On a subjective analysis she genuinely believes that the child will be better off in her care. Sadly, in the court’s judgement that motivation was also tinged with a degree of wounded pride. The mother’s position was not borne out on an objective assessment of the evidence and in light of the court’s threshold findings. 

The court concluded that the grandmother loves her daughter and is committed to her. It is likely that the maternal family have felt frustrated, disappointed and saddened by the mother’s conduct at times in the past, but the court was struck by what it perceived to be a depth of love for the mother and the child and a commitment to them by the grandmother and maternal family over the years despite the cost to them at times. 

The child had experienced the grandmother as primary carer on many occasions and for lengthy periods. It is clear that the grandmother understands the importance of the mother to the child and the court was satisfied that the grandmother was not seeking to supplant the mother as the child calls her own mother ‘mummy’. The court could see no basis for concluding that the grandmother would deny contact or excise the mother or the putative father from the child’s life. The court was further satisfied that the maternal aunt would protect the child’s interests. 

A placement away from the mother would significantly reduce the current levels of contact between the child and her mother. The child may well suffer emotional harm as a result, but the court was satisfied that this was likely to be in the short term and would be ameliorated by the quality of the care she would receive form the grandmother and the ongoing contact she would have with the mother. 

Addressing the welfare checklist in s.1 of the Children Act 1989 the court concluded that the mother’s capacity to provide adequate and appropriate care for the child long term is severely compromised and the child would be placed at risk of significant harm if returned to her care. The child’s welfare requires that the court override the fact that the mother did not consent to the orders proposed by the local authority. The court further concluded that there was no level of realistic support which could be put in place continuously to manage the risks identified by the court. 

The court was satisfied that the child’s global needs would be met by the maternal grandparents. The child loved her grandmother and was well attached to her. The child would be returning to a familiar carer and a familiar environment. 

Orders. 

The court approved the placement of the child with the maternal grandparents pursuant to a Special Guardianship Order made in the UK on 16th February 2018. The court directed that the maternal family should obtain from the family court in their country of origin, orders mirroring the orders of the UK courts.

The court further directed that:

— neither the mother nor the putative father (who the mother has stated is the father of the child) should remove the child from the care and control of the maternal grandparents.

— the putative father shall not have any face to face contact with child (save through Skype calls involving his own mother which are to be supervised by the maternal grandmother).

— the mother’s contact to the child shall be supervised by the maternal grandmother or the maternal grandfather, shall take place only at the home of the maternal grandparents 4 times per year (for 2 or 3 consecutive days on each occasion of contact) and shall not include the mother staying overnight with the child.

♦♦♦

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THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART TWO: HALLELUJAH!

August 30, 2018

 

Norfolk_series_head_02
A YEAR ago today The Times declared victory in its battle to save a Christian child from Muslim foster carers.

It triumphantly reported the decision of the family court to return the child to her grandmother.

The paper boasted:

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

But storm clouds were brewing.

image

EXCLUSIVE
CHILD GOES TO TURKISH GRANDMOTHER
Press Gang can today reveal that the child at the centre of The Times crusade has gone to live with her Muslim grandmother in Turkey on a permanent basis. The grandmother’s Muslim background failed to make its way into any of reporter Andrew Norfolk’s articles. The decision of the East London Family Court to grant long-term custody is believed to be against the wishes of the mother. This means the mother’s attempt to use Andrew Norfolk and The Times to force the court to give her child back to her has failed.

The court was about to publish its own version of events.

In a devastating statement, the court demolished Andrew Norfolk’s story — and showed his narrative to be little more than a crude anti-Muslim smear.

♦♦♦

WHEN THE TIMES published its dramatic “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” story on 28 August 2017, its chief investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk knew he was on dangerous ground.

The only way he could justify the piece was to present a grossly distorted version of events.

His story left out the fact that there would be a court hearing the next day — and that the Muslim foster care would come to an end.

Andrew Norfolk

ANDREW NORFOLK 
THE CHIEF investigative reporter for The Times, Andrew Norfolk reported that a Tower Hamlets social services supervisor said the little girl “begged” not to be returned to her foster carer because “they don’t speak English”. Norfolk also reported allegations that foster carers had tried to subvert the child’s Christian faith. It wasn’t until the East London Family Court intervened that the real story emerged …
Photo: Graham Turner / The Guardian

He also left out the fact that the mother is the daughter of Muslim parents.

At this point he was banking on two factors to keep his narrative on track.

The first was that he was almost certain to be the only reporter present at the hearing on August 29.

This would allow him to publish a sanitised version of the proceedings — and allow The Times to claim his crusading reporting had saved the child. 

Secondly, he was expecting the court to order that the child should live with her grandmother — and say little more than that.

These were to prove disastrous miscalculations.

Norfolk didn’t realise the court had already decided to take on The Times … 

♦♦♦

AUGUST 29 could not have started better for Norfolk.

When he arrived at the East London Family Court security staff dramatically refused him entry.

It took the intervention of Judge Khatun Sapnara to allow him to enter the courtroom. 

Norfolk was able to report the next day:

Security staff at the court, where a case hearing took place yesterday morning, ordered a Times journalist to leave the building and threatened an escorted removal by security guards unless the reporter left voluntarily.

When Judge Sapnara was informed of the newspaper’s wish to attend the hearing, the reporter was readmitted.

Norfolk was the only reporter who filed a report on the proceedings. 

Norfolk’s article, published the next day (August 30), was headed:

Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home

In fact, the foster care was due to end anyway.

All parties had already agreed that the child should go to live with her grandmother. 

But it was the sub-head that mattered:

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

The Times wanted readers to be in no doubt that the verdict was a triumph for the crusading journalism of Andrew Norfolk. 

The first three paragraphs continued the narrative of the native English-speaking child forced to live with Muslim foster carers:

A girl at the centre of a care dispute was removed from her Muslim foster parents yesterday and reunited with her family as a judge urged councils to seek “culturally matched placements” for vulnerable children.

The five-year-old, a native English speaker from a Christian family, was taken to her grandmother’s home after a court ruled that she should not remain in the placement organised by the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Judge Khatun Sapnara, a practising Muslim, said it was in the girl’s best interests to live with a family member who could keep her safe, promote her welfare and meet her needs “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion”. The judge ordered the council to conduct an urgent investigation into issues reported by The Times, saying that the newspaper had acted responsibly in raising “very concerning” matters of “legitimate public interest”.

But once again, Andrew Norfolk was using the purge-and-deceive device he’d applied to his earlier articles.

During the proceedings, it was made clear that the grandmother, although non-practising, was from a Muslim background.

It was also clear that she was a foreign national and that her English was so poor that documents had to be translated into her mother tongue.

(Today, Press Gang also reveals the grandmother is actually from Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country.)

Norfolk didn’t report these sensational revelations.

He had to purge them or risk fatally undermining his narrative.

Remarkably, he and The Times later tried to explain away their decision not to mention the grandmother’s Muslim background.

In a submission to the press watchdog IPSO, The Times said that its approach to this article:

“was governed by its obligation not to publish any details which might identify the child.”

It claimed that Andrew Norfolk told the court that The Times:

“would not be publishing details of the grandmother’s religious and ethnic heritage, so as to avoid any risk of identification.”

DIRBYN_XoAALCx8

HYPOCRISY
ANDREW NORFOLK and The Times claimed that the reason the paper did not report the Muslim background of the grandmother was its concern not to publish anything which would reveal the child’s identity. Yet the paper had already published an actual picture of the little girl.

The submission said that “neither the judge nor [Tower Hamlets] demurred at that proposal”.

The paper added that the court later:

“put into the public domain some information about the family background which it had not expected to have been able to publish.”

Norfolk also deceived readers when he added the comment, buried deep in his article:

Judge Sapnara said her decision to order the child’s removal from foster care was not taken “as a result of undue media involvement”. “It is taken because of the evidence available to the court today, that the grandmother is an appropriate carer for the child,” she said.

What he didn’t know was that Judge Sapnara — perhaps expecting Norfolk to present a distorted version of the proceedings — had decided to make an unusual and decisive intervention.

If Norfolk and The Times would not tell readers the real background to the case, then the court would.

The next day a dramatic eight page statement was released.

It is highly unusual for a judge to order such a comprehensive statement to be published — and with such speed.

It meant that, as people were reading Andrew Norfolk’s distorted report of the hearing, they would be able to compare it to the court’s version of events. 

The statement — its full title is Case Management Order No 7 — noted:

“the court have given permission for an anonymised version of this order to be published”.

The order stated:

“Documents including the assessment of the maternal grandparents state that they are of a Muslim background but are non-practising.”

The order stated bluntly:

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court makes it clear that the decision to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.”

Careful readers will notice there’s a significant difference between the court’s version of what happened and Andrew Norfolk’s

In his report, Norfolk added the word “undue”.

The addition of “undue” implies that his reporting had some influence when Judge Sapnara’s statement makes it clear there was none. 

Last night Press Gang asked Andrew Norfolk and The Times about this discrepancy.

We also asked them about the failure to mention the Muslim background of the grandmother. 

They did not reply.

♦♦♦

The intervention of the court was a disaster for Andrew Norfolk and The Times.

The Case Management Order, which confirmed that the child would go to live with her grandmother, hammered Norfolk’s narrative.

It stated:

— the child’s court appointed guardian had “no concerns as to the child’s welfare and she reports that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer”

—  Tower Hamlets proposed that the child “remains in the care of the grandmother long term. The mother opposes this.”

5fc99c58-8ce9-11e7-a5d5-0066a735a5c3

JUDGE KHATUN SAPNARA
THE TIMES reported that the Bangladeshi-born judge had “praised” Andrew Norfolk for “exposing” Tower Hamlets’ “failure”. The press watchdog IPSO later ruled that this was “inaccurate”. The judge did no such thing … 

The Case Management Order continued:

— “the mother has confirmed that she did not disclose documents, confidential to this case, to the press”

— the mother must reveal “the documents from the private law proceedings relating to her older child … from Guildford Family Court”

— the mother’s solicitors are permitted to submit “segmented hair strand test results, to test for cocaine covering the last three months …”

—  the mother’s solicitors are also permitted to submit “segmented hair strand and liver function test results, in respect of alcohol, covering the last six months …”

The court also ordered Tower Hamlets to prepare a statement about the allegations made by the mother against the foster carers.

This statement, published two months later, was to inflict further damage on Andrew Norfolk’s narrative.

As Press Gang has already reported in The Shame Of Andrew Norfolk: Crusade, this document was agreed between the legal teams of Tower Hamlets and the mother.

It recorded that the grandmother:

 “… has been distressed and angered by the allegations against the foster carers which she has said were false and lies.”

These allegations were, of course, the ones made by her daughter and reported by Andrew Norfolk.

The statement added that the grandmother:

“has a good relationship with the carers and is grateful for the excellent care she says that they have provided to the child.”

The child told the grandmother that she:

“is missing the foster carer and has asked … if she can have contact with the family.”

♦♦♦

THE INTERVENTION by the court was highly damaging to the reputation of Andrew Norfolk.

Despite these developments, The Times continued to defend his reporting and did not apologise for its articles.

But another problem was brewing.

More than 150 complaints had been made about Andrew Norfolk’s reports to the press watchdog IPSO.

IPSO brushed all of these aside — except for one.

Tower Hamlets complained about The Times headline

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

And IPSO finally ruled that this claim was inaccurate.

The watchdog forced The Times to publish a humiliating ruling — and flag it up on the front page.

The next instalment of The Shame Of Andrew Norfolk tells the inside story of the desperate attempts by The Times to ward off  this damning verdict. 

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2
Andrew Norfolk’s third article is added as an Appendix because The Times operates a paywall. 

♦♦♦

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♦♦♦

APPENDIX

THE TIMES THIRD ARTICLE 
30 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEADLINE

Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home

SUB-HEAD

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

PICTURE CAPTION
In England 84 per cent of foster carers are white, as are 77 per cent of fostered children

A girl at the centre of a care dispute was removed from her Muslim foster parents yesterday and reunited with her family as a judge urged councils to seek “culturally matched placements” for vulnerable children.

The five-year-old, a native English speaker from a Christian family, was taken to her grandmother’s home after a court ruled that she should not remain in the placement organised by the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Judge Khatun Sapnara, a practising Muslim, said it was in the girl’s best interests to live with a family member who could keep her safe, promote her welfare and meet her needs “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion”. The judge ordered the council to conduct an urgent investigation into issues reported by The Times, saying that the newspaper had acted responsibly in raising “very concerning” matters of “legitimate public interest”.

Friends of the child’s family said that they were hugely relieved by the decision to move her from foster placements where all was “foreign and un- familiar” into surroundings where she would feel “much more at home”.

When The Times told Tower Hamlets last week of its intention to reveal the council’s decision to place a white British child with a family whose culture, faith and primary language were alien, the local authority tried to block the story. It contacted the East London family court, where the girl’s case was the subject of care proceedings, and told Judge Sapnara that confidential court documents had been unlawfully leaked and publication of an article would be an offence.

Security staff at the court, where a case hearing took place yesterday morning, ordered a Times journalist to leave the building and threatened an escorted removal by security guards unless the reporter left voluntarily. When Judge Sapnara was informed of the newspaper’s wish to attend the hearing, the reporter was readmitted.

Earlier this week, the newspaper revealed that the child, who was taken into care in March, initially spent four months in a foster home where, she said, the family often did not speak English at home and encouraged her to learn Arabic.

Social services reports noted that she was tearful and distressed when she was returned to the home. For the past two months she has been in the care of a second Muslim couple, where she spoke of regularly eating meals on the floor. In both households, the primary foster carers veiled their face in public.

A council employee heard the child say that the first foster parent, to whose care she was due to have been returned this week, had taken away her necklace, which had a cross. The same family was said to have refused to allow her to eat a carbonara meal because it contained bacon. Any local authority making a foster placement is required by law to give due consideration to the child’s “religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background”. Addressing lawyers for Tower Hamlets yesterday, Judge Sapnara said that her “overriding concern [was] the welfare of the little girl”.

“You would presumably accept that the priority should be an appropriate, culturally matched placement that meets the needs of the child in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion?” she said. Kevin Gordon, counsel for the local authority, agreed but said that when the girl initially became the council’s responsibility, no white British foster carers were available.

The Fostering Network charity has estimated that 7,600 new foster families need to be recruited in the next year. It said there was a “particular need for foster carers to look after teenagers, disabled children, sibling groups and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children” but identified no shortfall in carers for babies and young children.

A national shortage of ethnic minority foster carers often leads to non-white children being placed with white British carers. In England, 84 per cent of foster carers are white, as are 77 per cent of fostered children.

The court was told yesterday that the family’s wish for the girl to be placed in the temporary care of her grandmother had been under consideration for a number of months. Judge Sapnara said her decision to order the child’s removal from foster care was not taken “as a result of undue media involvement”. “It is taken because of the evidence available to the court today, that the grandmother is an appropriate carer for the child,” she said. All parties, including Tower Hamlets, supported the decision.

Until the child’s future is resolved, at a date yet to be set, she will continue to have regular meetings with her mother, supervised by council staff. To protect the child, The Times is not disclosing the unusual circumstances that led to her being taken into care this year.

The judge said she had not seen reports of meetings in which a council employee observed the child’s distress and unhappiness and asked Tower Hamlets to provide her with copies.

