THE UNSOLVED murder of Daniel Morgan — the 34-year-old private eye axed to death in 1987 — is a national scandal.
Contaminated by police corruption and rogue journalism, the case has never received the attention it deserves.
Compare it with another infamous case — Stephen Lawrence, the young black man knifed to death in 1993.
There are striking similarities.
Both were murdered in South London.
Both were brutally attacked in public places.
Both involved five main suspects.
Both involved botched investigations by Scotland Yard detectives.
Both cases were left to the families to try to solve.
There the similarities end.
When the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring some of the suspects to trial, the Lawrence family began a long, high-profile campaign.
They also brought a private prosecution against the five.
But in 1997 the Daily Mail ran a dramatic front page story branding the five men murderers.
And in 1998 a public inquiry produced the Macpherson Report which condemned the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”.
The report also helped to modify the ancient “double jeopardy” rule that no-one can be tried twice for the same crime.
This, together with a cold case review using new forensic techniques, saw two of the five originally accused gaoled for the murder in 2012.
COMPARE THIS with the Morgan family campaign — led by his older brother, Alastair.
He’s always believed the key to the murder lies in the Southern Investigations detective agency Daniel ran with partner Jonathan Rees.
Rees became one of the main suspects.
One of the reasons — the man he chose to replace Daniel Morgan.
This was his friend Sid Fillery, a recently retired Scotland Yard detective sergeant.
Fillery had been on the initial Daniel Morgan murder investigation but did not tell his superiors he was a close friend of Rees.
Rees also acted as a “fence” between corrupt police officers and tabloid journalists, especially from the News of the World.
Alastair Morgan feels this explains the reluctance of some police officers and many newspapers to take his campaign seriously.
No newspaper has publicly named and shamed the five suspects as the Daily Mail did in the Lawrence case.
Even so Alastair Morgan’s campaign has been relentlessly effective.
After the failure of the first investigation, family pressure saw the case re-opened another four times.
A trial of the suspects collapsed in March 2011.
But long before then, one of the investigations had caught Rees conspiring with a corrupt police detective.
The plot was to plant cocaine on an innocent woman to prove she was an unfit mother.
He was gaoled for seven years.
Another investigation found extreme child pornography on a computer owned by Fillery.
The murder, though, remains “unsolved”.
For years the Morgan had press, unsuccessfully, for a public inquiry into the case.
But in May 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a judge-led panel to investigate the failure to bring the killers to book.
“The horrific murder of Daniel Morgan and subsequent investigations were dogged by serious allegations of police corruption.”
“Several criminal investigations failed to bring those responsible to justice and this independent panel will leave no stone unturned to find out why.”
But her first choice as chairman, retired judge Sir Stanley Burnton, lasted just six months.
He stepped down — for what were described as “personal reasons” — in November 2013.
In July 2014 former Northern Ireland police ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan was appointed to head the investigation.
OVER THE next year Press Gang will publish one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Daniel Morgan scandal.
It’s called The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.
Originally published on the Rebecca Television website in 2011, the six-part series tells the story of Alastair Morgan’s dogged search for the truth.
Already published — An Axe To Grind — examines some of the key events before and after the murder that led to suspicion falling on Rees and Fillery.
Also published Rogue Journalists and Bent Coppers, the second article, shows that Southern Investigations were at the heart of a web of an illegal news-gathering operation.
The News of the World was one of its major customers.
The third piece, Porridge, tells how Scotland Yard finally managed to convict the two partners — though not for the Daniel Morgan murder.
Police bugged the offices of Southern Investigations.
No new information was gathered about the Daniel Morgan murder.
But detectives heard another major crime being planned.
Rees had a client who was fighting his estranged wife over the custody of their young son.
Rees suggested using a criminal to plant drugs in her car in order to destroy her chances of keeping the child.
Rees and his client were gaoled for seven years — the bent copper got five.
The fourth article — Getting Away With Murder — covers the events after Rees’ release from prison in 2004.
Only the News of the World, where Andy Coulson was editor, would use his services.
That arrangement ended in 2007 when the phone hacking scandal began to unfold.
In 2008 Rees, Fillery and three other men were arrested in connection with the murder.
The case collapsed dramatically in March 2011.
Rees was once again arrested in October 2012 as part of Operation Tuleta, the Met’s computer hacking inquiry.
He was due to answer bail in September 2014.
Scotland Yard has now told Press Gang that Rees “was subsequently told his bail would be cancelled”.
SINCE THEN Rees has gone on the offensive.
He’s always insisted he’s innocent of all the accusations made against him.
He even says his seven year prison sentence was a set-up — orchestrated by a police informant.
There are three elements to his campaign.
First, he’s made a complaint that police officers committed perjury, with-held crates of evidence and schooled an unstable supergrass witness.
The Met’s Department of Professional Standards Department has launched Operation Megan to investigate these allegations.
In November 2014 the Croydon Advertiser interviewed Rees.
“At the moment, I’m still angry and I still want blood,” he told the paper.
“I want them gripping the rails. I want to see them suffer for what they did to me and my family.”
Rees spent 22 months in prison on remand.
Second, Rees and the other three defendants, including Fillery, have launched a £4 million compensation case against the Met.
Press reports say they’re claiming for false imprisonment, malicious falsehood and misfeasance in a public office.
However, Rees is having problems with solicitors.
The Manchester-based Pannone lawfirm have taken legal action against him for unpaid bills.
In May last year the firm were granted a “final charging order” on Rees’ Weybridge home.
This means the property can only be sold if the debt is discharged.
Pannone told Press Gang the firm were “unable to comment on this matter at the present time”.
A spokesman for Rees declined to comment.
It’s not the first charge on the property, which already has two mortgages.
Rees bought the Weybridge house for £440,000 in 2006 with his partner Margaret Harrison.
Three other charges were granted in 2008.
Two are from debt collecting companies — Link Financial of Caerphilly and Lowell Portfolio of Leeds — who have bought the original debts.
The last is in favour of Barclaycard.
THE THIRD element of Rees’ strategy is a media campaign.
His only success, however, has been a breathtakingly biased “investigation” by the Mail on Sunday in August last year.
This article, by chief reporter Ian Gallagher and freelance Sylvia Jones, was largely based on material supplied by Rees.
The headline claimed the case was “derailed” by the original officer in charge of the case.
They quote one police officer that when he arrived at the Golden Lion on the night of the murder, he was “drunk” and “ordering a bottle of scotch”.
The journalists quote Rees’ defence team who say that police did not investigate 32 “plausible” suspects because they were “obsessed” with Rees.
The dead man, they claim, “was no heroic gumshoe in the mould of, say, Philip Marlowe.”
“He was at the seedy end of his trade, a bailiff who worked the streets of south London and was described as ‘volatile’ by his wife …”
His work brought him into contact with dangerous criminals.
And he was, they claimed, a womaniser.
“It was against this complicated background, with turbulence at home and at work, that Morgan was murdered.”
But there are glaring omissions in the piece.
The name Fillery doesn’t appear anywhere in the piece — even though he’s one of the four men they say is suing the Met.
They do not make it clear that Fillery had been criticised for contaminating the original inquiry.
Or that he now has a conviction for possessing child pornography.
Also astonishing is the absence of Rees’ conviction for conspiring, with a corrupt police officer, to plant drugs on an innocent woman.
Press Gang has written to Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Mail group of newspapers, asking him to investigate how this piece of rogue journalism came to be written.
Dacre is also editor of the Daily Mail — the paper which branded the five suspects in the Stephen Lawrence guilty of murder…
Published: 26 January 2015
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