Posts Tagged ‘Clive Goodman’

DIAL M FOR MORGAN

June 29, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_4

FOR THE last four years Piers Morgan has been desperately trying to distance himself from the phone hacking scandal.

Twice he’s been interviewed under caution by detectives investigating phone hacking at the Daily Mirror when he was editor from 1995 to 2004.

Between 2001 and 2009 he made a series of incriminating statements widely interpreted as evidence he knew all about the practice.

Two of his protégés — Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks — have appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey.

Coulson went to gaol: Brooks was acquitted.

Morgan now insists he knew nothing:

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

But a Press Gang investigation reveals 

— as early as 1997, the Daily Mirror was paying for “confidential enquiries” about telephone numbers

— in 1998 the paper was openly hacking the mobile phones of senior politicians

— a year later it spent nearly £6,000 on illegally obtained print-outs of calls made on individual phones 

The evidence suggests the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering — including phone hacking — were at the heart of Daily Mirror editorial policy when Morgan was editor. 

♦♦♦

WHEN HE appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2009, Piers Morgan was challenged about phone hacking.

Presenter Kirsty Young asked him about dealing with people who listened to phone messages.

“People who tap people’s phones … how did you feel about that?”

Morgan didn’t deny the allegation:

“I’m quite happy … to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to …”

“I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do.”

But after the revelation in July 2011 that Rupert Murdoch’s journalists had hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone, he changed his tune.

BUGGERS PIERS MORGAN and his friends Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at the height of their power in 2004. Morgan edited the Mirror, Brooks The Sun and Coulson the News of the World. All three tabloids were hacking phones at that stage. Coulson and Brooks — long-term on-off lovers — were tried at the Old Bailey in 2014. Brooks was acquitted but Coulson was gaoled for 18 months. Picture: Richard Young / REX

BUGGERS
PIERS MORGAN and his friends Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at the height of their power in the early 2000s. Morgan edited the Mirror, Brooks the Sun and Coulson the News of the World. All three tabloids were hacking phones at that stage. Coulson and Brooks — long-term on-off lovers — were tried at the Old Bailey in 2014; Brooks was acquitted but Coulson was gaoled for 18 months. Piers Morgan was by far the most experienced of the three: he had been Coulson’s boss at the Sun’s show business column in the early 1990s and gave Rebekah Brooks her first big promotion while he was editor of the News of the World
Picture: Richard Young / REX

When the American Daily Beast website resurrected his Desert Island Discs comments in 2011, Morgan insisted:

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

But, in fact, the Daily Mirror had printed an article based on phone hacking more than a decade earlier.

It was just as mobile phones were taking off — and Piers Morgan had been Daily Mirror editor for more than two years.

Early in 1998 one of the paper’s journalists in Dublin realised it was possible to access messages left on the mobile phones of senior Irish politicians.

Reporter Karl Brophy — based at the Irish Parliament — proceeded to listen to messages left on the phone of the Irish leader, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

He also successfully listened to messages left on the phones of other Cabinet ministers.

Brophy’s article — published as an “Exclusive” on Saturday, 18 April 1998 — went into great detail about how phone messages could be hacked:

“The phone tap can be operated by anyone who knows the number of the mobile phone they wish to listen in to.”

The article explained that mobile phones were sold with a standard password for stored messages that most people never changed.

“That means that anyone can listen in to another person’s messages by simply phoning into their electronic mailbox and dialling the digits 0000.”

CAPTION THE FRONT page story proving the Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

SMOKING GUN
THE FRONT page story proving Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

“Once they have done this the hacker has unlimited access to all the messages.”

The article was accompanied by an editorial.

This stated:

“If Richard Nixon had lived in Dublin he would have had no need for Watergate.”

“Instead of teams of bungling burglars all he would have needed was a mobile phone to tap into the thoughts of his political rivals.”

The piece continued:

“The Irish Mirror discovered this amazing security breach and chose not to keep it under wraps.”