Tower Hamlets council said it had the “welfare of children at the heart of what we do” and would like to give more details about the case to correct “inaccuracies”, but was legally restricted from doing so. “The decision to choose foster carers for a child is based on a number of factors including cultural background and proximity to contact with the child’s family . . . in order to give them as much stability as possible,” a spokesman said. “We have always been working towards the child being looked after by a family member and will continue to do so.”

ENDS

 

THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART ONE: CRUSADE

August 28, 2018

 

Norfolk_series_head_01
A YEAR ago today award-winning reporter Andrew Norfolk published a piece of rogue journalism.

In a series of three articles in The Times he accused the London borough of Tower Hamlets of forcing a 5-year-old Christian child to live with Muslim foster carers.

It was a sensational exposé which made headlines around the world.

But the series was a cynical crusade against Tower Hamlets, its social workers and foster carers.

It’s part of a growing body of anti-Muslim articles in The Times.

A year-long Press Gang investigation shows Norfolk’s series was only made possible because he excluded key material.

He suppressed four important pieces of evidence:

— the mother of the child was born to Muslim parents

—  Tower Hamlets was always in favour of the child being cared for by her grandmother

— the mother has used a British-Pakistani barrister in court proceedings

— foster care experts warned Norfolk the mother’s version of events was likely to be faulty.

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ANATOMY OF A SMEAR
YOU ARE reading the first part of the most comprehensive account of Andrew Norfolk’s rogue journalism. It has taken a year to produce and includes a broad-ranging complaint to the press watchdog IPSO.
Press Gang is an independent investigative website edited by the retired former ITV current affairs producer Paddy French. He is unpaid.
Press Gang played a part in the downfall of former News of the World reporter Mazher Mahmood and exposed the unscrupulous career of Piers Morgan.
However, the expense of running the site is significant — the Guardian, for example, charged us £60 for a licence to use the picture of Andrew Norfolk.
If you want to help Press Gang bring rogue journalists to book, you can make a donation, either a small one-off amount or a more useful monthly subscription. You’ll find the Donate button at the end of this article. 

One told him bluntly:

“You shouldn’t go near this story — it just doesn’t ring true.”

Norfolk’s investigation provoked a storm of protest.

The Muslim Council of Britain branded the articles “disgracefully dishonest”.

The press complaints watchdog IPSO, part-funded by The Times, declined to investigate more than 150 complaints.

It wasn’t until Tower Hamlets entered the fray that IPSO ruled Norfolk and The Times had been inaccurate.

IPSO found their coverage “gave the impression that the judge had found the placement was a ‘failure’ by the council …”

‘“This was a distortion.”

In a major humiliation for Norfolk, The Times was forced to publish a highly critical ruling — and flag it up on the front page.

Press Gang can now reveal that Tower Hamlets also made a complaint against The Sun which had followed up Norfolk’s coverage

Sun Editor Tony Gallagher — unlike Times editor John Witherow — surrendered immediately.

The paper wrote to Tower Hamlets, accepting “the article was not accurate”.

Andrew Norfolk, though, remains unrepentant.

“I think we did our job as a newspaper,” he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 shortly after his series was published.

Until these articles Norfolk, the chief investigative reporter of The Times, was one of Britain’s most respected journalists.

unnamed2-297x300

EXCLUSIVE
THE SUN RECANTS
SUN EDITOR Tony Gallagher (above) initially repeated many of the allegations made by The Times. But the tabloid threw in the towel as soon as Tower Hamlets complained. In December 2017 the paper wrote to the council accepting that these allegations were “inaccurate”. On newspaper databases which still make the article available, the paper added that “future reporting of claims made that the child was forced to speak Arabic, had a gold cross removed, was banned from eating carbonara because of the pork content and ate meals off the floor should not be reported as fact. A court appointed independent guardian visited the foster carer and interviewed the child alone and found there to be no issues with care and care to be of a good standard.”
Photo: News UK

His work in exposing the sexual grooming of  vulnerable young girls, starting in 2011, is widely regarded as a classic piece of investigative reporting.

It won Norfolk many awards.

But among many thoughtful journalists, concerned at the rising tide of Islamophobia in some British newspapers, Norfolk’s role in the “Christian child” saga is chilling.

They cannot understand how a dedicated and courageous reporter could lower his standards to produce a series so one-sided it qualifies as rogue journalism.

Press Gang investigates the shame of Andrew Norfolk.

♦♦♦

IN March last year, police were called to a building in East London.

Officers found a young woman and her 5-year-old daughter.

Because the law protects the identity of the child, Press Gang can only reveal part of what happened.

Police decided that the circumstances in which they found the child required them to exercise their “powers of protection”.

They removed the child from her mother.

Because the incident took place in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, it was the council’s social workers who took charge of the little girl.

Social services now had to find emergency foster care while the courts decided what should happen to the child.

The 5-year-old has an unusual background.

Her mother comes from a relatively humble Muslim background in a predominantly Muslim country.

The mother tongue of both the child’s mother and her grandmother is not English.

The child knows her grandmother well.

She has her own room in her grandparents’ home.

The child’s mother insists her upbringing was Christian.

She says her daughter is also Christian.

Andrew Norfolk

CRUSADER
ANDREW NORFOLK made his name with his 2011 series about mainly British-Pakistani men sexually grooming and sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham. It led to several awards including the Orwell Prize and Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. He was named Journalist of the Year at the 2014 British Press Awards. When he first heard about the grooming allegations his immediate thought was “this is a dream story for the far right.”  
Photo: Graham Turner for The Guardian

The child’s biological father does not appear to play a significant role in her upbringing.

Social workers now had to decide where the child should go.

They chose a foster carer who was an English-speaking Muslim whose first language is Arabic.

Their own children speak English as their main language — and English is the language used in the home.

At a court hearing in March, the mother asked that her daughter be placed in the care of her grandmother.

Tower Hamlets was in favour if the grandmother passed the necessary assessment process.

The process was delayed partly because the grandmother’s main residence was in a foreign country and because official documents had to be translated into her mother tongue.

When the first foster carers went on an extended holiday in June, a second Muslim family took over.

In the summer of 2017 “friends” of the child’s mother contacted Andrew Norfolk and told him they were concerned about the foster carers.

They provided reports from a social services supervisor which stated:

— the child was sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster home because “they don’t speak English”

— the child claimed that the carer removed her necklace which had a Christian cross and

— the child claimed the carer suggested she should learn Arabic.

Family “friends” also told Norfolk:

— the carer refused to allow the child to eat her favourite Italian food, carbonara, because it contained bacon

— the first foster carer wore a niqab while the second foster carer wore a burqa.

♦♦♦

ANDREW NORFOLK now began to examine the evidence.

He contacted experts in fostering.

One of these was Andy Elvin, chief executive of The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT).

Elvin said that, in emergency placements like this one, the number of available foster carers would be limited.

Social workers would take into account the nature of the foster carer’s home situation and their ability to give the little girl a stable home environment.

Norfolk told Elvin about the allegation that the foster carers didn’t speak English.

Elvin told him this was nonsense: all foster carers went through a lengthy assessment to make sure they were fluent in both spoken and written English.

Norfolk also asked about the removal of personal effects.

Elvin said there were likely to be sound reasons for taking this course of action.

He added:

“Norfolk also appeared to be totally unaware of basic family court proceedings.”

“This included the fact that the court appoints a guardian, independent of both the parent and the foster carer / local authority, to make sure the child is properly cared for.”

Norfolk said his sources included council reports and concerns raised by “friends” of the mother.

Elvin said he didn’t think this was good enough.

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IGNORED
ANDY ELVIN (above) is the chief executive of the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity. He warned Andrew Norfolk that there were problems with the narrative he was exploring. The reporter ignored him …  
Photo: TACT

He told him:

“You shouldn’t go near this story —it just doesn’t ring true.”

At this point, Elvin says, Norfolk accused him of being “defensive”.

Norfolk also spoke to a journalist who is a foster carer.

This individual doesn’t want to be identified.

Norfolk gave him much more background information about the case.

The journalist told Press Gang:

“He knew that the child’s heritage was complex and that she was the daughter of migrants on both sides.”

“He had enough information to work out that some members of the family may also be Muslim”.

“He knew that the maternal grandmother had applied for custody and was being viewed favourably by social services.”

“As a foster carer, I challenged many of the claims made about the foster carers in Tower Hamlets.”

“I questioned the reasons why the crucifix might have been removed: we probably would have done the same, mainly for the child’s safety given her age.”

“I explained that birth families routinely — and understandably, perhaps — find fault in foster carers or make false allegations.”

“I also explained that family contact sessions are often difficult, and generally don’t reflect the quality of the placement.”

“I told him he should be very careful.”

These warnings should have been enough for Norfolk to dig deeper into the mother’s tale.

Was she telling the whole truth about her daughter’s placement?

Norfolk was also uniquely placed to investigate the mother’s background.

The Times’ news desk — like those of all national newspapers — was well aware of the circumstances in which the child came to be taken into care.

But Norfolk also had access to the mother — either directly (which he has never confirmed) or through “friends”.

He should have asked for documentary evidence of the mother’s Christianity and for the certificate showing where and when the little girl was baptised.

It would also have been easy for him (as it was for Press Gang) to establish that

— the mother has had relationships with men from several different countries

— this wasn’t the first time she’d been involved with the police

— she appeared to have issues with both alcohol and drugs

— she has an older child who has been the subject of proceedings in the family court.

If Andrew Norfolk made these inquiries, he decided not to share the results with readers of The Times.

Towards the end of August last year Norfolk and senior figures at the paper decided on the editorial line they were going to take.

The paper would publish the mother’s version of events.

The paper also decided that the story would feature on the front page on Monday, August 28.

The date was significant because there was a long-arranged hearing of the family scheduled for the next day.

And, a fortnight earlier, Tower Hamlets had informed the family court that the assessment of the grandmother had finally been completed.

It was positive.

This meant that the court was almost certain to end the foster care and place the child in the care of her grandmother.

Family court experts say that the mother’s legal team would have also have been informed of these developments.

Press Gang asked Andrew Norfolk and The Times if this was the reason why August 28 was chosen.

After that date, the child would no longer have been in the care of Muslim foster carers but have moved to be with her Muslim grandmother.

Neither Norfolk nor The Times answered the question.

♦♦♦

THE TIMES front page headline on August 28 could not have been starker:

Christian child forced into Muslim foster care

The sub-head read:

Concern for girl who ‘had cross removed and was encouraged to learn Arabic’

The first six paragraphs of the main story set out Andrew Norfolk’s thesis:

A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic.

The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

DIRBYN_XoAALCx8

In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.

The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.

It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.

More recently, the girl is said to have told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.

The article was illustrated by two photographs, taken from behind, which showed the second of the child’s foster carers wearing a burqa.

The child was shown wearing European clothing.

Her long hair was slightly pixellated.

The captions included the text:

“The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cult­ural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months.”

The article added that Tower Hamlets was a “scandal-ridden” council, citing the removal of mayor Lutfer Rahman in 2015 for corrupt and illegal electoral practices.

It also noted an Ofsted report in April 2017 which found “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

Rating the children’s service as inadequate, Ofsted condemned an “entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards”.

The next day Norfolk published a second story with the headline:

Parents begged Tower Hamlets council to let child in Muslim care stay with grandmother

The article continued:

A council that forced a Christian child to live with conservative Muslim foster carers has blocked a number of attempts to move her to families where she would feel more at home.

Inquiries by The Times have established that the girl’s family has spent the past six months begging the London borough of Tower Hamlets to allow the five-year-old to be released into the care of close family friends or relatives.

The east London council has most recently opposed attempts to place the child into the temporary care of her grandmother.

♦♦♦

THE story was picked up by media in both Britain and abroad.

The credibility of The Times combined with Andrew Norfolk’s reputation persuaded many journalists and commentators to accept the paper’s narrative as fact.

Two examples show how toxic some of the coverage became.

Journalist Allison Pearson, writing in the Daily Telegraph a few days later, wrote:

It’s like something from a dark, dystopian drama.

She added

The authorities note that the child sobs and begs not to be sent back to the foster home “because they don’t speak English”. Her alarmed mother reports that her daughter says “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that European women are “alcoholic”.

Incredibly, this is not science fiction.It’s happening right now, in Tower Hamlets, a scandal-ridden London borough, where the five-year-old has spent the past six months in the care of two different Muslim households.

The Sun published a column by Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, which carried the headline:

The decision to put a five-year-old Christian girl into Muslim foster care is like child abuse and the council must pay.

Phillips took The Times narrative as gospel.

♦♦♦

ANDREW NORFOLK could only publish his story by purging it of inconvenient facts and deceiving his readers about key evidence.

NATIONALITY

Norfolk bent the narrative to leave readers with the impression that the little girl was English.

Norfolk purged anything that might suggest the girl’s parents were foreign-born migrants.

He also purged the fact that the grandmother was foreign-born.

He deceived readers by describing the little girl as being a “native English” speaker. 

WITHEROW

JOHN WITHEROW
EVER SINCE he took over the editor’s chair at The Times in 2013, John Witherow has been under fire for his coverage of issues involving Briton’s Muslim population. In 2015 the press watchdog IPSO ruled that a Times story headed “One in five British Muslims has sympathy for Isis” was inaccurate. The paper had twisted a survey in which respondents weren’t even asked about the terrorist group. In 2012, when he was editor of the Sunday Times, the paper published a front page article written by the now-disgraced Mazher Mahmood, gaoled in 2016 for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The piece accused a Muslim dentist of being willing to perform female genital mutilation. The police investigation collapsed when it turned out that an undercover “associate” of Mahmood’s had probably prostituted herself to persuade the dentist to co-operate. For the full story, see Withering Heights.
Photo: PA

He deceived readers by publishing a photo in which the little girl looked just like any ordinary English child.

MUSLIM BACKGROUND

Norfolk twisted his story to suggest the little girl was an English Christian trapped in families from an alien religious background.

To do this he had to purge the fact that the mother was from a Muslim background.

A court-approved document later made it clear her parents are Muslim.

The same document record the mother’s insistence that they are Christian.

This fundamental conflict was of no interest to Andrew Norfolk.

Norfolk also purged his narrative of the comments made by the experts he talked to.

They told him there might be innocent explanations for the removal of a necklace carrying a cross such as concerns for the little girl’s safety.

These warnings did not suit Norfolk’s chosen narrative so he simply ignored them.

LANGUAGE

In order to emphasise the horror of an apparently English-speaking girl under pressure to speak Arabic, Norfolk purged the complex linguistic heritage of the child, the mother and the grandmother.

It’s clear the child speaks at least English and the foreign language spoken by her grandmother.

The mother is multi-lingual.

The grandmother speaks English poorly at best.

TOWER HAMLETS

For Andrew Norfolk, the villain of the piece was Tower Hamlets council.

To do this he had to purge the fact that social workers had always approved the grandmother as a carer provided an assessment was positive.

Norfolk deceived his readers by using emotive language like the mother “begging” the council to allow the child to go to her grandmother.

And by stating that the council “blocked” the mother’s wish for the child to go to her grandmother.

In his first article he purged the fact that the social services supervisor’s report — the only documentary evidence he had — concerned highly charged contact sessions with the mother.

