IN MAY 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May announced a judge-led inquiry into the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.
Her decision came two years after the prosecution of five suspects collapsed at the Old Bailey.
Five separate police investigations had failed to bring the killers to book.
The Home Secretary said:
“The horrific murder of Daniel Morgan and subsequent investigations were dogged by serious allegations of police corruption.”
This article — the first in The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency series — lays bare the extraordinary sequence of events that lies behind that statement.
It reads like pulp fiction.
Except it’s true …
THE STORY starts in the car-park of a pub in south London in 1987.
Private detective Daniel Morgan leaves the Golden Lion in Sydenham and is walking to his car.
It’s just after nine o’clock in the evening.
He’s carrying crisps for his young children.
A meeting with Jonathan Rees — his partner in the private detective agency Southern Investigations — has just ended.
In the weeks before this meeting, the two men have been arguing about a security operation that went wrong.
Rees arranged to handle the security for a car auction business only to be robbed of more than £18,000 in cash.
The owners of the car auction are not satisfied with Rees’ explanation — that he was mugged — and start legal proceedings to recover their money.
Southern Investigations does not have insurance to carry cash.
Morgan, who didn’t want anything to do with the job, is unhappy that he should have to pay half the bill.
Rees leaves the pub before Morgan.
He’s parked at the front of the building.
When Morgan walks to the car-park, a man attacks the father of two with an axe.
The attack is so ferocious that the axe is buried deep in the dead man’s face.
More than two decades later five men will be charged in connection with the murder.
The prosecution case is that the man who wields the axe is Glenn Vian.
The man who acts as look-out is Gary Vian.
The Vians are Rees brothers-in-law.
He uses them as part-time security guards.
Private detective Jonathan Rees is the bait to get Morgan to the pub.
The man who drives the getaway car is Jimmy Cook, an occasional employee of Southern Investigations.
Retired Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery is the last of the defendants.
He will be accused of perverting the course of justice …
SID FILLERY is one of the key players in the Daniel Morgan scandal.
Fillery is a friend of Rees — and one of the first detectives on the case.
He’s based at Catford Police Station — its patch includes the Golden Lion.
For several days he will not tell his bosses that Rees and the dead man were arguing about the car auction robbery.
Fillery does not tell his superiors that he and officers from Catford have been moonlighting as security guards for Rees.
Or that it was Fillery himself who brought the car auction business and Rees together.
Shortly after the murder, Fillery will retire from the police and step into the dead man’s shoes as Jonathan Rees’ new partner.
In 2008 all five men will be arrested in connection with the murder.
But the case never goes to trial — a series of pre-trial hearings results in the court refusing to admit the evidence of prosecution witnesses.
The case finally collapses in March 2011.
DANIEL MORGAN set up Southern Investigations in 1984.
He’d learnt the business working for the Croydon detective agency Madagans.
Later he was joined by another private detective, Jonathan Rees.
But the two men were chalk and cheese.
Morgan was a hard-working loner with a reputation as a womaniser.
Rees was sociable and liked to spend time in the pub with his mates — many of them policemen.
Tensions built up between the two.
Daniel saw himself as a grafter and complained he was doing the lion’s share of the work.
He talked to his older brother Alastair about these tensions:
“I remember him saying to me once — I drove 40,000 miles last year and that guy hangs around in a bar drinking with his CID mates”.
“He was upset about it”.
Rees liked the company of police detectives — one of his closest friends was Sid Fillery.
The two men were freemasons.
They often attended an unofficial lunch club at the Croydon Masonic Hall for serving and retired police officers and their friends.
It was called “Brothers in Law”.
THE YEAR before the murder Rees took a job organising the security for a local firm called Belmont Car Auctions in Charlton.
The firm had recently been robbed of £17,000 and wanted better protection at the site.
One of the directors was related to a local policeman who introduced him to Fillery.
Fillery suggested he get in touch with Rees.
Rees recruited police officer friends, including Sid Fillery, to help out during the auctions.
He also employed his brothers-in-law Glenn and Gary Vian.
One night in March 1986 Rees took £18,000 in takings which he intended to deposit in a Midland Bank nightsafe.
He said the nightsafe had been superglued shut and decided to take the money home.
He claimed that after he parked his car, he was attacked by two men.
Liquid was sprayed in his eyes and the money stolen.
He was taken to hospital for treatment.
One of the detectives who investigated the alleged robbery was detective constable Duncan Hanrahan.
Hanrahan — another freemason who attended the “Brothers in Law” club and knew Rees and Fillery — would later be gaoled for corruption.
Hanrahan’s report of the robbery noted:
“To attack somebody outside his house and get £18,000 … you would have to be the luckiest mugger in the world.”
But police inquiries were superficial and the investigation went nowhere.
No-one was ever charged for the alleged robbery.
Belmont Car Auctions didn’t believe Jonathan Rees’ story — and started legal proceedings to recover its money.
Morgan was furious.
He felt Rees should pay the money rather than Southern Investigations.
The night before the murder, Morgan, Rees and Fillery met at the Golden Lion to discuss the issue.
Off-duty police officers later joined them for a drink.
The next night, after meeting former lover and estate agent Margaret Harrison, Daniel again met Rees at the Golden Lion.
