GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER

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WHEN JONATHAN Rees was released from prison in 2004 he was shunned by most of the media.

He’d just completed a seven year sentence for a conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman.

Even his former close contact, Gary Jones at the Daily Mirror, would have nothing to do with him.

But the News of the World, as ever, danced to a different tune.

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THE STORY SO FAR …
PRIVATE EYE Jonathan Rees (left) should have been a prime suspect in the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan in 1987 — the two men were love rivals and were arguing about a botched security operation. But Rees’ friend, Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right), kept that crucial information — and his involvement  in the 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 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 drugs 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  But Scotland Yard hadn’t finished with the two men … 
Photos: PA

BBC journalist Robert Peston — who had close links to the Murdoch organisation — revealed that from October 2005 to September 2006 the paper paid Rees around £6,000.

The editor of the News of the World employing a convicted criminal was Andy Coulson.

The relationship came to an end with the conviction of the News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman and private eye Glen Mulcaire in 2007.

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THIS 3,000 word article is the fourth instalment of an investigation 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 Southern Investigations.
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The News of the World position at the time was that Goodman was a single “rogue reporter”.

When Goodman was gaoled, Coulson resigned from the News of the World — and went on to become David Cameron’s controversial press secretary.

Coulson was given an 18 months prison sentence in July 2014 for his part in the hacking scandal.

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Just after Jonathan Rees came out of prison in 2004, two of ITV’s regional current affairs strands — the London Programme and Wales This Week — combined resources to make documentaries about the murder of Daniel Morgan.

At the time Press Gang editor Paddy French worked for ITV Wales as a producer on the Wales This Week programme.

He carried out a doorstep on Jonathan Rees at his south London home.

“It was one of the most disturbing doorsteps I’ve ever done,” said French.

“We were on station early in the morning outside the house in Thornton Heath where Rees lived, waiting for him to come out.”

“But right from the start we felt we were also being watched — the same car cruised past us several times.”

“Eventually, after moving our position several times, we saw Rees leaving — he must have thought the coast was clear. As soon as he saw us, however, he went back into the house.”

“We didn’t give up. We left the area for some time and then came back for a second attempt. As the cameraman and I were waiting, I turned round and saw a man watching us.”

MAN WATCHING 12

WATCHER
WHEN ITV Wales were staking out Jonathan Rees’ south London home in 2004, they were being watched by an associate of Rees. He’s never been identified …
Photo: ITV Wales

“That wasn’t the end of the tale.”

“That evening we had two phone calls from the Metropolitan Police warning us that if we went back to the house, we would be arrested for harassing Jonathan Rees.”

“I made it clear that we were doing no such thing — and their threats were an infringement of press freedom.”

“They insisted that if we returned to Rees’ home, they would arrest us.”

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FOUR YEARS after he was released from prison, Rees was back behind bars.

In April 2008 he was arrested and charged with the murder of Daniel Morgan.

Charged with him were his former brothers-in-law Glenn and Gary Vian and ex-Southern Investigations employee Jimmy Cook.

Gary Vian was already serving a long sentence for drug smuggling offences.

The others were to spend 22 months in prison on remand before they were allowed bail.

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SUSPECTS
AN ARTIST’S impression of the five men in the dock charged in connection with the Daniel Morgan murder. From left to right, Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian, Sid Fillery, Gary Vian and James “Jimmy” Cook.
Illustration: Elizabeth Cook, PA

Former detective sergeant Sid Fillery was charged with perverting the course of justice.

He spent just over three months in gaol on remand.

The charges were the result of the fifth attempt to bring Daniel Morgan’s murderers to book.

The man who headed the inquiry was Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook.

The prosecution case was largely based on evidence coming from criminal associates of the five men.

This was a high-risk strategy but no other avenue remained.

The prosecution said Jonathan Rees ordered the killing and Glenn Vian carried it out.

His brother Gary was the lookout and Jonathan Rees lured Daniel Morgan to the pub where the murder was to be carried out.

Jimmy Cook, who was employed by Southern Investigations at the time, was the driver of the getaway car.

As a serving officer, Sid Fillery warned one of the witnesses to keep quiet about the murder — or he would suffer a similar fate.

The defence argued that prosecution witnesses were unreliable and should not be allowed to give evidence.

They claimed police officers coached witness and deliberately with-held documents favourable to the defence.

The judge in the case, Sir David Maddison, agreed with many of these arguments.

GLENN VIAN

GLENN VIAN
THE MAN the prosecution claimed had axed Daniel Morgan to death. Vian, it was alleged, was paid by Jonathan Rees. His defence team claimed 40 other possible suspects were not investigated properly.
Photo: PA

One key witness, Gary Eaton, was a career criminal with convictions for drugs dealing, armed robbery, blackmail, firearms offences, violence against women and conspiracy to murder.

He claimed he’d been asked to commit the murder.

But, although he admitted more than 20 serious offences and voluntarily surrendered £80,000 of his criminal proceeds, much of his testimony was found to be unreliable.

He falsely claimed his father was dead and that he’d served in the Falklands.

He was not allowed to give evidence.

Since he was the only witness against Sid Fillery — he claimed the former police sergeant had told him to keep his mouth shut or what had happened to Daniel Morgan would happen to him — Fillery was released.

Judge Maddison criticised DCS Dave Cook for his handling of Eaton.

Once Eaton was accepted as an “assisting offender” under the 2005 Serious and Organised Crime and Policing Act, the rules required that he be dealt with by officers not involved in the murder investigation.

DCS Cook was not supposed to have any contact with him.

But there were phone calls and texts between Cook and Eaton, many of which were not disclosed.

Cook insisted the calls concerned Eaton’s welfare.

Another witness was Jimmy Cook’s former girlfriend.