He deceived readers by leaving out the fact that the child had a court-appointed guardian who was independent of both the mother and Tower Hamlets. 

He also purged his account of the critical Ofsted report of comments which praised parts of the fostering service:

“Most children in care live in good foster homes …”

“Children living with family members and foster carers are generally settled.”

“The fostering service is actively recruiting new carers, and it supports carers well. Care proceedings are effective for most children in progressing plans for permanence.”

♦♦♦

IT WAS after Andrew Norfolk had published his first two articles that the East London Family Court sat to decide the fate of the little girl.

Judge Khatun Sapnara heard the assessment of the grandmother was positive.

Both the mother and Tower Hamlets were in favour of the child going to live with her.

The judge agreed.

Andrew Norfolk and The Times reported the hearing in a front page story the next day which included the sub-head: 

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

But the judiciary were already moving to place a completely different narrative into the public domain.

Judge Sapnara ordered a summary of the court proceedings to be published.

It was blunt:

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court makes it clear that the decision to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.”

The summary noted that the child’s “biological father has not been located.”

It stated that the mother’s legal representation was paid for out of public funds.

It also stated that the child’s guardian — appointed through the court and independent of both the mother and Tower Hamlets — “has no concerns as to the child’s welfare and she reports that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer.”

The court also ordered that legal representatives for the mother and Tower Hamlets produce an agreed statement.

Both parties accepted that the first foster carer wore a hajib [the headscarf] and not the niqab Andrew Norfolk had stated as fact in the opening paragraph of his first article. 

This statement recorded the views of the grandmother.

She “… has been distressed and angered by the allegations against the foster carers which she has said were false and lies.”

These allegations were made by the mother and reported by Andrew Norfolk.

The grandmother “has a good relationship with the carers and is grateful for the excellent care she says that they have provided to the child.”

The child told the grandmother that she “is missing the foster carer and has asked … if she can have contact with the family.”

♦♦♦

NEXT
HALLELUJAH!

THE INSIDE story of the dramatic court hearing that began to unravel Andrew Norfolk’s narrative. The judge breaks with tradition and publishes a highly revealing summary of proceedings. Noting the disagreements between the mother and the foster carers, she orders a report to be prepared that both Tower Hamlets and the mother must agree. When it’s published, it does even more damage to Andrew Norfolk’s version of events.

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2
The full text of Andrew Norfolk’s first two articles can be found at the end of this article. Press Gang is adding them because The Times operates a pay wall. 

♦♦♦

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APPENDIX 

FIRST TIMES ARTICLE
28 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEAD

“Christian child forced into Muslim foster care”

SUB-HEAD

“Concern for girl who ‘had cross removed and was encouraged to learn Arabic”

PICTURE CAPTION 1 

The girl with one of the two Muslim carers appointed by Tower Hamlets

PICTURE CAPTION  2

The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cult­ural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months

A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic.

The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.

The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.

It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.

More recently, the girl is said to have told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.

In any decision regarding a foster placement, local authorities are required to give due consideration to the child’s “religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background”.

Tower Hamlets refused to respond to requests to explain why it had chosen to place a white, English-speaking Christian child with Muslim foster carers, including one household where she was unable to understand the language spoken by the family.

Her first carer, with whom the girl lived for four months, is believed to have worn a niqab outside the family home. The carer at her present foster placement wears a burka, fully concealing her face, when she accompanies the child in public.

The wearing of a niqab or burka generally indicates adherence to a conservative, Salafi-influenced interpretation of Islam that is often contemptuous of liberal western values.

To protect the child, The Times has chosen not to identify her or the unusual circumstances that led to her being taken into care earlier this year.

The girl’s mother is said by friends to have been horrified by the alien cultural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months.

“This is a five-year-old white girl. She was born in this country, speaks English as her first language, loves football, holds a British passport and was christened in a church,” said a friend.

“She’s already suffered the huge trauma of being forcibly separated from her family. She needs surroundings in which she’ll feel secure and loved. Instead, she’s trapped in a world where everything feels foreign and unfamiliar. That’s really scary for a young child.”

In some areas of the country, a longstanding shortage of foster carers from ethnic-minority backgrounds frequently leads to non-white children being, of necessity, placed with white British foster parents. It is far less common for the reverse to take place.

Published fostering statistics for England show that of the 51,800 children who were in foster placements last year, 39,900 (77 per cent) were white, as were 52,500 (84 per cent) of the 62,400 approved foster carers.

The 2011 national census found that 80 per cent of England’s population was white British, falling to 45 per cent in London and 31 per cent in inner-city Tower Hamlets.

Across the capital last year, 39 per cent of fostered children and 42 per cent of foster carers were white. In Tower Hamlets, only 24 per cent of looked-after children were white.

No figures were published nationally or at local authority level to show how many children were placed with foster carers of a different ethnicity.

Tower Hamlets declined to reveal how many cross-cultural foster placements it was overseeing. The council also refused to say whether it had a shortage of white British foster carers. It cited confidentiality obligations and accused The Times of putting at risk the stability of a vulnerable child’s foster placement and schooling.

Ten years ago a council report warned of a need to “recruit foster carers from a range of backgrounds” in Tower Hamlets to enable it “to match carers and children, taking into account a number of factors including ethnicity, religion, language, culture and location”.

The under-represented communities that it sought to target in 2008 in adverts for new foster carers were “Caribbean, African, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi (for older children) and white”.

More recently the council has earned public notoriety. In 2015 it was stripped by the government of many of its powers after its former mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was found guilty of corrupt and illegal electoral practices.

In April this year an Ofsted inspection of the council found “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

Rating the children’s service as inadequate, it condemned an “entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards”.

The Department for Education said it was unable to comment on cases but a spokesman stressed that “when placing a child in a foster home, the local authority must ensure that the placement is the most appropriate way to safeguard the child and support their welfare. A child’s background is an important consideration in this decision.”


SECOND TIMES ARTICLE
29 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEAD

“Parents begged Tower Hamlets council to let child in Muslim care stay with grandmother”

PICTURE CAPTION Tower Hamlets has placed a young Christian girl into foster care with two Muslim families in turn. For the past two months, the child’s care has been entrusted by the council to a foster carer who wears a burka
A council that forced a Christian child to live with conservative Muslim foster carers has blocked a number of attempts to move her to families where she would feel more at home.

Inquiries by The Times have established that the girl’s family has spent the past six months begging the London borough of Tower Hamlets to allow the five-year-old to be released into the care of close family friends or relatives.

The east London council has most recently opposed attempts to place the child into the temporary care of her grandmother.

Instead, she initially spent four months with a carer whose family often spoke Arabic when she was with them, leading the girl to complain that she was unable to understand what they were saying.

A Tower Hamlets employee who supervised regular meetings between the child and her family recorded the child’s distress, at the conclusion of each meeting, when she was handed over to the carer.

In a written report of one meeting, the contact supervisor described the girl as “very emotional and tearful”.

“She said they don’t speak English at the home, she doesn’t understand the Arabic words where she is. [The girl] said she wants to go back home to her [mother].”

The social services employee heard the child whispering Arabic words to her mother that she was allegedly told must be said aloud to ensure that “when you die you go to heaven”.

Her reports also describe the child’s account of her necklace, which carried a Christian cross, having been removed, and not returned, by the first foster carer.

After another supervised meeting, the council worker heard the child explaining to her mother that the foster carer “said she needs to ask [her social worker] if she can learn Arabic”.

At the end of the meeting, the girl “started crying and saying that she doesn’t want to go back”.

For the past two months, the child’s care has been entrusted by the council to a second foster carer. Both women concealed their faces when they were with the girl in public, the first by wearing a niqab and the second with a burka.

It is understood that the five-year-old has also spoken of the first foster carer having refused to let her eat a meal of carbonara because it had bacon in it.

Friends of the family said she had also told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid”.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that any state agency considering a foster placement must pay due regard to “the desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and to the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background”.

Tower Hamlets has refused to respond to requests from The Times to explain why it has twice chosen to place the girl in an environment that is wholly alien to her heritage and upbringing.

A council spokesman said yesterday that its fostering service “provides a loving, stable home for hundreds of children every year”. All its foster carers received training and support to ensure they were “fully qualified to meet the needs of the children in their care”.

“In every case, we give absolute consideration to our children’s background and their cultural identity.”

A national shortage of foster carers from minority ethnic backgrounds, particularly in rural areas, often leads to a non-white child being placed with white British foster carers. It is far more unusual for a white child to be placed in a non-white foster home.

According to published fostering statistics for England in 2016, 84 per cent of approved foster carers were white, as were 77 per cent of fostered children.

ENDS

EXCLUSIVE: THE WATCHDOG STIRS

January 19, 2018

the-times_head_01d

THE TIMES is under investigation for a controversial series of articles which claimed a five-year-old Christian child was forced by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to live with Muslim foster parents. 

The three articles, written by award-winning Chief Investigative Reporter Andrew Norfolk and published in August last year, resulted in a barrage of complaints to the watchdog IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Critics claimed the series was inaccurate and amounted to a racist smear against Britain’s Muslim community. 

The Muslim Council of Britain branded the articles “disgracefully dishonest”.

IPSO — funded and controlled by newspapers including The Times — rejected 254 complaints.

DIRBYN_XoAALCx8

GOSPEL
THE FIRST of The Times articles, published on August 28 last year, attracted 251 complaints — all of them rejected by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

It ruled that only people directly affected could complain about discrimination.

And it claimed it was unable to investigate allegations of inaccuracy “without the involvement of an individual in the position to know the facts of this case … “

But Press Gang has learned that everything has dramatically changed.

A “party directly involved” has recently come forward.

An IPSO spokeswoman confirmed that this person has submitted a complaint — number 255 — and that it is being investigated.

The complaint alleges that one of the articles in the series was inaccurate — and also breached the section of IPSO Editors’ Code which protects children.

The new complaint is a major blow to The Times.

The paper — and its editor John Witherow — had hoped the “Childgate” affair had blown over.

This morning Press Gang told the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) about the new development.  

Miqdaad Versi, Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, said he is now “looking to re-submit his complaint.”

He had previously condemned IPSO’s failure to investigate as an “appalling dereliction of duty”.  

WITHEROW

JOHN WITHEROW
THIS ISN’T the first time Times’ editor John Witherow has come under the Press Gang microscope. In 2012, when he was editor of the Sunday Times, the paper published a front page article written by the now-disgraced Mazher Mahmood. The piece accused a Muslim dentist of being willing to perform female genital mutilation. The police investigation collapsed when it turned out that an undercover associate of Mahmood’s had probably prostituted herself to persuade the dentist to co-operate. For the full story, see Withering Heights.
Photo: PA

Andrew Norfolk, who won the Paul Foot award for his investigative reporting of the grooming of teenage girls in the north of England, has defended his articles.

He told the BBC Today programme last October:  

“My job as a reporter, when matters on the face of it raise serious concerns are brought to our attention, my job is to investigate them.”

He added:

“And when you discover issues that you believe are in the public interest to explore and expose … I think we did our job as a newspaper.”

IPSO is also considering whether to accept another complaint: number 256.

On Wednesday, Press Gang submitted a 13 page complaint — the most comprehensive IPSO has received on the issue of accuracy.

Yesterday, a copy of the complaint was sent to Andrew Norfolk and John Witherow, editor of The Times.

We asked for a comment by 2pm this afternoon.

There was no response from either. 

The Press Gang investigation continues.

Anyone who has any further information can contact via Twitter @pguk10

♦♦♦

CORRECTION
This article was amended on January 21. The original headline — “A Watchdog Stirs? — was amended to “A Watchdog Stirs”. The second paragraph originally said there were three front page articles: in fact there were only two. Apologies for the mistake. 

♦♦♦

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REVIEW — UNTOLD: THE DANIEL MORGAN MURDER EXPOSED

June 26, 2017

final-book-jacket

♦♦♦

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed
Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes
(Blink Publishing, hardback £14.99, ebook £9.99)
Reviewed by Paddy French

♦♦♦

THIS BOOK tells the story of two young men.

In March 1987 a Welsh private detective called Daniel Morgan was axed to death in south London.

The 37-year-old left behind a widow and two small children.

He also left behind an older brother, Alastair, who made a vow to bring his killers to book.

Alastair wasn’t to know that his pledge would mean he would have to devote the rest of his life to the cause.

It’s been, in effect, a life sentence — with the rest of his personal and professional life taking a back seat to the campaign.

For three decades he’s waged a battle to get police, media and the political establishment to take his brother’s brutal murder seriously.

But, despite five police investigations costing millions of pounds, no-one has ever been convicted of the murder …

♦♦♦

“UNTOLD” EXAMINES the scandal from two angles.

One is Alastair’s gruelling year-by-year account of his meetings with obstructive senior police officers and politicians.

Some of the story is told by his partner Kirsteen, a BBC journalist.

The other narrative is a dispassionate account of the case by the writer Peter Jukes.

DANIEL MORGAN

DANIEL MORGAN
FOR THIRTY years his family, led by older brother Alastair, has battled to bring the killers to book. One of the biggest obstacles was police corruption in the original investigation.
Photo: courtesy of the Morgan family

He came across the case while covering the hacking scandal.

He then produced the award-winning Untold podcast series about Daniel’s murder which attracted four million listeners across the world.

From that came this book.

At first sight, of course, the title is misleading.

The story is far from “untold” — it’s been reported extensively by some newspapers, especially the Guardian, and has featured in two important books.

There was a chapter on the murder in both former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan’s Bent Coppers (2002) and Untouchables by Laurie Flynn and Michael Gillard (2004).

The case has also featured on the BBC programme Crimewatch.

There have also been many regional TV documentaries.

I made several while I was a producer at ITV’s Wales This Week current affairs series — Daniel’s father was Welsh and Daniel and Alastair grew up in south Wales.

I also helped to persuade colleagues on the London Programme to cover the story in 2004.

Press Gang readers will also be aware of the long series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.

♦♦♦

BUT IN A more fundamental sense, the title is right on the money.

The scandal has never received the attention it deserves.

To see why, you only have to compare it with the killing of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in south London in April 1993.

Within five years of Stephen’s murder there was a full-scale public inquiry — headed by Sir William Macpherson — which branded the Metropolitan Police as institutionally racist.

It took the Morgan family 26 years to get the political establishment to pay any attention — and even then it was far from the public inquiry they wanted.

In 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May set up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel.

THERESA MAY

THERESA MAY
IN 2013 — more than quarter of a century after the murder — Home Secretary Theresa May established the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. Headed by Baroness O’Loan, the panel meets in secret and is moving at a snail’s pace. Its report will not be published until next year …
Photo: PA

Macpherson took less than two years to produce his report — the Daniel Morgan Panel, which carried out its investigations in private, is still writing theirs.

Stephen’s family also got the dramatic backing of the Daily Mail in 1997 when the paper famously branded the five main suspects as murderers.

In stark contrast, recent coverage by Daily Mail stablemate, the Mail on Sunday, has indulged in a smear campaign against Daniel Morgan.

The Macpherson Inquiry also led to the end of the ‘double jeopardy’ rule — that a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offence — which led to two of Stephen’s assailants being convicted in 2012.

In 2008 the five men suspected of involvement in Daniel’s murder were charged but the case, dogged by unreliable witnesses and missing documents, collapsed.

So why has the Daniel Morgan case not attracted the same level of attention as the Stephen Lawrence murder?