Rees, who had parked in front of the pub, left first.
When Daniel left, he was murdered.
TWO DAYS after the murder Alastair Morgan went to Catford Police Station.
He wanted to tell them he was convinced the events surrounding the Belmont Car Auction affair were the key to solving the case.
The detective he talked to was detective sergeant Sid Fillery.
Alastair Morgan had no idea that the police officer was a close friend of Rees.
“I remember explaining to him that I thought Daniel may have found out something about that robbery and had been murdered as a result of that.”
“And he said to me — what robbery was that then?”
Fillery has always denied this conversation ever took place.
In fact, Fillery was the first person to interview Jonathan Rees — he also asked Rees to identify the dead man.
Fillery did not tell his superiors that he not only knew about the Belmont Car Auction affair but that he and other officers had been moonlighting for Southern Investigations.
Fillery also visited the offices of Southern Investigations as part of his inquiries.
Later, it became clear that several files, including the one on Belmont Car Auctions, were missing.
Fillery was on the investigation for four days.
The man leading the inquiry, detective superintendent Douglas Campbell, was furious when he discovered Fillery’s connection with Rees.
He arrested Fillery and police constables Peter Foley and Alan Purvis who he believed had also moonlighted on the Belmont Car Auctions security operation.
He also arrested Jonathan Rees and the Vian brothers.
All were later released without charge.
The Metropolitan Police later paid compensation to PCs Foley and Purvis for wrongful arrest.
By the time the inquest took place a year later, Sid Fillery had retired on medical grounds.
He quietly stepped into Daniel Morgan’s shoes as Jonathan Rees’ new partner …
THE INQUEST was to be one of the most explosive in British history.
Kevin Lennon, the book-keeper for Southern Investigations, gave sensational evidence.
He said Jonathan Rees told him he wanted Daniel Morgan dead.
Lennon told the coroner that Rees “asked me to find someone to kill Morgan.”
“He asked me this on at least two occasions.”
“He was of the impression that I knew people who could or would be willing to kill Morgan.”
“On each occasion I attempted to dissuade Rees from considering such a course of action.”
“He was adamant that he wanted Morgan killed.”
In a later conversation at the Victory pub in Thornton Heath he alleged Jonathan Rees told him he’d solved the problem.
“He said words to the effect, ‘Forget about arranging his death, I’ve got it fixed … ‘.”
“He explained that police officers who were friends of his based at Catford were capable and willing to organise it.”
He also said Rees later told him, again in the Victory pub, he had a new partner in mind once Morgan was dead:
“ … Fillery was to take Morgan’s place after his death.”
“He was to get an ill-health pension or medical discharge.”
“He and Fillery were, according to Rees, very close and that nothing would be better to Rees than for Fillery to join in the company.”
It was Lennon who first revealed the fact that Fillery was now working with Rees.
Lennon said that Rees had discussed the murder with his wife Sharon Rees — the sister of the Vian brothers.
She sent the coroner a note to say she wasn’t mentally fit to give evidence.
The next day she was photographed out shopping by the Daily Mirror.
THE MAN in charge of the murder investigation also gave evidence.
Detective superintendent Douglas Campbell accepted Fillery’s actions in the days after the murder had seriously undermined the inquiry.
He also told the inquest that Daniel had been talking about blowing the whistle on police corruption in south London.
“I could find no evidence at all.”
“It was a suggestion that he had a story to sell to a newspaper.”
“I spoke to the other persons concerned.”
“I even went to the newspaper but if I told you what he was offered you would see it was quite ludicrous.”
“He was alleged to have been offered £250,000 per story.”
Campbell didn’t reveal the name of the newspaper that Morgan went to.
Now retired, he’s always declined to be interviewed about the murder investigation.
In fact, the evidence now points to the fact that Daniel Morgan may have approached several papers.
A former private eye who knew the murdered man says he told him he was going to see a reporter on the News of the World.
That reporter was Alex Marunchak and that the story was about police corruption.
The figure discussed was £40,000 — an enormous sum of money in those days.
Marunchak insists he never met the murdered man.
The inquest also heard from Margaret Harrison – the woman Daniel Morgan met the night of the murder.
She had received more than 60 phone calls from Jonathan Rees in the months leading up to the killing.
She denied she was having an affair with Rees at the time Daniel Morgan was killed.
Later she and Rees shared a house in south London.
They are still together, co-owners of a property in Weybridge, Surrey.
The inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
Alastair Morgan and his family were stunned when the police took no action after the inquest.
They began a long campaign to bring Daniel’s murderers to book.
It’s a campaign that was to drag the Murdoch-owned News of the World into the mystery…
There have been recent developments in this affair — see http://wp.me/P3kXx7-8K for more details.
This article is part 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 other.”
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
This article draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as by other journalists, especially Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC journalist Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers. It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s The Untouchables. Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack, Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch.
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.
Published: 27 January 2015
© Press Gang
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Tags: Alastair Morgan, Alex Marunchak, Andy Coulson, Det Supt Douglas Campbell, Duncan Hanrahan, Gary Vian, Glenn Vian, Jimmy Cook, Jonathan Rees, Kevin Lennon, Margaret Harrison, News of the World, Press Gang, Sid Fillery, Southern Investigations, Theresa May, WPLongform