“It is to be hoped the gap has been plugged before some unscrupulous eavesdropper has used it for sinister [purposes].”

There was to be no phone hacking scandal in Ireland. 

♦♦♦

NOT A word of the story appeared in the mainland editions of the Daily Mirror.

This was despite the fact that several million people of Irish descent live in Britain — thousands of them Daily Mirror readers.

And the implications of the story for the British political establishment were obvious.

If British mobile phones were anything like their Irish counterparts, there was a potential security problem.

There were also strong connections between the Irish edition and the paper’s headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf.

DOMINIC MOHAN THE SUN editor told Lord Leveson about the Irish Mirror phone hacking story in 2012. But the Inquiry team did not enter the article into evidence — and Piers Morgan was never questioned about it.

SNITCH
SUN EDITOR Dominic Mohan told Lord Leveson about the Irish Mirror story in 2012. But the Inquiry team failed to understand its significance and didn’t enter the article as evidence — Piers Morgan was never questioned about it.  Back in May 2002 Mohan was editor of the Sun’s “Bizarre” column when he sarcastically thanked Vodaphone’s lack of security for the success of Piers Morgan’s show business coverage in the Mirror Photo: PA

The man in charge of the Irish Mirror was Craig Mackenzie, brother of Kelvin Mackenzie, Mirror Group deputy chief executive.

Kelvin Mackenzie was editor of the Sun when Piers Morgan started on the paper in the late 1980s.

Both Mackenzie brothers were friends of Morgan’s. 

Press Gang spoke to Karl Brophy last week.

He said he wrote the story at a time when mobile phones were taking off.  

“When you got your phone in those days it clearly … told you to change your PIN immediately,” he said.

“The thing was that most older people didn’t bother.”

“So, one day, I just started phoning mobiles of politicians and seeing if they had changed their PINs.”  

“A lot hadn’t so I changed all the PINs of the ones who hadn’t to a single four digit number so nobody else could listen in.”

“I thought the fact that voice messages … of government ministers and advisers could be so easily accessed was rather serious – especially considering where we were in 1998 with the Peace Process …”

In fact, the historic Good Friday agreement had been signed a week earlier.

All the ministers Brophy hacked immediately changed their PIN numbers after he told the government what he’d done. 

♦♦♦

FIFTEEN MONTHS later the Daily Mirror in London were told about security problems with mobile phones.

Welsh sales manager Steven Nott rang the paper in August 1999 about a flaw in Vodaphone’s system.

He talked to Mirror special projects editor Oonagh Blackman. 

He told her that if people did not change the standard Vodaphone 3333 PIN number, anyone could dial in and listen to messages. 

Nott claims that, initially, Blackman was enthusiastic but after 12 days told him the paper wasn’t interested.

The paper later sent him a £100 cheque with a statement saying it was in relation to “mobile phone scandal.” 

Nott later told the Leveson Inquiry:

“I accused the Daily Mirror of keeping the phone hacking method for their own purposes.”

But, in addition to the Irish Mirror story, there’s evidence the paper’s journalists were already deeply involved in the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering, including phone hacking.

♦♦♦

CENTRAL TO this operation was senior reporter Gary Jones and his dealings with a corrupt firm of private detectives.

Jones had been News of the World crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday tabloid in 1994-1995. 

Jones won the Press Gazette Reporter of the Year award in 1995 for his scoops.

One of the most dramatic was a story about anonymous calls being made by Princess Diana.

This was also one of the key stories in Piers Morgan’s career — it impressed Rupert Murdoch who liked big, international controversies.

Especially if it also involved an attack on the British establishment he despised.

GARY “DARK ARTS” JONES THE SENIOR Daily Mirror journalist was the paper’s mastermind when it came to illegal news-gathering. He’d been the News of the World’s crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday paper in 1994-1995. Jones — who has featured in many Press Gang articles —  does not answer our emails.  

