Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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 Shame 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.

♦♦♦

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.

image

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.

♦♦♦

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.”

♦♦♦

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.  

♦♦♦

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.

♦♦♦

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.

♦♦♦

DONATIONS

If you want to make a contribution towards the work of Press Gang, just click on the DONATE button.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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.

♦♦♦

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. 

♦♦♦

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.

Advertisements

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. 

♦♦♦

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. 

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

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.

♦♦♦

DONATIONS

If you want to make a contribution towards the work of Press Gang, just click on the DONATE button.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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.

THERESA MAY — CEREAL KILLER

June 6, 2017

CONFLAKES MASTER

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER

February 25, 2017

corrupt_header_murder

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.

REES_and_FILLERY_210

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.

PRESS GANG LOGO

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.
Press Gang is independent and does not carry advertising. It runs at a loss and the only source of income is donations.
If you feel articles like Getting Away With Murder should see the light of day, you can make either a one-off gift or make a commitment to a small monthly donation.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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.

♦♦♦

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.”

♦♦♦

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.

SUSPECTS_400

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.”

♦♦♦

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.

♦♦♦

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.

♦♦♦

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 …

♦♦♦
Re-published: 25 February 2017
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

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. 

♦♦♦

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 …

♦♦♦

DONATIONS Investigative stories like this one are expensive and time-consuming to produce. You can help by making a contribution to the coffers. Just click on the logo …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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.

BBC FORCED TO CORRECT OWEN SMITH PROFILE

August 13, 2016

 

Owen_Smith_head_BBC

THE BBC has been forced to correct an inaccurate profile of Owen Smith following a complaint by Press Gang.

In July the Corporation published an online article which included details about Smith’s career at BBC Wales.

Press Gang complained to Director General Lord Hall.

We said the article gave the false impression that Owen Smith was already at the BBC before his father, the historian Dai Smith, became involved.

In fact, the evidence suggests it was Smith the father who introduced Smith the son to the Corporation.

Press Gang also cited several errors of fact — and criticised the fact that the BBC has not provided a detailed CV of Smith’s broadcasting career.

Yesterday the BBC corrected the article but didn’t admit the original errors.

The Corporation also acknowledged the complaint.

Smith has declined to provide a full CV of his career as a journalist, lobbyist and politician.

The Press Gang investigation continues.

We have now asked Smith:

if he’s ever been a member of the National Union of Journalists

if he’s been a member of the Labour Party continuously since he joined at the age of 16 and

if he will, as Jeremy Corbyn has done, make his tax returns public.

There was no reply by the time this article went to press.

♦♦♦

JUST TWO days after he became the sole challenger to Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership, BBC online published an article called “Profile: The Owen Smith story”.

It contained the following statement about Owen Smith’s early career:

“After studying history and French at the University of Sussex, he joined BBC Wales as a radio producer. His father, Dai, was appointed editor of BBC Wales and head of programmes in the same year.”

Press Gang complained about this paragraph to BBC Director General Lord Hall.

First, we said it gave the impression that Owen Smith was at BBC Wales before his father.

Press Gang was concerned that the paragraph was a “red herring” designed to avoid the question of nepotism and patronage in Owen Smith’s career.

rhodri-talfan-davies
TAFFIA TELLY
RHODRI TALFAN DAVIES, BBC Wales Director, controls an organisation which has been dogged by allegations of nepotism and patronage for more than a quarter of a century. There was controversy when he was appointed in 2011 at the age of 40 because he’s the son of former BBC Wales boss, Geraint Talfan Davies. It was Geraint Talfan Davies who appointed Owen Smith’s father, Dai Smith, to the second most powerful post in BBC Wales in the 1990s …
Photo: BBC Wales

The evidence is that his father was already an established broadcaster at BBC Radio Wales and that it was he who introduced his son to a senior producer at the station.

Second, the paragraph is inaccurate: there’s no such role as editor of BBC Wales (the post is Editor, Radio Wales) and Dai Smith was not appointed head of programmes until much later.

Finally, Press Gang complained that BBC Wales is refusing to release a full CV of Owen Smith’s broadcasting career.

Yesterday, the BBC corrected the errors — but didn’t admit the original mistakes.

The BBC journalist who wrote the piece, Brian Wheeler, told Press Gang he talked to BBC Wales political journalists at Westminster before filing the article.

He said he wasn’t aware there were allegations of nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales.

The Director General’s office also acknowledged our complaint.

But the Corporation has still not provided Smith’s broadcasting CV.

Owen Smith denies that nepotism or patronage played any part in his broadcasting career.

We asked him for a full CV of his career as a journalist, a lobbyist and a politician.

So far, he’s not provided one …

♦♦♦

FOR EIGHT days we’ve been waiting for Owen Smith to answer questions about other aspects of his career.