Untold comes up with two inter-locking reasons

— a substantial number of corrupt police detectives with connections to the London underwood and

— their connections with Fleet Street journalists, in particular those working for Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.

The private detective agency Daniel Morgan worked for — Southern Investigations — became one of the key brokers between the two groups in the years following the murder.

At the root of it all is a failure of regulation.

Attempts to introduce proper regulation of the police — especially in relation to corruption — have failed.

The current regulator, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is seen as generally ineffective.

At the same time, Scotland Yard has jealously guarded its right to investigate internal corruption.

It’s proved inadequate to the task.

The same is true of journalism.

The lack of ethics at Rupert Murdoch’s papers has seen its reporters sink ever deeper into corruption and criminality.

The News of the World, the Sun and the Sunday Times have all been tarnished by this descent.

Other papers, most notably the Daily Mirror under former Murdoch protegé Piers Morgan, were dragged into the mire.

The Daily Mail was also dabbling in the “dark arts” of unlawful news gathering.

This led to a reluctance by most papers to cover the Daniel Morgan case because it risked exposing their own wrong-doing.

157_ALASTAIR:ISOBEL

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL
DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay flowers on the spot in a south London pub carpark where Daniel was axed to death. 
Photo: PA

Only the Guardian resisted the tide — and, in Nick Davies, had the reporter who would eventually expose the sewer.

Unless there’s a fundamental overhaul of the way the police and the press are regulated, it’s inevitable there will be more scandals like Daniel Morgan. 

♦♦♦

“UNTOLD” IS an important book — but it could have been even better.

The first drawback is the authors’ decision to end their account in 2013 — four years ago.

Since then there has been a major development.

Four of the five men charged with the murder brought a civil action against the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution.

Earlier this year — as reported in the Pesss Gang article The Business Of Murder — Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

The judge did award substantial damages to one suspect, ex-Scotland Yard detective Sidney Fillery.

This dramatic case is briefly mentioned in the book’s Afterword but a full account could easily have been included.

The book would also benefit from a detailed timeline.

However, the most serious shortcoming is the lack of an index.

For a book destined to become a key textbook this is an essential tool.

The authors say they’ll put most of these matters right in a second edition when the report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel is published.

Despite these flaws, Untold remains one of the most important books ever written about the relationship between the media and the police.

As former Prime Minister Gordon Brown puts in his dedication at the beginning of the book:

“One story about the media has already been told — the tale of phone hacking.”

“Another equally sinister chapter — involving a raft of unanswered allegations about … interference with the process of justice — has yet to be told.”

“Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes’ book is an important contribution to that story.”

♦♦♦

COMING
A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
THE MAGAZINE Private Eye is continuing its lone campaign to have Dave Cook — the detective in charge of the failed prosecution of the prime suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder — prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. This is despite the family’s insistence that it would be “a travesty of justice” to make him a “scapegoat” for thirty years of failures by Scotland Yard. Press Gang examines the case against Cook …

♦♦♦

NOTES
1
Press Gang has reported the scandal for many years — see the Daniel Morgan page for a list of the articles published.
2
The sister website to Press Gang Rebeccahas also reviewed Untold from a Welsh perspective. Click here to read it.

♦♦♦

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THERESA MAY — CEREAL KILLER

June 6, 2017

CONFLAKES MASTER

PRIVATE EYE: A STAB IN THE BACK

April 27, 2017

corrupt_header_6

THE PRIME suspect in the unsolved Daniel Morgan murder has always enjoyed the support of powerful newspapers.

Five police investigations identified Jonathan Rees — boss of Southern Investigations, the No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — as the only credible suspect in the brutal 1987 murder.

Also suspected of involvement in the killing was Rees’ close friend Sidney Fillery, a Scotland Yard detective who served on the initial murder investigation.

Despite their notoriety, Rees and Fillery enjoyed the confidence of the News of the World for a quarter of a century.

Even after Rees was gaoled for seven years for conspiring to ruin an innocent woman, the paper’s editor Andy Coulson stood by his man.

In 2008 Rees and Fillery were charged in connection with Daniel Morgan’s murder.

The prosecution — dogged by unreliable witnesses and documents not disclosed to the defence — finally collapsed in 2011.

Jonathan Rees has persuaded the Mail on Sunday to publish articles portraying him as an innocent man.

In August 2014 chief reporter Ian Gallagher and freelance journalist Sylvia Jones published a highly sanitized version of the case.

Press Gang complained to Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre — and no further articles have appeared.

Now Private Eye has published a series of articles — in its “In The Back” section — highly favourable to the pair.

REES_and_FILLERY_210

THE STORY SO FAR …
FOR THREE decades police believed private detective Jonathan Rees (left) was the prime mover in the murder.
They believe he recruited brother-in-law Glenn Vian to carry out the 1987 killing. Glenn’s brother, Garry, was the look-out man.
Detectives say Rees relied on close friend Sidney Fillery (right), a Scotland Yard detective, to frustrate the investigation.
Fillery was on the murder team for several days before his relationship with Rees emerged.
Fillery retired from the police shortly after the murder — and stepped into the dead man’s shoes at Southern Investigations.
For the events leading up to the murder, the early contaminated murder inquiry, the sensational inquest which saw Ree’s book-keeper accuse him of planning the murder, see Part One — An Axe To Grind.
The second — Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers — reveals how Rees and his new partner Fillery became key players in the unlawful sale of confidential police information to national newspapers, especially the News of the World. Attempts by anti-corruption detectives to end this corrosive trade came to nothing.
The third police investigation failed to bring the killers of Daniel Morgan to book — but Rees was gaoled for seven years after he was caught conspiring with corrupt Scotland Yard detectives to plant drugs on a young mother. A search of Fillery’s computer found images of extreme child sex abuse — he was convicted and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register. The story is told in Porridge, the third instalment of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.
In 2008 Rees and Fillery were finally charged in connection with Daniel Morgan’s murder but the case collapsed after key witnesses were found to be unreliable and boxes of evidence were not disclosed to the defence. An account of the trial can be found in the fourth instalment Getting Away With Murder.
Rees and Fillery then went on the attack — suing Scotland Yard for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office. Only Fillery was partly successful. The Press Gang article, The Business Of Murder, the fifth part of the series, is the longest published account of their civil action.
Photos: PA

Press Gang made several attempts to persuade editor Ian Hislop’s journalists to produce more balanced reports.

All were ignored.

It wasn’t until this article was about to go to press — and more than three months after we first contacted them — that Private Eye finally addressed our concerns.

Editor Ian Hislop sent us a three page letter and insisted we print it all …

♦♦♦

THE FOUR Private Eye articles were published in December last year and January, February and March of this year.

They were reports of the High Court action brought by Rees, Fillery and Glenn and Garry Vian against the Metropolitan Police.

The four men were claiming the criminal case which collapsed in 2011 was a “malicious prosecution” by Scotland Yard.

As a result, Rees and his former brother-in-law Glenn Vian spent 22 months in prison on remand.

Glenn Vian’s brother, Garry, was already serving a 14 year sentence for drug smuggling.

Fillery was detained for three months.

The four also claimed the senior investigating officer in the case, detective chief superintendent Dave Cook, was guilty of “misfeasance in public office.”

The criminal case against them collapsed partly because a key prosecution witness was found to be unreliable.

The judge in the case, which was abandoned in 2011, decided ex-DCS Cook had probably coached the witness to change his testimony.

The civil action was heard before Mr Justice Mitting at the High Court.

The four Private Eye articles appeared in the magazine’s “In The Back” section, supervised by reporter Heather Mills.

The first  — “Judge dread” — appeared in December last year.

dave_cook_200

EX-DCS DAVE COOK
THE EXPERIENCED murder detective was the senior investigating officer in the fourth and fifth attempts to bring Daniel Morgan’s murderers to book. Cook came in for serious criticism — accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice — during the pre-trial hearings in the criminal case which collapsed in 2011. For Private Eye he is a nothing more than a corrupt detective who should be in the dock. For many seasoned watchers of the saga, including Press Gang, no other police officer has done more to solve the case. He has paid a high price for his dedication — a painful divorce and the lasting enmity of the Metropolitan Police … 
Photo: PA

It reported that Judge Mitting was losing patience that ex-DCS Dave Cook had not given a statement in the case.

The judge gave counsel for the Metropolitan Police, the defendants in the action, ten days to provide a statement from ex-DCS Cook.

“I am thinking of putting a gun to your head with a bullet that will fire in a short period of time,” he said.

Cook had already produced a note from a doctor claiming he was depressed and that giving evidence would further damage his mental health.

Private Eye stated:

“The Met maintained that it would fight on even if no statement from Cook materialised by 9 December deadline.”

“But without him, it may have to settle the claim, which has already exceeded £1.5m in legal costs.”

This was followed by a second piece in January this year.

“Back in court” was even more critical of ex-DCS Cook:

“How ironic that the best chance of finding out why the murder of south London private investigator Daniel Morgan … remains unsolved after 30 years now lies with a claim of malicious prosecution and malfeasance in public office being brought against the Metropolitan police by the key suspects.’

It summarised Rees and Fillery’s case by quoting their QC, Nicholas Bowen:

“Between 2005 and 2006, he [ex-DCS Cook] coached and manipulated the two main witnesses, failed to investigate exculpatory lines of inquiry, suppressed documents, misled his colleagues and lied to the trial judge.”

The piece noted that the Metropolitan police would continue without Cook — there were “multiple accounts from various of the claimants’ associates” of the plaintiffs’ involvement in the murder.

“Cook feels the heat” — the third article, published in February — reported Mr Justice Mitting’s verdict, dismissing the claim for “malicious prosecution” in its entirety.

Mitting ruled that only Fillery had suffered as a result of DCS Cook’s misfeasance in public office — he will receive substantial damages.

The Eye was clearly not expecting this verdict — and called it “controversial.”

It said there would be an appeal.

SUSPECTS_400

PRIME SUSPECTS
 AN ARTIST’S impression of the five men charged in connection with the Daniel Morgan murder in 2008 — from left to right, Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian, Sid Fillery, Garry Vian and James “Jimmy” Cook. After the case collapsed all but Cook sued the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office. 
Illustration: Elizabeth Cook, PA

The magazine added:

“After the hearing, Daniel’s brother Alistair Morgan said it would be a ‘travesty of justice’ if Cook were to become the scapegoat for the ‘decades’ of police corruption at the centre of the unsolved murder.”

“And he is right — as Eye readers will be well aware, the case was fouled long before Cook.”

“But people are innocent until proven guilty no matter their criminal record or what the police believe.”

The final piece — “Cook’s stew” — appeared in March.

The Eye made it clear that DCS Cook should be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice:

” … the evidence and public interest test clearly having been met, with two trials and two adverse findings by two high court judges about Cook’s conduct.”

The magazine was irritated by parts of the High Court judgment.

“With judicial clairvoyance, Mitting decided that Cook only perverted the course of justice – by illicitly prompting a mentally unstable, renowned liar – because he ‘genuinely’ believed the four were guilty.”

The piece also noted “supporters of Cook say he is a fall guy for the Yard’s internal politics and its close relationship with the News of the World, which Rees and Fillery worked for as private contractors.”

But the Eye still believes Cook should be prosecuted:

“As the 30th anniversary of Morgan’s murder passes on 10 March, surely the most ‘appropriate’ action for new Met Commissioner Cressida Dick must be to support a fair prosecution of Cook.”

♦♦♦

THE PRIVATE EYE coverage was a propaganda coup for Rees and Fillery.

But it was only achieved by leaving out relevant information which readers needed to make an informed judgement.

The magazine

— failed to declare that the freelance journalist largely responsible for the coverage, Michael Gillard, has a personal axe to grind in this case

— failed to explain the history of ex-DCS Cook’s involvement in the case and how Fillery persuaded the News of the World to cynically — and criminally — target him and his wife

— failed to give a balanced view of Cook’s role in the case

— failed to tell its readers about the criminal past of Rees, in particular his breathtaking attempt to ruin an innocent woman by using corrupt police officers to plant drugs in her car

SID FILLERY

EX-DETECTIVE SERGEANT SIDNEY FILLERY
FOR SEVERAL days in 1987 Fillery was a key officer in the initial Morgan murder investigation. He claimed he left the investigation when it became clear that there was a conflict of interest. The senior investigating officer, however, said that he ordered him off the inquiry when he discovered he was a close friend of Rees. Fillery was arrested shortly afterwards but released without charge. In 2002 he was convicted of fifteen counts of making indecent images of children.
Photo: PA

— failed to tell readers that, during the fourth investigation into the murder, a search of Fillery’s computer revealed a cache of extreme images of child sexual abuse

— failed to tell readers that in 2011 Scotland Yard apologised to the Morgan family for the fact that Fillery’s corruption made a successful prosecution almost impossible.

— failed to tell readers that Alastair Morgan, the brother of the murdered detective, has believed almost from day one that Rees ordered the killing — and that Fillery covered up for him.

♦♦♦

THE DRIVING force behind the Eye articles is the widely respected journalist Michael Sean Gillard.

The son of Michael Gillard, who writes the magazine’s ‘Slicker’ column, he was voted Journalist of the Year in 2013 by the British Journalism Society.

The Society awarded him the prize for his long inquiry into the activities of East End crime boss David Hunt.

He remains in fear of retribution from underworld figures and maintains a low profile.

This Press Gang article does not include his photograph for that reason.

Gillard has also investigated police corruption for more than two decades.

In 2000 he clashed with Scotland Yard over his reporting.

At the time he was working for the Guardian along with another freelance journalist Laurie Flynn.

They were investigating the record of the Metropolitan Police anti-corruption team — the so-called Untouchables.

In 2000 Commander Andy Hayman, then in charge of the Untouchables, became concerned about the activities of Gillard and Flynn.

The third investigation into the Daniel Morgan murder was under way.

Police had bugged the offices of Southern Investigations and heard Jonathan Rees planning a criminal conspiracy with one of his clients.

The client, Simon James, was locked in a custody battle with his wife Kim over their son Daniel.

James went to Rees who cooked up a plan to plant cocaine in her car — and then arrange for a corrupt detective inform on her.

In 2000 Rees, James and the bent copper were arrested.

(All were later gaoled: Rees and James for seven years, the corrupt Scotland Yard detective for five).

Phone hacking claims

ANDY HAYMAN
IN 2000 the Scotland Yard Commander became concerned that Jonathan Rees might use Michael Gillard to undermine the prosecution case against him.
Photo: PA

Commander Hayman was worried Rees would use his relationship with Gillard and Flynn to plant stories that might compromise the prosecution.

In August 2000 Hayman wrote to then Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

“I have concerns,” he wrote, “that in their research your journalists may be at risk, perhaps unwittingly, of assisting Rees in unethically or unlawfully seeking his acquittal in the serious charges he will be required to answer to trial at the Central Criminal Court.”

The Untouchables had already expressed concern about Rees and Fillery.

A 1998 report stated:

“They are alert, cunning and devious individuals who have current knowledge of investigative methods and techniques which may be used against them …”

“Such is their level of access to individuals within the police, through professional and social contacts, that the threat of compromise to any conventional investigation against them is constant and very real.”

Gillard and Flynn insist they had no intention of writing about the Kim James case.

They believe Hayman’s letter led to the paper stopping their investigation into the Untouchables.