GARY “DARK ARTS” JONES
A KEY LIEUTENANT throughout Piers Morgan’s editorship, Jones was the Mirror mastermind when it came to illegal news-gathering. He’d been the News of the World crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday paper in 1994-1995. Jones — who has featured in many Press Gang articles —  does not answer our emails.

This worldwide exclusive was based on a leaked investigation report from Scotland Yard.

Press Gang — in the article Whodunnit? — revealed Piers Morgan almost certainly authorised an enormous payment to a recently retired senior police officer for access to the report.

The sum is believed to have been in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Piers Morgan was appointed Daily Mirror editor in 1995 and Gary Jones joined him the following year.

Documentary evidence shows that by October 1997 Gary Jones was responsible for organising much of the paper’s clandestine operations.

Jones was using the controversial detective agency Southern Investigations to illegally access information. 

The agency had also been working for the News of the World from the late 1980s — including the period Piers Morgan was editor.

The firm was run by private eye Jonathan Rees.

Rees had been a suspect in the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan in 1987.

JONATHAN REES THE PRIVATE eye who provided the Daily Mirror with a hoard of confidential information. He stood trial for the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan but the trial collapsed in 2011.  A fuller account of his activities can be found in the Press Gang series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.  Photo: PA 

CORRUPT DETECTIVE
THE PRIVATE eye Jonathan Rees who provided the Daily Mirror with a hoard of confidential information, much of it obtained from bent police officers. He later stood trial for the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan but the case collapsed in 2011.  A fuller account of his activities can be found in the Press Gang series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency
Photo: PA

Daniel Morgan’s place as Rees’ partner was taken by former Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery. 

Fillery had been part of the homicide team investigating the murder until his superiors realised he was a friend of Rees.

Southern Investigations provided Gary Jones and the Mirror with one scoop after another.

The evidence comes from a secret operation — Two Bridges — mounted by anti-corruption detectives at Scotland Yard.

They bugged the offices of Southern Investigations and, in September 1999, raided the firm and many of its network of informants. 

From the files generated by this operation, Press Gang has already shown that 

— in September 1998 phone hacking may have played a part in an exclusive about news presenter Kirsty Young’s new relationship with millionaire businessman Nick Young. In our story Down In The Gutter we showed that Southern Investigations followed Young over several days. The paper’s reluctance to publish the story straight away suggests the original source of the story may have come from phone hacking ,,,

KIRSTY YOUNG WHEN THE presenter interviewed Piers Morgan in 2009, he appeared to admit the Daily Mirror had been involved in phone hacking. What Young didn’t know is that she had been a target of the Daily Mirror in 1998 when she began a new relationship. The story may have resulted from phone hacking …  Photo: PA

KIRSTY YOUNG
WHEN THE Desert Island Discs presenter interviewed Piers Morgan in 2009, he appeared to admit the Daily Mirror had been involved in phone hacking. What Young didn’t know is that she’d been a target of Piers Morgan’s paper in 1998 when she began a new relationship. The story may have resulted from phone hacking … 
Photo: PA

— in October 1998 Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman published an article revealing the confidential mortgage details of members of the committee which set interest rates. In our article Assault On The Bank Of England we showed that Southern Investigations had illegally “blagged” the information from banks and building societies. The firm sent one set of doctored invoices to the Daily Mirror accounts department but Press Gang obtained a confidential statement sent to Gary Jones marked “For Your Information Only” which reveals the true nature of the operation.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Invoices generated by Southern Investigations were usually heavily disguised.

“Confidential enquiries” was the phrase used to cover up illegal activity ordered by Gary Jones on behalf of the Mirror.

Four of these invoices include parts of telephone numbers.

The first was in October 1997 — long before the Irish Mirror published its piece.

Southern Investigations was billing Jones for “confidential enquiries” relating to a telephone number showing just the dialling code 01480 (Huntingdon). 