On August 4 his press team apologised “for the delay in getting back to you — as you’ll be aware it’s an incredibly busy campaign and we have a lot of competing demands … … please do bear with us as we try to reply to everyone.”

One of the questions we put to him was his salary as a lobbyist for Pfizer.

In June 2014, when Smith was shadow Welsh Secretary, he told the Sunday Telegraph his salary was £80,000.

Press Gang found a Times article of 2006, when he was the candidate for the Blaenau Gwent by-election, which said he was a “… £200,000-a-year lobbyist for Pfizer.”

We asked him which figure was correct.

There was no reply by the time this article went to press.

We also asked him to expand on his statement:

“I want to be a force for good in the world. Therefore, you need to achieve power. Nye Bevan, my great hero, said it’s all about achieving and exercising power. I’ve devoted my life to that.”

We asked him for proof of this devotion.

The available evidence suggests that, until he was in his early thirties, his interest in politics was virtually nil.

We’ve now asked him if he’s been a Labour Party member continuously since he first joined at the age of 16.

He says Nye Bevan, one of the founders of the NHS, is his great hero.

A think tank in Bevan’s memory — the Bevan Foundation — was established in 2001.

Smith said he did not become a trustee until 2007 — after he was selected as Labour candidate for the Blaenau Gwent by-election in 2006.

Blaenau Gwent includes Tredegar which was Bevan’s constituency.

And Smith didn’t stay long  — he resigned in 2009.

Yesterday we asked him if he’d been involved in the Foundation before joining as a trustee in 2007.

We have also asked Smith if he was a member of the National Union of Journalists during his career as a broadcaster.

There’s no evidence in the public record of any membership.

Finally, we have also also asked him if he will make his tax returns public, as Jeremy Corbyn has done.

He did not answer any of these questions before this article went to press.

♦♦♦
Published: 13 August 2016
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

Notes

1. This the third instalment of this investigation:  the first, Owen Smith: Forged By Patronage and Nepotism?, was published on August 3. The second, Owen Smith: A Man For All Seasons, was published on August 8.  Click on a title to read it.
2. Press Gang editor Paddy French declares personal interests in this story.
— in the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade.
— he’s one of the thousands of traditional Labour voters who have joined the party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader. He will be voting for Corbyn in the Leadership election.
3. The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles The Son Of The Man From Uncle and In The Name Of The Father?
4. The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.

♦♦♦

DONATIONS Investigative stories like this one are expensive and time-consuming to produce. You can help by making a contribution to the coffers. Just click on the logo …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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.

EXCLUSIVE — FAKE SHEIK CHARGED

September 29, 2015

THE SUN journalist Mazher Mahmood has been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

FAKE SHEIK IN THE DOCK AFTER YEARS of being accused of lying on oath in criminal cases, Mazher Mahmood is to swop the witness box for the dock ... Photo: BBC

FAKE SHEIK IN THE DOCK
Photo: BBC

The decision follows a Scotland Yard investigation — Operation Silverhawk — and comes after the aborted trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos in July 2014.

The singer’s prosecution followed a Sun on Sunday sting in June 2013.

After an elaborate operation, Mahmood and his team persuaded Tulisa to contact a friend who then supplied them with drugs.

Judge Alastair McCreath stopped the trial after Mahmood gave contradictory evidence about changes to a statement made by his driver Alan Smith.

Smith has also been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The two men will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on October 30. 

In a statement issued through his solicitors Kingsley Napley, Mazher Mahmood said:

“I am deeply disappointed that, after a totally unjustified delay, the Crown Prosecution Service have today informed me that they have decided to charge me with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. 

“I deny the offence. I will vigorously contest it at court. In the meantime I have nothing further to say.”

Nick Vamos, CPS Deputy Head of Special Crime, said:

“After carefully considering all of the evidence the CPS has decided that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to charge both men.”

“The decision comes after it was alleged that Mr Smith agreed with Mr Mahmood to change his statement to police as part of a trial in July 2014, and that Mr Mahmood then misled the court.”

“May I remind all concerned that both Mr Mahmood and Mr Smith have a right to a fair trial.”

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

“For these reasons it would be inappropriate for any further comment.”

 ♦♦♦

COMING UP 
A SLICKER FULL OF LIES
THE STORY of Piers Morgan’s involvement in the “Slickergate Affair” of 2000 makes sobering reading. There’s evidence Morgan sacrificed two of his journalists to save his own skin — and that senior Mirror Group managers were in on the plot. The attempt to spin the truth of what happened even involved lying to Lord Leveson …  Part Fve of A Pretty Despicable Man tells the story of a deliberate corporate cover-up  … 

 ♦♦♦

JOIN THE GANGBUSTERS …
THERE’S A need for a trustworthy website to expose rogue reporters. Press Gang is that outlet — fearless and fair. Join us by becoming a gangbuster and help pay some of our expenses. Just hit the button …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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.