Gillard and Flynn withdrew from the paper and, in 2004, published their book Untouchables.

Untouchables is an important book and includes a rigorously fair account of the Daniel Morgan case.

The book’s thesis is that Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption campaign

” … is a phoney war, which by fostering the illusion of ruthless efficiency and success seeks to ensure that Scotland Yard continues to police itself and protect its darkest recesses from public scrutiny.”

Gillard and Flynn then add

“Since we began this journey into the dark side of the Yard, senior officers have done their best to prevent this investigation reaching you.”

“We have been threatened, assaulted, lied to, smeared by the organisation”.

“We also uncovered a plot by the Yard to derail our inquiries by making false allegations of criminal conduct in a letter to … Alan Rusbridger, which was kept from us.”

The Guardian rejected this criticism.

Alan Rusbridger told the trade magazine Press Gazette in 2001:

“The Guardian invested a large amount of time, money and the best legal resources we could find to back Laurie and Michael in their investigation into alleged police corruption.”

Guardian debate

ALAN RUSBRIDGER
THE GUARDIAN editor denied Michael Gillard’s claim that Scotland Yard had forced the newspaper to drop his investigation into police corruption.
Photo: PA

“Our unequivocal and unanimous legal advice at the end of the day was that we could not defend the allegations that they were seeking to make.”

Rusbridger says he never saw Hayman’s letter.

After finally reading it, he noted:

“It contained no serious allegations about Michael and Laurie and was in no sense an attempt to place the Guardian under any pressure.”

♦♦♦

IN HIS four Private Eye articles Gillard is silent about the background to ex-DCS Cook’s involvement in the Daniel Morgan murder.

An experienced murder squad detective, Cook was approached in 2002 to appear on the BBC Crimewatch programme.

He was married to policewoman Jacqui Hames, who was also a presenter on the programme.

He was asked to pretend he was the senior investigating officer in the third investigation into the Daniel Morgan murder.

In fact, the investigation was being handled by Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption team — although Cook later took the job for real.

In June 2002 Cook appeared on the programme to appeal for witnesses to the murder.

The next day, Cook was told by anti-corruption officers that Sid Fillery had been in touch with reporter Alex Marunchak at the News of the World the night before the broadcast.

(At the time, Rees was still in prison for the Kim James conspiracy.)

Fillery and Marunchak were overheard to agree that they would “sort out” the detective.

What followed was a full-scale “dark arts” operation against Cook and his wife.

A few days after the broadcast Cook was told by Surrey Police, where he worked from 1996 to 2001, that someone had rung asking for his address.

The caller said they were working for the Inland Revenue and wanted it to send Cook a tax refund.

It later became clear that Glen Mulcaire — the private eye gaoled in 2007 with News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking into royal mobiles — obtained Cook’s address, his internal Met payroll number and the amount he and his wife were paying on their mortgage.

Mulcaire also obtained the mobile number for Cook’s wife as well as the password she used.

Press regulation deal

JACQUI HAMES
THE CRIMEWATCH presenter was traumatised when Sid Fillery persuaded the News of the World to target her and her husband, DCS Dave Cook. “The stress that we endured over the subsequent years contributed to the eventual breakdown of my marriage.” She did not learn that her phone was also hacked until 2011 …
Photo: PA

In January 2003 Rebekah Brooks was at Scotland Yard on a social visit when she was asked to have a word with Dave Cook “to clear the air”.

When Cook took her through the events, she insisted Marunchak was a fine reporter.

The Met’s senior brass sided with the News of the World — and sidelined the concerns of Dave Cook and his wife.

The couple found themselves between a rock and a hard place — the News of the World and the indifference of the Met.

The surveillance operation — it came three years after Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando was shot dead outside her London home in 1999 — placed a strain on the couple.

Their marriage didn’t survive and they later divorced.

Michael Gillard says nothing about any of this in the four recent articles.

In  our email to Private Eye, we noted:

“Here we have a supposedly blameless ex-Scotland Yard detective, Fillery, presumably anxious to catch the killer of the man into whose shoes ‘somewhat surprisingly’ he stepped, alerting the News of the World … to what exactly?”

“That Cook was having an affair with his own wife?”

“Surely the whole exercise, from Fillery’s point of view, was a cynical attempt to put pressure on the fourth attempt to catch Daniel’s killers?”

In other words, Fillery was attempting to pervert the course of justice — the very charge the Eye levels against ex-DCS Cook.

Even more serious, while the Eye makes it clear the case has been dogged by police corruption it does not say that Fillery is the cause of that corruption

For several days he played a leading role in the investigation — carrying out the first official interview of Jonathan Rees — without telling senior officers he was a close personal friend.

At the end of March 2011, Scotland Yard issued a public apology to the Morgan family.

Disturbances across the UK

PUBLIC APOLOGY
ACTING METROPOLITAN POLICE Commissioner Tim Godwin formally apologised in March 2011 to the Morgan family for the force’s failure to convict Daniel’s killers. “You are entitled to an apology not only for this failure but also for the repeated failure [by Scotland Yard] … to accept that corruption had played such a part in failing to bring those responsible to justice.” Private Eye left out the fact that Rees’ friend Fillery was the primary source of that corruption … 
Photo: PA 

Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin said:

“I recognise how important it is to the family that the part played by corruption in the original investigation is acknowledged publicly.”

The source of that corruption was Sid Fillery who, as a detective sergeant on the first murder investigation, had fatally contaminated the inquiry …

♦♦♦

PRESS GANG tried on several occasions to persuade Private Eye to provide more balanced reporting.

In January, after the first article, we emailed the magazine saying we assumed this piece

” … was written by Mike Gillard and forms part of his assault on the Met for the use of supergrasses.”

“The trouble is, without giving some of the context (such as the fact that Rees was caught red-handed conspiring to plant cocaine on a woman so that she would lose custody of her child), the Eye gives the impression Rees is a wronged-character.”

The Eye ignored this email.

After the second piece, in January, we emailed again.

Again there was no response.

On April 13 we sent a long letter outlining this article.

A week later Heather Mills, the reporter responsible for “In The Back”, replied:

“You have obviously spent a lot of time putting together your letter and its allegations and are apparently intending to make some very serious aspersions.”

“I can see no reason why you should wish to impose an impossible deadline for responding, nor to rush to publish.”

We gave the Eye until last night to respond.

Editor Ian Hislop sent us a three page letter.

(The full letter is printed at the end of this article, in line with our Right of Reply policy.)

'Private Eye - The First 50 Years' Annual Signing - London

IAN HISLOP
THE EDITOR of Private Eye sent us a three-page letter — insisting Press Gang publish it in full … 
Photo: PA

“To be honest,” writes Hislop, “I’m afraid I find it extremely difficult to understand let alone respond to the, frankly, wild allegations you are making against Private Eye … ”

“Contrary to what you suggest these are a fair and accurate account of recent court proceedings and developments.”

He adds

“… you appear to be basing your many and confusing allegations on a suggested ‘lack of context’ in our coverage.”

“In so doing, you are operating on the false basis that we have ignored the aspects of the Morgan case about which you are now complaining.”

He then goes on to spell out what Private Eye has said about the murder in the past, including all the material cited in this article.

But that is not the point Press Gang is making — we say that some of this material should have been included in the four recent articles to present a balanced case.

Moreover, whatever Private Eye has said in the past is no longer available to the vast bulk of the readership.

The magazine provides no publicly available database and index of previous articles.

Hislop hits the nail on the head:

“… you seem intent on suggesting that there is a conspiracy between Michael Gillard and the Eye to embark on an ‘anti-Cook crusade’ that has given ‘succour to the prime suspects in the case.’ This really is nonsense.”

At least in this article, Press Gang presents as much of the material, from both sides, so readers can make up their own mind on the issue.

♦♦♦

REES AND FILLERY are now hoping Channel 4 will give them a platform.

The broadcaster confirmed this morning it had commissioned the independent production company Indefinite Films to work on a series about the murder.

There are concerns that this programme will also present a biased account of the case.

Alastair Morgan has declined to take part.

image1

PETER JUKES
THE PRODUCER of the award-winning podcast series Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder tried to get Private Eye to publish a letter complaining about its coverage. The Eye refused to publish it … 
Photo: PA

Series producer Adam Wishart told us:

“Our aim is provide an authoritative and impartial account of the events leading up to and since Daniel Morgan’s death.”

“The production team will be adhering to the strict Ofcom guidelines around fairness, factual, accuracy and impartiality and their hope is to include interviews with witnesses, people associated with Daniel Morgan and his family.”

However, Press Gang has obtained a copy of an email from producer Jim Nally sent to police officers involved in the case.

Nally says

” … our investigation is very much following the police’s in terms of exposing who had the motive and the connections.”

“We really want to do justice to the Trojan efforts of police to solve this crime …”

But he then goes on to say

“ … we’ve got Sid Fillery on board, which is important, as accusations of police corruption have been so lazily bandied about by the Morgan campaign that we felt it was about time someone said ‘show me the evidence’, which is exactly Sid’s point which he delivered really well.”

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This is breathtaking stuff — it ignores the fact that, in 2011, Scotland Yard publicly apologised to the Morgan family for “the part played by corruption in the original investigation.”

The source of that corruption was Sid Fillery.

The retired police officer approached by Nally warned him:

“There was a wealth of evidence that [Fillery] acted inappropriately (to say the least) which was compounded by the fact that he retired and took the victim’s place in the private detective agency.”

“I would seriously warn against any officer contributing to a programme that appears to centre on this ex-officer.”

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 told us:

“Channel 4 has commissioned a multi-award winning production team at Indefinite Films to make an investigative factual series about the events surrounding and following the death of Daniel Morgan.”

“As with everything broadcast on Channel 4, we will retain editorial control and ensure everything is underpinned with robust journalism, presented fairly, accurately and impartially.”

“Daniel Morgan’s family, along with all the key witnesses involved in the story are being approached for this in-depth forensic series.”

♦♦♦
Published: 27 April 2017
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS

THIS ARTICLE was amended on 12 & 14 May and 13 June 2017.
Press Gang wrongly stated Michael Gillard “forced the Guardian to make public” the letter to the paper from Scotland Yard Commander Andy Hayman. We apologise for the error.
Michael Gillard also objects to our statement that Rees “persuaded” him and the Eye to publish “favourable” articles. Press Gang stands by its analysis of these articles as “favourable” but Rees didn’t need to persuade Gillard to write them — his critique of ex-DCS Cook dates from 2011. The piece has been amended to reflect this.

RIGHT OF REPLY

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop’s letter 

Dear Paddy French,

I promised you a response to your various communications, so here it is at some length after consultation with all those involved.

To be honest, I’m afraid it is extremely difficult to understand let alone respond to the, frankly, wild allegations you are making against Private Eye arising from  the latest articles in the magazine concerning the long-running  Daniel Morgan case. Contrary to what you suggest these are a fair and accurate account of recent court proceedings and developments.

So we are not going to try and address everything to which you refer; it also follows, just because we have not in this letter addressed a specific point or allegation that you make, that we accept it.

You agree that our reporting was ‘perfectly valid’ including the suggestion that DCS Dave Cook should be prosecuted for what two High Court judges concluded was perverting the course of justice.

However, you appear to be basing your many and confusing allegations on a suggested ‘lack of context’ in our coverage. In doing so, you are operating on the false basis that we have ignored the aspects of the Morgan case about which you are now complaining.

Since as long ago as 2004, we have written about corruption and incompetence by the police in relation to the murder and its investigation; the family’s struggle for the truth against the Met and Home Office stonewalling; and the shady pasts of the key suspects – including Rees’ conviction for planting drugs on an innocent woman and Fillery’s possession of indecent images of children. All of this we reported long before Cook’s conduct became an issue and he became the ‘story’.

Even the articles of which you complain mention that the case has always been mired in police corruption and allegations of media misconduct.

Indeed Issue 1438 (February 2017 following the Mitting judgement in favour of the Met, one of the four recent articles on which you focus)stated : “After the hearing Daniel’s brother Alastair Morgan said it would be a “travesty of justice” if Cook were to become the scapegoat for “decades” of police corruption at the centre of the   unsolved murder”. And he is right” (my emphasis).

The fact is, all sections of the Eye have covered different aspects of the Morgan case over the last thirteen years, often breaking new ground that has not been covered in the mainstream media.

Despite all this, you seem intent on suggesting that there is a conspiracy between Michael Gillard and the Eye to embark on ‘an anti-Cook crusade’ that has given ‘succour to the prime suspects in the murder.’ This really is nonsense.

You also make the baffling suggestion that we should have declared a supposed ‘conflict of interest’ because Michael Gillard is somehow in bed with the key suspects to undermine their prosecution because they are important sources of his. This is a serious allegation with no basis in fact and demonstrably false as you could have discovered from basic research.

Your letter shows you are already aware of Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn’s book, Untouchables, published in 2004 and republished in 2012, which spells out the case against the key suspects and their connections to News International and other tabloid media.  A news article in the Eye the following year covers some of this ground – and this by the way was requested for use by publishers of Alastair Morgan’s and Peter Jukes’ forthcoming book. There are other articles Michael has written elsewhere on this case which you have also failed to take into account when composing your fantastical theory. The Hayman letter to the Guardian in 2000 was first exposed by Michael Gillard in the Press Gazette and other publications, and is again available in full on line. You might also want to look at DCS Bob Quick’s evidence to the Leveson inquiry, in which he admits that the Hayman letter was indeed an attempt to undermine Michael and Laurie’s investigations into the flawed anti-corruption squad (again on-line).

Although Laurie played no part in the Eye’s coverage, he has been passed your allegations, which he rejects entirely and shares our concerns about why you are intent on making them – despite evidence to the contrary.

You make the point that ‘the use of informants was the only possible mechanism (short of a confession) by which the Met could ever bring Rees & co to trial’. It was therefore vital that the handling of those witnesses should have been beyond reproach.

The simple truth is that the person who undermined the final investigation and those witnesses’ evidence against the key suspects – and wrecked the family’s final chance of justice – was Dave Cook, an officer they thought they could finally trust. He repeatedly breached a new law and police rules specifically designed to prevent prosecutions being undermined by police misconduct.

None of this could be explained or mitigated, as you are suggesting, by the fact that Cook and his then wife were put under surveillance by the News of the World – a point we explained in an article entitled Eaton Mess in August 2011.

It was always open to the couple to continue their civil claims against News International to get to the bottom of the surveillance matter rather than settle in private. In the same way that it was always open to Dave Cook to put forward any mitigation for his actions in the fifth murder investigation to us, which he declined, and at the recent high court hearing, which he refused to attend.

Indeed, we maintain there was a duty as a police officer for him to give evidence in the interests of justice and his own cause if he felt unsupported and left out to dry by his superiors – a possibility we have reported despite Cook’s unwillingness to engage with the Eye.

We  must therefore disagree with those who appear to want to defend Cook and mitigate his actions based on his treatment by News International and his subsequent arrest for leaking documents to selected journalists, including for a book he was intending to write with The Sun’s (also News International’s) crime reporter. Whatever effect the surveillance had on Cook and his then wife, and whatever the facts about who sparked that surveillance and why, none of this is a defence to the charge of perverting the course of justice.

We note that your letter also appears to see our ‘perfectly valid’ coverage as a reason to attack the Eye’s stance on Leveson. We will have to agree to disagree with you and those in the Hacked Off camp about the press regulation issue.