In 1998 there were three more invoices — again with only part of the number given.

The sums involved — around £300 each — suggest these “confidential enquiries” involved print-outs of calls made from the numbers.

Southern Investigations had people inside phone companies who made copies of itemised phone calls.

Just how corrupt the relationship between Gary Jones and Jonathan Rees actually was is shown by a dramatic row which took place in July 1999. 

♦♦♦

IT’S TUESDAY, 6 July 1999 at the offices of Southern Investigations in Thornton Heath, South London.

Jonathan Rees is busy.

Some of his work is legitimate routine bread and butter stuff like serving writs and tracing people.

But increasingly his time is taken up with obtaining confidential information and selling it to newspapers like the News of the World and the Mirror Group. 

Unknown to him, every word he says today will be recorded.

A bug has been planted in the building by anti-corruption detectives from Scotland Yard as part of Operation Two Bridges.

Two Bridges has two aims.

One is to generate information about the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987.

The second is part of an attempt to prevent Southern Investigations from corrupting police officers.

An internal Scotland Yard document — later leaked to the BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan — spelt out the concerns.

Rees — and his partner, ex Metropolitan Police detective Sid Fillery:

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

SID FILLERY THE FORMER Scotland Yard detective — charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the murder of Daniel —  was discharged in 2010. By then, though, Fillery already had a criminal record — he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children in 2003. He now helps run the Lion public house in the village of Thurne in the Norfolk Broads. Photo: PA 

“CUNNING AND DEVIOUS”
A CHARGE against former Scotland Yard detective Sid Fillery — perverting the course of justice in connection with the murder of Daniel Morgan— was dropped in 2010. By then, though, Fillery already had a criminal record — he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children in 2003. He now helps run the Lion public house in the village of Thurne in the Norfolk Broads.
Photo: PA

“They use some of the techniques in their own daily activities.”

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

But on that Tuesday — 6 July 1999 — Rees is oblivious to the fact that his office is bugged.

When he rings Gary Jones at the Daily Mirror to discuss invoices, he believes the conversation is private.

Rees says he’s faxing through a full list of invoices for the work done for the Mirror Group (including the MirrorPeople and the Sunday Mirror) that year.

The total is £16,991 for the five months. 

The list includes nearly £6,000 for the illegal supply of itemised print-outs of calls made from phones. 

Rees says

“… when it comes through you’ll see the invoice, with lots of stars next to them, and roughly billed at about £300 odd — which is print-outs.“

Rees tells Jones there are 19 of these print-outs with the initials of the reporters who ordered them, with “G.J. being you.”

Later that day Rees and Jones have another discussion about the lack of detail on the invoices relating to these print-outs.

Jones is under pressure from the paper’s accounts department to provide more information on the Southern Investigations invoices.

Rees loses his temper:

“Well they are printouts …”

“ … this is tiresome, fucking tiresome …”

“ … we are not going to put the numbers in there because what we are doing is illegal …”

“ … I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offence, you know.”

When this conversation takes place, Gary Jones is sitting at his desk in the Daily Mirror newsroom on the 22nd floor of the skyscraper at Canary Wharf.

A few yards away is the editor’s corner office.

Can Piers Morgan have known absolutely nothing about Gary Jones’ illegal activities?

♦♦♦

OPERATION TWO BRIDGES comes to an abrupt end in September 1999.

The bug in Southern Investigations reveals Rees has a client fighting his estranged wife for custody of their child.

Rees agrees to organise a conspiracy with a corrupt police officer to plant cocaine in the wife’s car.

The plan is to saddle her with a drugs conviction — so proving her to be an unfit mother.

The police pounce on the conspirators.

Rees and the client are given seven year prison sentences.

The corrupt police officer is gaoled for five.

Sid Fillery is not involved. 