She said he’d told her Rees organised the killing, using the Vians as the muscle and himself as the getaway driver.

But she also said she knew where the bodies of another 30 murder victims could be found.

Detectives were unable to find any evidence to support her claims.

She, too, was excluded — this led to the release of Jimmy Cook.

Finally, the credibility of another key witness, James Ward — a criminal associate of Gary Vian’s — was undermined when his claim that he’d never been a police informant turned out to be untrue.

Ward was already serving a 17 year prison sentence for drug smuggling.

Also gaoled in the same case was Gary Vian, who got 14 years.

Ward claimed Glenn Vian had told him he killed Morgan.

Ward said Vian called it the “Golden Wonder” murder because the dead man was holding two packets of crisps.

Ward said Glenn Vian said the price was  £20,000.

The defence accused DCS Cook of  prompting Ward in an early interview.

David Whitehouse QC, for Glenn Vian, said Ward

“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 judge to seek lighter sentences when he is caught.”

Ward’s 17 year drugs sentence was reduced to three because of his assistance in the Daniel Morgan case.

When a large number of documents in the case were discovered which had not been disclosed to the defence, the CPS and the Metropolitan Police decided to throw in the towel.

In March 2011, Jonathan Rees and the Vian brother left the dock free men.

The case never went before a jury.

Scotland Yard had failed in its efforts to bring a conclusion to the Daniel Morgan murder.

The judge in the case, David Maddison, made it clear police

” … had ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the defendants.”

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

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.

Godwin continued:

“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.”

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IN MARCH 2011 the BBC Panorama programme carried out an investigation into one of Rees’ assignments for the News of the World after he came out of prison.

Rees had been asked to try to find information about a former British Army intelligence officer, Ian Hurst.

This was part of the paper’s attempts to uncover the identity of a key undercover intelligence officer — known as Stakeknife — who had infiltrated the IRA.

The programme alleged that Rees commissioned a former colleague of Hurst’s to hack into Hurst’s computer.

In July 2006 a fax was sent to Alex Marunchak, then the editor of the Irish edition of the News of the World, based in Dublin.

Panorama said the fax contained copies of emails that Hurst had sent from his computer in France.

This interception was illegal.

Ian Hurst arranged a meeting with his former colleague — who cannot be named for legal reasons — and recorded him admitting the offence.

He said that he had sent an email containing a ‘trojan’, a virus that allowed him to see the entire contents of Hurst’s computer.

Panorama doorstepped Rees about his activities outside the Old Bailey after the charges of murdering Daniel Morgan were dropped in March 2011.

Rees asked Panorama reporter Vivian White if the programme paid police officers for information:

“Are you denying you paid serving police officers? Because you’ve got information that could only have come from serving police officers.”

Vivian White said:

“Unlike Jonathan Rees, Panorama had not paid any police officers for information. We do know the police were fully aware that Rees had been involved in computer hacking. The question is — why didn’t the Metropolitan Police pursue this as well?”

Alex Marunchak gave an interview about the Panorama allegations to the UK Press Gazette.

He said the unnamed private detective who told the programme he had hacked into Ian Hurst’s computer was a “con-man”.

Of the fax sent to his Dublin office containing e-mails from Ian Hurst’s computer, he stated:

“It is absolutely untrue any unlawfully obtained material was ever received by me at the News of the World offices in Dublin.”

He insisted he never paid police officers:

“I deny ever facilitating the payment of any money to police officers.”

He denied commissioning work from Rees after his conviction:

“This is untrue. Information offered and brought in by sources of their own volition is not the same thing as being commissioned to obtain it in the first place.”

Marunchak said of Rees’ 2000 conviction for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman:

“The conviction and sentence to which you refer, as I understand it, is currently being examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission  … to assess if convictions should be referred to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration on the grounds that the original conviction was unsafe.”

(For this article, Press Gang asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a statement.

A spokesman said:

“I can confirm that the CCRC received an application from Jonathan Rees in April 2007, in respect of his December 2000 conviction for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.”

“The CCRC review was concluded in August 2013 and the case was closed.”

“It was not referred to the Court of Appeal.”)

The Panorama allegation was investigated by Operation Tuleta, part of Scotland Yard’s phone-hacking operation.

No charges were ever brought.

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JONATHAN REES denies all the allegations made in this Press Gang article.

His solicitor gave us the following statement in 2011.

“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.”

At the first session of Lord Leveson’s inquiry into press ethics Rees’ barrister, Richard Christie, argued that his client should be considered a “core participant” and be allowed legal representation at public expense.

Christie pointed out that if his client was to give out material from an unused prosecution case against him he was committing a criminal offence, with up to two years imprisonment.

If the media used exactly the same information, there was no penalty at all.

Lord Leveson refused the application.

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NEXT
PART FIVE: THE BUSINESS OF MURDER
AFTER THE collapse of the criminal case against him in 2011, Jonathan Rees went on the offensive. He, Sid Fillery and the Vian brothers brought a High Court action against Scotland Yard complaining of malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office. The four men were confident they would succeed — but in February 2017 Judge Mitting dismissed all the claims made by Rees and the Vians. Fillery succeeded in his action for misfeasance in public office and will receive substantial damages. The failure of the case means that Jonathan Rees’ debts — which have been mounting for several years — are now so great that he may have to sell his £1million house in Weybridge, Surrey …

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Re-published: 25 February 2017
© Press Gang
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Notes
1.
This article is based on a series of articles 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 (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.
2.
There are five 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.
3.
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 
4.
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales. 

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COMING
SKY FALL?
THIS YEAR will see a major battle for control of Britain’s airwaves — Rupert Murdoch’s 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. 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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One Response to “GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER”

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