Finally, we can see no reason why we should supply you with a photograph of one of our journalists.

Given the seriousness of the allegations you appear intent on publishing we would also ask, in line with your stated policy of a ‘right to reply’, that you post this response in full at the same time on your website so that it appears immediately after your article.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Hislop
Editor

Notes
1
The letter from Commander Andy Hayman — though only the first page is publicly available — is dated 12 August 200 and is addressed to Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, and marked “Strictly Confidential — Not For Publication”.
It is headed “Proposed article by Gillard and Flynn.”
“I am writing to advise you that the Internal Investigation Command of the Metropolitan Police Service (formerly CIB2/3) is currently investigating the archives [sic] of Jonathan Rees, partner of a private investigation agency known as Law and Commercial [the new name of Southern Investigations]. Rees awaits trial charged with Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Public Justice. It is alleged that he and others, including a serving police officer arranged for controlled drugs, namely cocaine, to be planted on an innocent woman and for her to be arrested and prosecuted, in order to discredit her prior to a child custody case where she intended to seek custody of her 18 month old baby. Further, it is alleged in this conspiracy in return for payment from the baby’s father who is also charged.”
“I am aware of proposals by your freelance journalist[s] connected to your newspaper namely Mt Gillard and Mr Flynn to publish an article about the work of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Corruption Squad (now Internal Investigations Command). We understand and support the need to report on the issued [sic] of Public Interest. I have concerns that in their research your journalist[s] may be at risk, perhaps unwittingly, of assisting Rees in unethically or unlawfully seeking his acquittal to the serious charges he will be required to answer to trial at the Central Criminal Court.”
2
This article is a development of  a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011.
Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments. 
Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said:
“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”
“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or others.” 
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
3
There are six parts to The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency:
An Axe To Grind
Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers
Porridge

Getting Away With Murder
The Business Of Murder
Private Eye — A Stab In The Back.
See also the Daniel Morgan page.
4
The series draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as published material by other journalists, notably Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers: The Inside Story of Scotland Yard’s Battle Againats Police Corruption (Orion). It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s Untouchables: Dirty Cops, Bent Justice and Racism In Scotland Yard (Cutting Edge, 2004). Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack (Chatto & Windus, 2014) , Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch (Allen Lane, 2012) and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch (Unbound, 2012). Peter Jukes has also produced a podcast series — listened to by more than 4 million people — Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder. x
5
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.
6
Since they’re not available online, Press Gang republishes the four Private Eye articles here in full:

Article 1
“Daniel Morgan Murder
Judge dread”
(Eye 1433
9 December 2016)

“I am thinking putting a gun to your head with a bullet that will fire in a short period of time,” an exasperated Mr Justice Mitting told the Metropolitan Police last week.

The judge was giving Knacker of the Yard 10 days to produce a signed statement from a crucial witness or risk losing a costly civil action for malicious prosecution over the 1987 axe murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.

And who is the Met’s vital but reluctant witness? Step forward former detective chief superintendent Dave Cook, who led the fifth and final investigation into the murder.

Eye readers may recall how the resulting prosecution collapsed in 2011, in large part because of Cook’s repeated mishandling of key supergrass witnesses (Eye 1294). He had apparently ignored warnings from his boss, deputy assistant commissioner John Yates, to stop all documented contact with them.

The acquitted included Jonathan Rees, Morgan’s partner at Southern Investigations; Sidney Fillery, the detective who initially investigated the murder then somewhat surprisingly stepped into Morgan’s former job as a private investigator at Southern investigations; and Glen and Gary Vian, Rees’s brothers-in-law. In 2013 they decided to sue the Met for malicious prosecution and false prisonment.

The high court trial is supposed to start in January. But, unknown to the judge until last week, Cook has legged it to Scotland – and Knacker does not know where exactly. Mitting had been told in October that Cook did want to give evidence. But at last week’s hearing the Met produced a note from a doctor claiming Cook is depressed and that giving evidence would further damage his mental health.

Mitting described Knacker’s attempt to track down the key witness – a posted letter — as “pretty feeble.” He said: “I am becoming more confident than I was on the last occasion that you are being given the runaround by Mr Cook.”

Cook’s ongoing absence has made some seasoned Morgan watchers wonder whether the force really wants to see him and Yates cross-examined about what happened with the supergrasses Gary Eaton and James Ward, and why boxes of documents about their lies and criminal pasts were not disclosed to the defence

The Met maintained that it would fight on even if no statement from Cook materialised by the 9 December deadline. But without him, it may have to settle the claim, which has already exceeded £1.5m in legal costs. This is on top of the estimated £50m spent on no fewer than five failed police investigations, not to mention the undisclosed cost of the inquiry panel into the Morgan affair, set up by Theresa May in 2013, that is still looking into the whole fiasco.

Article 2
“Daniel Morgan Murder
Back in court”
(Eye 1436
27 January 2017)

How ironic that the best chance of finding out why the murder of south London private investigator Daniel Morgan … remains unsolved after 30 years now lies with a claim of malicious prosecution and malfeasance in public office being brought against the Metropolitan police by the key suspects.

The horrific axe murder has always been mired in allegations of police corruption, links to organised crime and Irish terrorism and, more recently, to tabloid newspaper corruption. Now the High Court is hearing claims that the fifth and final investigation was a “fit-up” led by former chief superintendent David Cook, who broke the rules to secure convictions at all costs.

The murder trial collapsed in 2011 after after the judge excluded some supergrass evidence and after it emerged that boxes of evidence had not been disclosed. By then, Morgan’s business partner Jonathan Rees, brothers Glenn and Garry Vian, James Cook and former policeman Sid Fillery had already served two years in jail on remand.

The actions of David Cook are central to the claim which opened last week. “Between 2005 and 2006, he coached and manipulated the two main witnesses, failed to investigate exculpatory lines of inquiry, suppressed documents, misled his colleagues and lied to the trial judge.” said Nicholas Bowen, QC for four of the men.

Eye readers will recall that Mr Justice Maddison had concluded Cook had “probably prompted” one of the key supergrass witnesses Gary Eaton, to incriminate at least two of the defendants and possibly others. The judge also highlighted an interview with another supergrass, James Ward, in which Cook had offered him a “head start” by giving him the names of three suspects.

Cook is in Scotland, refusing to appear as a witness and leaving it to his colleagues – not least assistant commissioner John Yates, who will have to account for his own apparent lack of oversight. In particular, how was it that after the supergrass scandals of 1998-2002, when Yates was one of the Met’s anti-corruption squad (the so-called Untouchables), the same illicit tactics to present career criminals as witnesses of truth was still being used years later.

But it is not enough to show serious misconduct by Cook or his colleagues to succeed in the claim. Rees and the other claimants (the Vians and Fillery) have to prove “malice” or “improper motive” on the part of the officers. Jeremy Johnson QC, for the Met, says that while it accepts Mr Justice Maddison’s finding about Cook, there remained a proper basis to arrest and prosecute each of the claimants, including “multiple accounts from various of the claimants’ associates” of the five’s involvement in the murder.

Daniel Morgan’s long-suffering family are also still hoping to learn more from the review panel that Theresa May set up in 2013 to look into the murky case – but the review is taking place behind closed doors. It’s not known who has given evidence (the panel won’t say whether Cook has appeared, for example) – and as Eye 1430 reported, chair Baroness (Nuala) O’Loan has links with the case. Former Met “Untouchable” Dave Wood, who ran the third failed investigation into Morgan’s death, was O’Loan’s chief investigator when she was the Northern Ireland police ombudsman.

Article 3
“Daniel Morgan Murder
Cook feels the heat”
(Eye 1438
24 February 2017)

Big questions arise from last week’s controversial ruling by Mr Justice Mitting that Det Chief Supt Dave Cook perverted the course of justice in the trial of four men accused of involvement in the unsolved 1987 axe murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.

Eye readers will recall that Morgan’s business partner, Jonathan Rees, brothers Glenn and Garry Vian and former detective Sid Fillery were suing the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance. They had spent up to two years on remand before their trial crumbled in March 2011 when the credibility of Cook and three supergrass witnesses was fatally undermined.

The trial judge back then, Mr Justice Maddison, and now Mr Justice Mitting both found that Cook had repeatedly made illicit contact with the main supergrass witness, Gary Eaton – a career criminal with mental health disorders making him prone to fantasy. Deliberately breaking new rules to prevent such “contamination”, Cook persuaded the suggestible Eaton to identify the Vians and encouraged him to say he was at the murder scene – a south London pub car park – to witness its aftermath, when he evidently wasn’t. Details of these illicit contacts were suppressed in reports to prosecutors.

Yet without hearing from Cook, who refused to appear, Mr Justice Mitting determined that the now retired detective perverted the course of justice only because he “genuinely” thought the men were guilty – not out of malice. The judge dismissed all claims from Rees and the Vians, saying there was still other evidence upon which charges could have been brought, even if it was later to unravel.

He did however award Fillery (who had been accused of perverting the course of justice) as yet undecided damages for Cook’s misfeasance. The only evidence against him came from Eaton, who claimed Fillery had threatened him to keep his mouth shut about the murder.

The big question is whether Cook will now be prosecuted and finally have to account publicly for what really happened inside what was the fifth and last investigation into the murder. The public interest test in favour of prosecution could not be higher – but the Crown Prosecution Service and Inspector Knacker might not want to Cook unpicking another controversial aspect of the ruling. The judge found that the Met could not be liable for any “malicious prosecution” because the CPS and Treasury counsel, despite being kept in the dark and misled by Cook over his dealings with Eaton, oversaw the case.

The Met refused to waive legal privilege, so no internal discussions could be disclosed and prosecutors did not have to give evidence, in particular on whether they would have brought a prosecution had they known the key officer and supergrass witness were so tainted.

The claimants are seeking leave to appeal, saying the ruling now made it almost impossible to bring a claim of malicious prosecution against the police and could “encourage” so-called “noble cause corruption”. They added that officers should not feel they cannot be held liable for “outrageous and unlawful” conduct and the law should restrain rather than encourage it.

After the hearing, Daniel’s brother Alistair Morgan said it would be a “travesty of justice” if Cook were to become the scapegoat for the decades of police corruption at the centre of the unsolved murder. And he is right– as Eye readers are well aware, the case was fouled along before Cook. But people are innocent until proven guilty — no matter their criminal record or what the police believe.

Article 4
“Daniel Morgan Murder
Cook’s stew”
(Eye 1439
10 March 2017)

Nearly three weeks after Mr Justice Mitting ruled that former Det Chief Supt Dave Cook had perverted the course of justice in the unsolved 1987 murder of private detective Daniel Morgan (see last Eye), Knacker of the Yard is still “considering the appropriate next step to take”.

Cook refused to give evidence in his own or Knacker’s defence at last month’s high court civil action for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in a public office, brought by Morgan’s business partner Jonathan Rees, brothers Glenn and Garry Vian and former policeman Sidney Fillery.

Only Fillery was awarded damages for Cook’s misfeasance. With judicial clairvoyance, Mitting decided that Cook only perverted the course of justice – by illicitly prompting a mentally unstable, renowned liar – because he “genuinely” believed the four were guilty.

When the men’s lawyers argued that the ruling could encourage “noble cause corruption” by the police, it was the Met’s own counsel, Jeremy Johnson QC, who countered that errant cops can be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice, thus providing a deterrent through criminal sanction.

As yet, however, no bulky file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, despite the evidence and public interest test clearly having been met, with two trials and two adverse findings by two high court judges about Cook’s conduct

More cynical observers of the Morgan scandal might wonder if it suits the Met not to have Cook grip the rail and explain why a fifth and final murder investigation miserably disintegrated — and with it the hopes of Morgan’s family for justice.

Supporters of Cook say he is a fall guy for the Yard’s internal politics and its close relationship with the News of the World, which Rees and Fillery worked for as private contractors. As the 30th anniversary of Morgan’s murder passes on 10 March, surely the most “appropriate” action for new Met commissioner Cressida Dick must be to support a fair prosecution of Cook.
7
Press Gang made an error on Twitter over the Eye’s coverage. We said that there were mistakes in a Private Eye article. As soon as we realised our error, we deleted the tweets.

♦♦♦

COMING
SKY FALL?
THIS YEAR will see a major battle for control of Britain’s airwaves — Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take overall control of Sky TV. The mogul scuttled an earlier attempt in 2012 because of the public outcry over the phone hacking scandal. The battle for Sky will be a key battleground in 21st century British media because of the decline in newspapers. If Murdoch gets Sky, he will move to smash the powerful broadcasting watchdog Ofcom — and convert Sky News into a British version of his US Fox News channel. This is part of a plan to replace the fading populist power of the Sun with a new right-wing  TV version. All the signs are Theresa May’s government will give Rupert Murdoch what he wants. But all is not lost — the Murdochs are vulnerable to a charge that, despite claims to have cleaned up their criminal stable since the closure of the News of the World in 2012, some areas of their empire remain as corrupt as ever …

♦♦♦

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CORRECTIONS Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

THE BUSINESS OF MURDER

April 3, 2017

corrupt_header_part_5

FEBRUARY 2017 was a bad month for one of the prime suspects in the unsolved murder of private eye Daniel Morgan.

Jonathan Rees — boss of the No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — lost his High Court action against the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

He brought the action after his criminal trial for the murder collapsed in 2011 — and after he’d spent 22 months in prison.

He’d been hoping to make a substantial killing in compensation.

Private Eye, which puts the total cost of the case at more than £1.5 million, says Rees will appeal.

If he fails, he faces a huge legal bill — on top of other mounting debts.

He may have to sell his £1 million house in Surrey …

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THIS 5,000 word article is the fifth instalment of an investigation into Southern Investigations that started more than a decade ago.
For 30 years the Daniel Morgan murder was largely ignored by the UK newspapers and broadcasters.
In part, this was because the News of the World was in a commercial relationship with one of the prime suspects in the case.
Press Gang is independent and does not carry advertising. It runs at a loss and the only source of income is donations.
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♦♦♦

WHEN MR Justice Mitting dismissed Rees’ action on February 21, it was a major blow to the murder suspect.

He’d funded the action by doing a deal with his solicitors, Freedman Alexander of Ewell in Kent.

If he won, their costs would be paid by the Metropolitan Police.

If he failed, their fees would be secured by a mortgage on Rees’ four-bedroomed property in Weybridge, Surrey.

This charge was registered in November last year.

The amount is not known.

The Weybridge property is worth a million pounds but it already has two other mortgages .

Rees and his partner Margaret Harrison — a former lover of the murdered Daniel Morgan — bought the detached house in March 2006 for £440,000.

This was shortly after Rees had finished serving a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother so she would lose custody of her child.

Rees and Harrison’s previous home in Thornton Heath, Croydon was sold for £290,000 in May 2005.

The couple took out a Bank of Scotland mortgage to pay for the new Weybridge property in 2006 and added a second — from Skye Loans Limited — shortly after.

Press Gang understands Rees was arrested in 2006 by  Scotland Yard’s Financial Crimes Unit in connection with a mortgage application on this house.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge him.

In addition to the three mortgages, there are also a series of court orders on the property.

In April 2008 the debt collection company Lowell Portfolio obtained judgment against Rees at Kingston County Court for an unspecified debt.