SURVEILLANCE OPERATION TWO BRIDGES officers photographed Jonathan Rees outside the offices of Southern Investigations in south London. Detectives were watching the building while others listened in on the bug secretly placed inside …  Photo: PA 

SURVEILLANCE OPERATION
TWO BRIDGES officers photographed Jonathan Rees outside the offices of Southern Investigations in south London. Detectives were watching the building while others listened in on the bug secretly placed inside … 
Photo: PA

When police closed in on the conspiracy, they also arrested many of those suspected of being involved in illegal news-gathering.

One of them was Doug Kempster, a reporter with the People, part of the Mirror group.

An internal police report shows some senior police officers wanted a conviction:

“It is likely that journalists and private investigators who actively corrupt serving officers would receive a long custodial sentence if convicted.”

“There will be a high level of media interest in this particular investigation, especially when involving journalists.”

“The Metropolitan Police will undoubtedly benefit if a journalist is convicted of corrupting serving police officers.”

“This will send a clear message to members of the media to consider their own ethical and illegal involvement with employees of the Met in the future.”

Police submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided not to charge the reporter.  

Kempster’s arrest sent shock waves around senior management at the Mirror Group.

But it did not stop illegal news-gathering at Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror.

With Jonathan Rees in gaol, the paper turned to another private eye — Steve Whittamore.

By the time he was arrested for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2003, the paper had spent at least £92,000 with the private eye.

In our article Whodunnit? we exclusively revealed that one of the Mirror reporters who apparently commissioned work from Whittamore was Tom Newton Dunn.

TOM NEWTON DUNN THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn was a young Mirror reporter when he ordered an unlawful criminal record check. Photo: PA

TOM NEWTON DUNN
THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn was a young Mirror reporter when he allegedly ordered an unlawful criminal record check.
Photo: PA

Today, he’s the political editor of The Sun.

In the early 2000s Dunn’s name was recorded by Whittamore as the Mirror contact for a criminal record check of a parliamentary candidate. 

This was Adrian Flook, who later became Tory MP for Taunton.

Newton Dunn does not answer our emails.

♦♦♦

IS IT possible Piers Morgan didn’t know what was going on at the Mirror when he was editor? 

During the Leveson Inquiry journalist James Hipwell gave evidence about phone hacking when he worked at the paper between 1998 and 2000.

Hipwell was a financial journalist and worked close to the paper’s showbiz reporters.

He said they hacked openly and frequently.

Hacking was “a bog-standard journalistic tool for gathering information.” 

He had no direct evidence Piers Morgan was involved but added: 

“I would say that it is very unlikely that he didn’t know it was going on …”

“The newspaper was built around the cult of Piers.”  

“He was the newspaper.”

‘Nothing happened at the newspaper without him knowing.”

When he gave evidence, Morgan was contemptuous of Hipwell.

Hipwell had been gaoled for six months for insider dealing in 2000 while working for the paper’s City Slickers column.

He bought shares in a company owned by Alan Sugar before they were tipped by the column.

JAMES HIPWELL A FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter in the late 1990s, Hipwell says phone hacking was “bog-standard” among the paper’s show-business journalists. Piers Morgan claims Hipwell was not a credible witness because he had a grudge against him — but several judges preferred Hipwell’s testimony to Morgan’s …   Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
A FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter in the late 1990s, Hipwell says phone hacking was “bog-standard” among the paper’s show-business journalists. Piers Morgan claims Hipwell was not a credible witness because he had a grudge against him — but several judges preferred Hipwell’s testimony to Morgan’s …  
Photo: PA

The shares rocketed in value the next day.

Piers Morgan also bought shares but always insisted he didn’t know they were going to be the subject of a Mirror article.

In a statement to Leveson, Morgan wrote:

“I note that Mr Hipwell is a convicted criminal who changed his story on a number of occasions during the City Slickers investigation, in part to wrongfully implicate me.”

“I believe any testimony he gives to be inherently unreliable.”

Leveson, though, found Hipwell a credible witness:

“… the Inquiry does conclude that the practice of phone hacking may well have taken place at the Mirror titles at the time Mr Hipwell was working there …”

Leveson also questioned Piers Morgan about his comment after the 2007 gaoling of News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking royal phones.

Morgan had been Goodman’s editor at the News of the World in 1994-1995.

“… I feel a lot of sympathy for a man who has been the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at every paper in Fleet Street for years.” 

Morgan told Leveson he was talking about the “rumour mill” at the time — and that phone hacking wasn’t happening at the Daily Mirror.

Leveson was caustic:

“This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer.”

“Overall, Mr Morgan’s attempt to push back from his own bullish statement to the Press Gazette was utterly unpersuasive.”

♦♦♦

MORE AND more evidence is emerging about the “dark arts” at the Daily Mirror.

So far Operation Golding, the Scotland Yard operation into phone hacking at the Mirror Group, has seen 15 journalists — including Piers Morgan — questioned under caution. 

The investigation continues.

Scores of civil claims are also generating large amounts of information.

In May Mr Justice Mann ordered the Mirror group to pay eight victims a massive £1.2 million in damages.

MIRROR, MIRROR THERE ARE two Piers Morgans. Photo: PA

MIRROR, MIRROR
THERE ARE two Piers Morgans. There’s the brash tabloid editor with the big mouth who’s made a large number of comments making it clear he knew all about the “dark arts” when he was the paper’s editor. And then there’s the innocent journalist who claims he’s been misunderstood — he’s actually a high-minded, ethical editor. If these terrible things happened on his watch, he certainly didn’t authorise them …
Photo: PA / Graphic: Terry Evans, Wheelbarrow Studios

Six were victims of the Daily Mirror during Piers Morgan’s tenure — including the actress Sadie Frost and the footballer Paul Gascoigne.

The judgment also revealed that the Mirror papers:

“admitted paying over £2.25 million (in over 13,000 invoices) to certain named private eyes in the years from 2000 to 2007.”

Mr Justice Mann noted that the Mirror’s legal team acknowledged:

“that ‘an unquantifiable but substantial’ number of the inquiries made of the agents is likely to have been to obtain private information that could not be obtained lawfully.”

♦♦♦

© Press Gang
Published: 29 June 2015

♦♦♦

NOTES

1  Many of the examples where Piers Morgan is alleged to have made statements indicating he knew about phone hacking have been left out of this article. They are all well known and including them would have made the piece too long.

2  There are reporting restrictions in the recent civil case against the Mirror group. Mr Justice Mann ordered the names of several journalists should be redacted — apparently because they are the subject of active police inquiries.

3  A more detailed analysis of Mr Justice Mann’s decision will be included in a planned article — The Mirror: Crack’d From Side To Side — about the group’s disastrous management of the scandal.

4  Since the Mann judgment opens the way to everyone targeted by the Daily Mirror, a full list of all those whose names are included in the Southern Investigations invoices will be added to this post later. They include, for example, the environmental activist Daniel “Swampy” Hooper as well as scores of ordinary people …

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
A SLICKER FULL OF LIES
THE STORY of Piers Morgan’s involvement in the “Slickergate Affair” of 2000 makes sobering reading. There is evidence that 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 five of A Pretty Despicable Man tells the story of a deliberate corporate cover-up  … 

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DOWN IN THE GUTTER

June 7, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_3

 ON MAY 21 Mr Justice Mann delivered a damning verdict on the Mirror group. 

He found that its newspapers — the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the People — had engaged in phone hacking and other illegal news-gathering on a massive scale.

In a test case at the High Court, he ordered the company to pay £1.2 million in damages to just eight victims.  

Six of these — including the footballer Paul Gascoigne, BBC executive Alan Yentob and the actress Sadie Frost — were also hacked by reporters working for Piers Morgan during his 1995-2004 tenure as Daily Mirror editor.