The same court granted Barclaycard a similar judgment against Rees in May 2008.

Again, the debt is not stated.

Another judgment was made against Rees at Cardiff County Court in favour of Link Financial Ltd for another debt.

REES_and_FILLERY_210

THE STORY SO FAR …
PRIVATE EYE Jonathan Rees (left) should have been an immediate suspect in the murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan in 1987 — the two men were love rivals and were arguing about a botched security operation. But Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) kept that crucial information — as well as his close friendship with Rees and his own involvement in the ill-fated security operation — from the murder squad for several vital days. For the events leading up to the murder, the early contaminated murder inquiry, the sensational inquest which saw Rees’s book-keeper accuse him of planning the murder, see Part One — An Axe To Grind. The second part of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers — reveals how Rees and his new partner in the Southern Investigations detective agency, Sid Fillery, became key players in the unlawful sale of confidential police information to Rupert Murdoch’s empire, especially the News of the World. Attempts by anti-corruption detectives to end this corrosive trade came to nothing. Part three — Porridge — tells the story of how Jonathan Rees was gaoled for 7 years after he was caught conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother. When indecent child abuse photos were found on Sid Fillery’s computer — he was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register — the detective agency collapsed. In 2008 Rees and Fillery were finally charged in connection with Daniel Morgan’s death: Rees with murder and Fillery with attempting to pervert the course of justice. Part four — Getting Away With Murder — tells the story of how the case dramatically collapsed …
Photos: PA

Finally, the Manchester branch of the law firm Pannone obtained judgment at Kingston County Court in February 2014.

This was for the recovery of £12,247 in legal costs.

Pannone would not comment on the case.

♦♦♦

REES’ ATTEMPT to make a financial killing from the Metropolitan Police reached its climax in the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this year.

The case opened on January 17.

The judge was the experienced Sir John Mitting.

Rees was joined by three other claimants.

Two of them — his former brothers-in-law Glenn and Garry Vian — had been also been accused of the murder of Daniel Morgan.

They were joined by former detective sergeant Sid Fillery, accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

SUSPECTS_400

SUSPECTS
AN ARTIST’S impression of the five men charged in connection with the Daniel Morgan murder in 2008 — from left to right, Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian, Sid Fillery, Garry Vian and James “Jimmy” Cook. The prosecution case was that Jonathan Rees ordered the killing, Glenn Vian carried out the execution, his brother Garry was the look-out and Jimmy Cook was the getaway driver. Detective sergeant Fillery covered their tracks. The case finally collapsed in 2011 and all except Jimmy Cook sued the Metropolitan Police.
Illustration: Elizabeth Cook, PA

One of the five men originally charged in connection with the murder — James “Jimmy” Cook — did not take part in the civil action.

The remaining four claimed the prosecution against them was motivated by malice by Scotland Yard in general and in particular by the man who led the investigation — Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Dave Cook.

In addition, they claimed DCS Cook was guilty of misfeasance in a public office.

They sought compensation — in the case of Rees and the Vians, including the 22 months they spent on remand.

In the case of Sid Fillery, for the three months he spent in prison before he was released on bail.

♦♦♦

REES, FILLERY and the Vians based their claim on the way police handled two witnesses.

One was a professional drug dealer called James Ward.

The claimants argued that Ward had been coached in his evidence by DCS Cook.

They also claimed police deliberately suppressed material about Ward which was favourable to the defence.

Ward had a history of informing on other criminals to get reduced prison sentences.

David Whitehouse QC, for Glenn Vian, said Ward:

dave_cook_200

DCS DAVE COOK
THE EXPERIENCED murder detective was the senior investigating officer in the fourth and fifth attempts to bring Daniel Morgan’s murderers to book. When he left the Met in 2007 to join the Serious Organised Crime Agency he agreed to continue as the lead investigator in the Daniel Morgan case. He retired in 2013. 
Photo: PA

” … is a career criminal who has been able to remain active in crime by playing the informant — he has had relationships, including financial relationships, with police officers.”

He added he “has given information to the police, some of it true some of it not true.”

“The result is the police have been prepared to make representations to judges to seek lighter sentences when he is caught.”

In 1987 — the year Daniel Morgan was murdered — Ward was gaoled for two years instead of the expected seven because of the help he’d given police.

Ward knew Rees, Fillery and the Vians.

By the early 2000s he’d become a millionaire as part of a major drugs smuggling ring which also included Garry Vian.

In 2004 Ward and Garry Vian were caught during Scotland Yard’s Operation Bedingham and remanded in custody in August 2004.

At this point Ward decided to see if he could secure another reduced sentence by turning informant.

He chose the Daniel Morgan murder as his bargaining tool.

In February 2005 he met DCS Cook but made it clear he would not give evidence against Rees and the other suspects:

“That will resolve (sic) in someone’s death, my wife, son, grandchildren,” he said.

“Not worth it,” he concluded.

He was only prepared to give intelligence.

He told DCS Cook that the motive for the murder centred on a multi-million pound drug-dealing ring.

The following exchange took place:

Ward: “Where shall I start?”

DCS Cook:

“Tell me what you know. I’ll give you a head start. It was Glenn with the axe, Garry was there and Jimmy with the car.”

The claimants’ team argued this prompt meant Ward’s evidence had been “deliberately contaminated by [DCS] Cook”.

Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

At that stage, he noted:

“Cook was gathering intelligence not evidence.”

Ward later agreed to give evidence.

Once he was accepted as an “assisting offender” a “sterile corridor” was created between the detectives de-briefing him and the Daniel Morgan murder team.

This was to prevent murder squad detectives influencing witnesses.

The claimants team argued that DCS Cook also had the opportunity to prompt Ward by phone.

Again, Mitting was unimpressed:

John-Mitting

SIR JOHN MITTING
THE HIGH COURT judge heard the civil action brought by Jonathan Rees and the other claimants against the Metropolitan Police.

” … it overlooks the fact that Ward was in prison and so the opportunity for unrestricted and unrecorded phone calls either did not exist or was so diminished as to make the possibility highly unlikely.”

Mitting accepted that the de-brief of Ward was a “textbook” exercise.

♦♦♦

IN JULY 2005 Ward was given a 17 year sentence for the Bedingham offences — Garry Vian was sent down for 14 years.

But Ward’s willingness to give evidence in the Daniel Morgan case saw his sentence drastically reduced.

In March 2007 his 17 year sentence was reduced to five years as a direct consequence of his willingness to give evidence in the Daniel Morgan murder trial.

Part of his de-briefing included “cleansing” his reputation by admitting any criminal activity not known to the police.

He pleaded guilty to a further 13 drugs offences and asked for another nine to be taken into consideration.

For these crimes he was sentenced to a further three years in prison.

Investigators estimated that Ward had made £3.7 million from drugs smuggling.

A separate Proceeds of Crime investigation was also carried out.

Ward was eventually ordered to surrender £633,000.

There was also a money laundering investigation which involved Ward and his wife.

This investigation generated a substantial amount of information including 18 crates of documents which were made available to the murder investigation in 2007.

They were not examined by the murder team — and the prosecution did not disclose them to the defence.

These files included new and damaging evidence about Ward’s activities as an informant.

Then, in 2010, even more damaging documents turned up.

These showed Ward, who was supposed to have “cleansed” his reputation by revealing all his criminality, hadn’t told everything.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD

NEW SCOTLAND YARD
MORE THAN 750,000 pages of documents have been generated in the Daniel Morgan murder case. The failure to track down some of these papers proved to be a major liability in the trial of Jonathan Rees and the other suspects …

The documents included what appeared to be an admission that he ordered the murder of a drug dealer.

In the criminal case, the judge ruled that Ward could not give evidence.

In this year’s “malicious prosecution” action, the claimants’ legal team argued that police had deliberately suppressed this undisclosed material.

Judge Mitting accepted there were errors which displayed “a want of due diligence.”

But he added:

“I reject the suggestion that [detectives] deliberately suppressed material which they knew or believed might have undermined Ward’s evidence.”

♦♦♦

THE SECOND witness was another criminal, Gary Eaton.

The claimants in the “malicious prosecution” action argued that his evidence was also contaminated.

Eaton was a volatile, unstable character with a long history of mental problems.

He had an alcohol problem, a history of lying and often resorted to violence, both against himself and others.

When he met murder investigators in July 2006, he claimed he was offered £50,000 by James “Jimmy” Cook to carry out the murder.

Daniel Morgan was killed because he’d found out about a drugs and money laundering operation.

Sid Fillery “set it up,” Eaton claimed, and Jonathan Rees knew about it.

At this meeting it was clear Eaton either didn’t know about the Vians’ alleged involvement — or wasn’t prepared to say.

In the High Court action, counsel for the claimants pointed to a question from DCS Cook which they said showed him prompting Eaton.

DCS Cook said:

“Give me the names of the brothers.”

Eaton couldn’t identify them.

When Eaton was accepted as an “assisting offender” he was passed to other officers, not connected with the murder investigation, to carry out the debriefing.

As with Ward, there was supposed to be a “sterile corridor” between the de-briefers and the murder team.

In fact, there was constant mobile phone contact between Eaton and DCS Cook.

In September 2006 Eaton dramatically changed his testimony.

He now said that he had been at the Golden Lion at the time of the murder — he was in the pub when he was asked to go outside.

He said he saw Daniel Morgan’s body on the ground.

156_GOLDENLION

MURDER SCENE
THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. Gary Eaton’s late admission that he had been there was not believed by the judge in the criminal case.
Photo: PA

He said Jimmy Cook was in a car which then drove away.

He also now remembered that Glenn Vian was involved — but still couldn’t remember the name of the other brother.

During this period, there were many phone calls between Eaton and DCS Cook  — in breach of the “sterile corridor”.

There were several reports from other officers expressing concern about these contacts.

In the pre-trial hearings in the criminal case, DCS Cook prepared a schedule of the phone calls as he could remember them.

The judge in that case, Sir David Maddison, stated:

“The telephone records now available … indicate direct communication between DCS Cook and Mr Eaton by text and / or phone call on 36 days during this period.”

“… the final version of DCS Cook’s schedule refers to only six days …”

The judge did not find Eaton’s version of events at the Golden Lion credible — and concluded he wasn’t there.

Judge Mitting, in the High Court action, was blunt:

“By prompting a potentially unreliable witness to implicate Glenn and Garry Vian in the Morgan murder and then to conceal the fact that he had done so from the CPS and prosecuting counsel, [DCS] Cook did an act which tended to pervert the course of justice.”

♦♦♦

DCS Cook has always denied coaching Eaton — he says all the calls concerned his welfare and his often turbulent personal life.

Eaton, it was argued, was not a typical witness.

Usually, assisting offenders were in prison, seeking to give evidence against other criminals in return for a reduced sentence.

Eaton was a free man who not only volunteered information about the Daniel Morgan murder but also confessed to a large number of criminal offences.

He also surrendered £80,000 which he said was the proceeds of his criminal activities.

JONATHAN REES


WATCHED … 
JONATHAN REES photographed in the late 1990s outside the offices of Southern Investigations in Thornton Heath. Rees did not realise the premises were bugged — detectives heard him planning to plant drugs on an innocent mother as part of a plot to prove she was an unfit mother. He was gaoled for seven years …
Photo: Metropolitan Police

(In April 2008 Eaton pleaded guilty to a raft of offences and was gaoled for three years.

The offences would normally have attracted a sentence of 28 years.)

Because he was not in prison, it was impossible to observe a sterile corridor — and it wasn’t just DCS Cook he was contacting.

Judge Mitting also noted, in another part of his judgment:

” … I am not persuaded that (DCS) Cook intended that Eaton should give false evidence.”

“I believe it to be inconceivable that Cook gave Eaton a detailed account of what he believed had happened knowing that Eaton had not witnessed it.”

“I strongly suspect that Eaton had said something to Cook which prompted him to believe that Eaton may have been there.”

“The danger in this was that it encouraged an unstable individual with severe personality and psychiatric problems to say what he thought Cook wanted him to say, whether or not it was true.”

Former DCS Cook, by now retired, did not give evidence in this year’s High Court case.

He declined to comment for this article.

♦♦♦

JONATHAN REES was confident he would win the High Court case for “malicious prosecution.” 

But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

When the murder trial collapsed in 2011, Judge Maddison made it clear the case was properly brought.

There were, he said:

” … ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the defendants.”

157_ALASTAIR:ISOBEL

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL
DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay flowers on the spot where Daniel died. It was only the family’s dogged determination that forced Scotland Yard to make a determined effort to catch Daniel’s killers …
Photo: PA

Mitting said that in order to prove they’d been the victims of a “malicious prosecution” the complainants had to prove three things:

— first, that it was the police who were responsible for the prosecution.

In other words, if the Crown Prosecution Service had known DCS Cook had prompted Eaton, the four would not have been charged.

— second, even if it was the police who were the driving force, the claimants also had to show that there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to charge them.

— finally, they had to show that DCS Cook’s actions were motivated by malice.

Judge Mitting found that the claimants case for “malicious prosecution” fell at the first hurdle.

It was not the police who took the decision to prosecute — it was the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The only thing the CPS was not told about was the extent of the calls between DCS Cook and Gary Eaton.

But — even without Eaton — there was plenty of other grounds to prosecute.

Mitting pointed out that, as early as 2002, the opinion of a leading CPS barrister was clear.

The judge quoted a report, written by DCS Cook but accepted as accurate, which said the barrister:

” …  was satisfied that we now know the identity of those responsible for Daniel Morgan’s murder but that the evidence available did not meet the threshold to enable a prosecution to be commenced.”

Mitting ruled that the CPS brought the prosecution — and the “malicious prosecution” argument fell in the case of all four claimants.

♦♦♦

JUDGE MITTING went further.

He added that, even if he had found that it was the police who were responsible for the prosecution, the claimants still had to prove there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to bring the case.

There was, he concluded, “reasonable and probable cause” to charge Rees and the Vians.

He examined the evidence against each:

Jonathan Rees

“The undisputed starting point for the case against Rees,” Mitting noted, was the fact he arranged the fatal rendezvous with Daniel Morgan.

In addition, “inconsistencies” in his accounts of his movements and telephone calls on the night of the murder were evidence Rees had something to conceal.

Kevin Lennon, Rees’ book-keeper, said Rees had told him on several occasions he planned to have Daniel Morgan murdered.

The “key evidence” was that of Andrew Docherty, the former partner of Glenn and Garry Vian’s mother, Patricia.

He worked occasionally for Rees and Fillery and, on one occasion, saw Rees give Glenn Vian £8,000 in cash which Glenn told Docherty was part-payment for the murder.

Glenn Vian

James Ward said that in 1993 or 1994 Glenn Vian told him he had killed Morgan and Jimmy Cook was the getaway driver.

GLENN VIAN

AXEMAN?
GLENN VIAN was the man the prosecution claimed had murdered Daniel Morgan. His defence team argued that Scotland Yard had failed to follow up 40 other possible suspects …
Photo: PA

Glenn called it the “Golden Wonder murder” because Daniel was holding two packets of crisps when he was slaughtered.

Ward said that in 2001 or 2002 he was in Garry Vian’s kitchen when a violent incident took place.

Also pesent were Glenn and Garry Vian and Jonathan Rees.

There was an argument about Rees’ ex-wife who was the sister of the Vians.