Many more cases are in the pipeline.

Morgan himself has been interviewed under caution by detectives as part of Operation Golding, the Scotland Yard inquiry into phone hacking at the group.

Press Gang continues its investigation of the former tabloid editor with a revealing tale of the Daily Mirror’s intrusion into the private life of television newsreader Kirsty Young.

♦♦♦

IN 2009 Piers Morgan was put on the spot about his knowledge of the “dark arts” — including phone hacking — at the Mirror.

He was a guest on the BBC Desert Island Discs programme in June that year.

Presenter Kirsty Young asked him:

“And what about this nice middle-class boy who would have to be dealing with, I mean, essentially people who rake through people’s bins for a living?

KIRSTY YOUNG  THE SCOTTISH journalist's interview with Piers Morgan on Desert Island Discs in 2009 has proved to be a serious embarrassment for the former Mirror editor. Photo: PA

KIRSTY YOUNG
THE SCOTTISH journalist’s interview with Piers Morgan on Desert Island Discs in 2009 has proved a serious embarrassment for the former Daily Mirror editor.
Photo: PA

“People who tap people’s phones, people who take secret photographs… who do all that very nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff — how did you feel about that?”

Morgan was clear:

“Well, let’s put that into perspective …”

“Not a lot of that went on …”

“A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves …”

“That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.”

“I’m quite happy … to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to …”

“I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do.”

“I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide …”

These comments echoed his views when News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking royal phones in 2007.

Morgan — who had been Goodman’s editor at the News of the World in 1995 — told trade journal Press Gazette he had a lot of sympathy for Goodman:

“… a man who has been the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at almost every paper in Fleet Street for years.” 

But he suddenly changed his tune after the revelation, in July 2011, that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. 

When the U.S. Daily Beast website resurrected his Desert Island Discs comments, Morgan was emphatic.

He told the Beast:

REVISIONISM AS SOON as it became clear that the phone hacking scandal was going to see journalists gaoled , Piers Morgan has been trying desperately to distance himself from earlier statements which suggested he knew all about the practice ...  Photo: PA

REVISIONISM
AS SOON as it became clear that the phone hacking scandal was going to see journalists gaoled, Piers Morgan has been struggling to distance himself from earlier statements suggesting he knew all about the practice.
Photo: PA

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

By the time Morgan appeared before Lord Leveson in December 2011 he was claiming there’d been a misunderstanding during the Desert Island Discs recording:

“I didn’t hear her say phone-tapping.”

“She rattles off a list of stuff, and if you listen to it in real time I think you would see that.”

(Readers can judge for themselves: here’s the link to that edition of Desert Island Discs.)

But when Piers Morgan appeared on the programme, there was one thing he didn’t tell Kirsty Young.

And when he gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, he didn’t mention it either … 

It was that Young herself been the target of “down-in-the-gutter” tactics by Piers Morgan’s Mirror.

The story is also pregnant with the possibility it started as a result of phone-hacking … 

♦♦♦

THE TALE begins in September 1998.

On the 5th, the Mirror exclusively revealed the presenter had split up with Scottish rugby star Kenny Logan.

A week later, the Mirror found out that Young had spent the night with Nick Jones, the millionaire owner of the Soho House club.

At the time Jones had just separated from his wife.

But, for reasons that have never been explained, the paper did not splash the story at that point.

NICK JONES                                                   THE ENTREPRENEUR who founded the Soho House group, Nick Jones had just separated from his wife Tania when he met Kirsty Young. The new couple — who are now married — were targeted by Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror when their relationship began in 1998.  Photo: PA

NICK JONES
THE ENTREPRENEUR who founded the Soho House group, Jones had just separated from his wife Tania when he met Kirsty Young. The new couple — who are now married — were targeted by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror when their relationship began in 1998.
Photo: PA

Instead, senior Mirror journalist Gary Jones asked a private eye to organise a surveillance operation.