Ward claimed that during the row Glenn Vian picked up a knife and cut Jonathan Rees across the face.

Ward said that Garry Vian then said to Glenn:

“That’s fucked that — I was going to ask him for some more money off the Morgan thing.”

There was supporting evidence in the form of a bugged conversation between Glenn Vian and his brother Garry in October 2002 about shooting someone.

Background noises suggested they had a shotgun in their possession.

Judge Mitting said:

“I have heard the relevant portion of the recording and do not accept that an innocent construction can be placed upon it.”

“This was admissible evidence of a propensity on the part of both to use lethal violence.”

Garry Vian

In addition to the evidence about the shotgun, another witness claimed Garry Vian told him he was present during the murder.

A man called Terry Jones, who knew the Vians, said Garry Vian had told him Daniel Morgan had been murdered because he was looking into the drug-dealing operation  — and knew too much.

Sid Fillery

Only in the case of the retired Scotland Yard detective did Judge Mitting conclude there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to charge him.

SID FILLERY

WINNER … 
SID FILLERY (pictured) is one the major financial beneficiaries of the Daniel Morgan murder. When police realised the detective sergeant had contaminated the original inquiry in 1987, they should have prosecuted him. Even if a jury had declined to convict him, the force had considerable disciplinary powers to punish him. He could have been dismissed from the force and stripped of his fully-funded police pension. Instead, he was allowed to resign on medical grounds. Now he will be awarded a substantial compensation package for the failed fifth investigation of the Daniel Morgan murder. He has not escaped scot free, however: he spent three months in prison on remand and his career as a private detective — as well as his personal reputation — was destroyed in 2002 when his computer was found to contain extreme images of the sexual abuse of children …
Photo: PA

Eaton was the only witness against him, and although DCS Cook did not prompt Eaton in relation to Fillery, Eaton was a tainted witness.

Mitting also examined the issue of personal malice on the part of DCS Cook — the third of the three elements the claimants had to prove .

Mitting said:

“I am satisfied that, even if Cook’s methods are open to criticism, his motive was not: it was to bring those he believed to have been complicit in the Morgan murder and in covering it up to justice.”

♦♦♦

JUDGE MITTING then moved to the claim that DCS Cook was guilty of “misfeasance in public office” in his dealings with Eaton.

He ruled that Rees and the Vians would have been charged even if Eaton had never come forward — so the misfeasance made no difference to the conduct of their case.

Only in the case of Fillery did he find “misfeasance in public office” had led to a prosecution, including a term of imprisonment on remand, which would not have happened without DCS Cook’s action.

He said:

“It follows that his claim for damages for misfeasance in public office succeeds in full.”

Filly will receive substantial damages.

♦♦♦

AFTER THE collapse of his criminal trial for murder in 2011, Jonathan Rees issued a statement.

“I want a judicial inquiry,” he said, “ideally a public inquiry.”

“When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business.”

“Whatever anyone may say on 10th March 1987 I lost a friend and business partner.”

In 2011 his lawyer told us:

“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”

“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or others.”

For this article, we emailed the solicitor acting for Jonathan Rees, Sidney Fillery and Glenn Vian.

There was no reply by the time this article was published.

The lawyer acting for Garry Vian said:

“I am afraid that I cannot discuss the case with you.”

♦♦♦

ONE OF the arguments put forward by the claimants in the High Court action was that scores of possible suspects were not investigated because of Scotland Yard’s obsession with Rees and his co-accused.

However, no credible alternative suspect has ever been named.

This is despite the fact that Jonathan Rees and Sidney Fillery were experienced detectives with extensive contacts in both the Metropolitan Police and Fleet Street.

There’s no evidence they ever mounted a serious campaign to catch the killer.

This is in stark contrast to Alastair Morgan, the dead man’s brother, whose dogged campaigning led to four police investigations following the contaminated first inquiry.

He also shamed the government into setting up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, which is due to report later this year.

♦♦♦

SO WHY was Daniel Morgan killed?

There have always been three main theories.

The first is the rivalry between the dead man and Jonathan Rees over Margaret Harrison — the woman who had an affair with Daniel Morgan before becoming Rees’ long-term partner.

The second is the friction between the two men over the Belmont Car Auction “robbery’.

Rees organised security for the company but, when he claimed he’d been mugged and £18,000 stolen, the firm didn’t believe him — and sued for recovery of the money.

For nearly two decades these two motives were favoured by murder detectives.

DANIEL MORGAN

DANIEL MORGAN
IN ALL probability no-one will ever be convicted of killing the 37-year-old father of two. Was he axed to death because he was planning to sell a story about a major drugs racket — also involving Scotland Yard detectives — to a national newspaper?
Photo: Morgan family

But there are problems with both.

Although Daniel Morgan had an affair with Margaret Harrison there’s no evidence he was seriously interested in her.

Witnesses never saw any public arguments between Jonathan Rees and Daniel Morgan over Harrison.

The problem with the Belmont Car Auction theory is the discrepancy between the amount at risk — the £18,000 “stolen” from Rees — and the cost of the killing, apparently somewhere between £20-£25,000.

Surely it would have been cheaper — and safer — to simply return the £18,000?

The mounting friction between Rees and Morgan could have been settled by dissolving their partnership.

There’s always been a third theory — that Daniel Morgan had stumbled on a story involving police corruption and was trying to sell it to national newspapers.

The initial murder investigation didn’t credit the story because Daniel Morgan claimed he was going to get £40,000 for it — a sum so large that the theory seemed absurd.

But during the fifth murder investigation, murder detectives began to change their minds.

The key witness was James Ward — the criminal drug dealer turned supergrass — who was in business with Garry Vian, one of the accused.

Ward was discredited as a witness in the criminal trial but there’s no doubt about the scale of the enterprise he was engaged in.

Ward was just one of the gang — yet investigators estimated he made a fortune of nearly £4 million.

If Ward is correct in his claim that Daniel Morgan had stumbled on the gang and was planning to expose it, then a powerful motive to get rid of him emerges.

A £20-25,000 murder contract would be small beer to an enterprise generating millions of pounds worth of profits.

A sentence for killing him wouldn’t be much higher than a 20-30 year sentence for being a member of a major UK drugs dealing operation.

And if corrupt police officers were also involved, there would be another powerful incentive to get rid of the troublesome private eye …

♦♦♦
Published: 3 April 2017
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

Notes
1
Until this year’s High Court action, Garry Vian’s first name has always been spelt as “Gary”.
2
The judgment in Rees v Commissioner can be read, in full, here.
3
This article is based on a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011. The site is no longer available.
Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments.
Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said (as reported above):
“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”
“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or others.”
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
4
There are currently six parts to The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency:
An Axe To Grind
Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers
Porridge
Getting Away With Murder
The Business Of Murder [this article]
Private Eye — A Stab In The Back
See also the Daniel Morgan page.
5
The series draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as published material by other journalists, notably Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers: The Inside Story of Scotland Yard’s Battle Against Police Corruption (Orion). It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s Untouchables: Dirty Cops, Bent Justice and Racism In Scotland Yard (Cutting Edge, 2004). Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack (Chatto & Windus, 2014) , Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch (Allen Lane, 2012) and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch (Unbound, 2012). Peter Jukes has also produced a podcast series — listened to by more than 4 million people — Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder. Since this article was published, Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes have published the book Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed. The Press Gang review can be read here.
6
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.

♦♦♦

NEXT
PRIVATE EYE — A STAB IN THE BACK 
Press Gang examines how Private Eye reported the events covered in The Business Of Murder. We have serious concerns that four articles published in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back” are so misleading they amount to rogue journalism. Read this piece here.

♦♦♦

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PRIVATE EYE: SHAMELESS

March 11, 2017

 

Private_Eye_head_a

FOR DECADES Private Eye has hammered Britain’s national press in its celebrated Street of Shame column.

The magazine has pilloried the hypocrisy that often passes for news in papers owned by Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere.

But now Parliament plans to curb the power of media billionaires, the Eye is supporting them.

Editor Ian Hislop has joined the chorus of protest at the proposed introduction of a key component of the bid to make newspapers more accountable.

Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 makes publishers potentially liable for all costs in libel actions if they are not members of a regulator approved by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP).

The Panel was established by Royal Charter in 2013 following the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.

The Royal Charter can only be amended by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament — and with the unanimous approval of the members of the Panel itself.

The Panel is not a regulator — its board only has the power recognise independent regulators who meet the conditions laid out in the Royal Charter.

This mechanism insulates regulators from the influence of politicians.

private-eye-logo

In October 2016 the Panel recognised the regulator Impress which is funded by charities controlled by the businessman Max Mosley.

Mosley plays no part in the running of the organisation.

The decision to recognise Impress makes it possible to introduce Section 40 and the government are now consulting on whether it should to do so.

Press Gang and its sister website Rebecca are both in the process of joining Impress.

No national publisher has signed up to Impress.

Instead, the Murdoch papers (Times, Sun and Sunday Times), the Daily MailTelegraphMirror and Express have created the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

This is a reworking of the old Press Complaints Commissions — heavily discredited in the hacking scandal.

IPSO has not applied to the Press Recognition Panel to become a recognised regulator.

A series of newspapers — the Financial TimesGuardianObserverIndependentEvening Standard — have decided not to join either IPSO or Impress.

They have their own in-house arrangements for  complaints.

Private Eye, which has traditionally refused to join any regulator, openly admits it has no code of conduct or written editorial guidelines.

It handles complaints internally and informally.

♦♦♦

IN THE week when IMPRESS was recognised Private Eye was celebrating a major victory.

Retired North Wales police superintendent Gordon Anglesea was gaoled in October 2016 on historic child abuse charges.

In the early 1990s the Eye, HTV, the Observer and the Independent on Sunday claimed Anglesea was a child abuser..

In 1994 Anglesea won a libel action and the four media companies paid him £375,000 in damages — and had to pay his legal costs as well as their own.

When Anglesea was gaoled, the Eye [28 October 2016) claimed Section 40 would make it “easier for any future Anglesea to sue publications like Private Eye with impunity.”

gordon-anglesea-custody-picture-confirmed-by-alan-norbury-8-9-16

GORDON ANGLESEA
IT IS deeply ironic Private Eye should use the case of Gordon Anglesea to bolster its case against Section 40. In fact, having had its fingers burnt in the libel action in 1994, the Eye largely turned its back on the North Wales child abuse scandal. It was left to Rebecca, the sister website of Press Gang, to carry the torch of investigative journalism into this dark corner of British history. In 2010 Rebecca began publishing the results of a decade’s research, exposing the failure of the £14 million North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal to find out what really happened. For more on this campaign, see here
Photo: National Crime Agency

This is, according to the Eye, because Section 40 states that if a publisher who is not a member of a recognised regulator “the court must award costs against the defendant.”

“In plain English,” the Eye continues, “even if we won the case, we would still have to pay all the bills.”

This is nonsense — and Eye editor Ian Hislop knows it.

Section 40 does indeed say “the court must award costs against the defendant” but it also immediately goes on to say:

“unless … it is just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case to award costs against the defendant.”

In other words, it depends on the circumstances and it is the judge who has the final say.

In a case where a newspaper or magazine wins a libel action against an alleged child abuser, it is inconceivable it would be forced to pay the paedophile’s legal bill.

The Eye’s biased portrayal of the act is the type of propaganda its “Street of Shame” column lampoons when it appears in the Daily MailTelegraph and the Sun ...

♦♦♦

PRIVATE EYE also subscribes to the view that Section 40 would stifle investigative journalism.

It has relaunched the £5,000 Paul Foot Award and describes it in these terms:

“In honour of Section 40 … Private Eye is once again awarding a prize for investigative or campaigning journalism in the memory of Paul Foot.”

In other words, the relaunching of the Paul Foot Award is also an attack on Section 40.

But Section 40 is not a threat to investigative journalism.

The part of Section 40 which the Eye misrepresented also has a similar clause protecting investigative journalists working for a recognised regulator.

PAUL FOOT AWARDA recognised regulator has to have a cheap and efficient arbitration service to try to settle complaints.

If a complainant could use the regulator’s arbitration service but chooses to go to court instead, then — even if he or she wins the case — the  judge has the power to make them pay their own costs.

This is why Press Gang is joining Impress.

For more than 30 years editor Paddy French has been an investigative reporter.

He founded Rebecca as a magazine in 1973 and its Corruption Supplement saw many of the councillors and businessmen it exposed go to prison.

Several Rebecca investigations were picked up by the Sunday Times when Harry Evans was editor, before Rupert Murdoch bought the title.

French also worked as an independent TV producer making investigative programmes for ITV and BBC.

In 1994 he produced, with the late Ray Fitzwalter, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Privateers on Parade about the de-nationalisation of Britain’s utilities.

Independent broadcasting has always been subject to regulation by a body created by but independent of Parliament.

“Throughout my career in television,” says French, “I was subject to regulation, first by the Independent Broadcasting Authority and then, after 2002, by Ofcom.”

“These were demanding regulators policed by in-house legal teams.”

“Far from stifling investigations, the effect was to produce bullet-proof programmes — maintaining high standards is one of the reasons I have never been successfully sued.”

“What is being proposed for newspapers is similar to the regime for broadcasters.”

“Press regulation will liberate investigative journalism and curb the arbitrary of billionaire proprietors.”

“It’s very sad that Private Eye — an absolutely essential critic of the mainstream press — should now be getting into bed with the worst of them.”

♦♦♦

FOR SOME months the anti-Section 40 propaganda machine has dominated the national debate.

But this is beginning to change.

The powerful cross-party House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee recently responded to the government’s consultation on Section 40.

It criticised the media campaign against it:

“some of the arguments put forward were, in our view, unconvincing and misleading …”

Attacking the Devil premiere - London

SIR HARRY EVANS
THE MANCHESTER-BORN journalist edited the Sunday Times between 1967 and 1981.The paper was recognised as one of the world’s leading campaigning and investigative newspapers, famous for its investigative “Insight” team and its relentless campaign to get justice for the victims of the thalidomide scandal. Evans calls on the Guardian and the Financial Times to join Impress.
Photo: PA

It, too, rejects the argument Section 40 will have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism:

“… the high-profile press campaign has also not set out the benefits which commencement of Section 40 would have in protecting publishers, editors and journalists if they were part of [a recognised regulator] and therefore reducing the chilling effect of high court costs on investigative journalism”

At the beginning of March, former Sunday Times editor Sir Harry Evans became a patron of Impress.

Impress is a tremendous impetus and safeguard for investigative journalism,”he said.

Evans added:

“I support these proposals for a regulator that would be wholly independent of government or commercial interests, committed only to enhancing the standards of the British press.

“The dual purpose of discouraging abuses and resisting encroachments on an essential liberty is altogether necessary to restore public confidence.”

“It’s a necessary condition of the freedom of the press to act in the public interest.”

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Published: 11 March 2017
© Press Gang
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Note
See also the Private Eye page.

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NEXT
A STAB IN THE BACK 
Press Gang examines the Private Eye coverage of the latest stage in the scandal of  the unsolved 1987 murder of the private detective Daniel Morgan. This month four of the prime suspects lost their High Court action against the Metropolitan Police for maliciously prosecuting them in connection with the murder. One of them, a retired Scotland Yard detective, will receive substantial damages for misfeasance in public office. Press Gang believes four articles in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back” on this case are seriously misleading  …

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