This was Jonathan Rees, a partner in the Southern Investigations detective agency.

Rees had been a suspect in the murder of his former partner Daniel Morgan in 1987.

(See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details.)

On September 16, one of Rees’ “agents” used a motorbike to keep tabs on her movements.

He spent three hours and travelled 35 miles.

The next day, it was for just under three hours, clocking up 25 miles.

On September 18, it was exactly the same.

Rees charged the paper £260.25.

Again, the Mirror didn’t publish.

Again, the reasons why it hesitated have never been made clear. 

On September 22 Young was once again under observation — but not by Rees and his team.

JONATHAN REES THE CONTROVERSIAL private eye was an important cog in the Daily Mirror's illegal news-gathering operation. Rees had been a suspect in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan and was convicted of conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. He was given a seven year prison sentence.   Photo: PA

JONATHAN REES
THE CONTROVERSIAL private eye was an important cog in the Daily Mirror’s illegal news-gathering operation. Rees had been a suspect in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan and was later convicted of conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. He was given a seven year prison sentence.
Photo: PA

It seems the paper’s own reporters, convinced Young and Jones were an item, were now mounting their own surveillance operation.

On September 22 Young was followed from the studios where she’d just finished presenting the Channel 5 News.

She left the building at 7pm and was tailed to her flat in Kensington.

Nick Jones turned up and, an hour later, the pair were photographed at a local restuarant. 

They were still being watched the next morning when they had breakfast in a cafe.

The couple then travelled to Somerset to stay in the Babbington House country club near Frome, also owned by Jones’ company. 

After an overnight stay, Young caught the London train in time to read that evening’s Channel 5 News.

But it took another week before the Daily Mirror exclusively revealed — in a double page spread  on September 30 — that the couple were an item.

The piece was written by Lucy Rock and Oonagh Blackman. 

“DARK ARTS” MASTER
GARY JONES — today he’s executive editor of the Sunday Mirror — was one of the key figures in the illegal news-gathering activities at the Daily Mirror. A former crime reporter on the News of the World when Piers Morgan was editor in 1994-199, he moved to the Mirror in 1996.

So why did it take the Mirror so long to make its dramatic revelation?

The paper sat on the information for at least a week — and possibly a fortnight.

The story was tabloid dynamite and every day the Mirror risked being scooped by one of its rivals. 

Surveillance has never been illegal and — at that time — listening to phone messages was not unlawful.

But paying someone to blag confidential details of phone numbers and PIN codes was a criminal offence.

Was this the original source of the story — and the paper was desperate to find alternative sources for the story?

Former Daily Mirror reporter James Hipwell claims that, by mid-1999, phone hacking was “rife” and “endemic” at the paper, especially on its showbiz desk.

Even though Hipwell was gaoled for insider dealing at the paper in 2000, his testimony was considered reliable by Lord Leveson — and by Mr Justice Mann in last month’s civil case. 

♦♦♦

WE ASKED all those involved in the Kirsty Young story to comment. 

Gary Jones, the senior journalist who asked Jonathan Rees to carry out the surveillance operation, didn’t reply.

He’s been named in several Press Gang articles but doesn’t answer our emails. 

JAMES HIPWELL THE FORMER Mirror financial reporter claims that phone hacking started at the Daily Mirror in mid-1999. Although he was gaoled for insider dealing at the Daily Mirror, judges — including Lord Leveson and Mr Justice Mann, have believed his testimony. Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
THE FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter claims that phone hacking started at the paper in mid-1999. Although he was gaoled for insider dealing at the Daily Mirror, judges — including Lord Leveson and Mr Justice Mann — have believed his testimony.
Photo: PA

We have not been able to contact Oonagh Blackman, one of the reporters who wrote the exposé of Kirsty Young and Nick Jones’ relationship.

We emailed the other by-lined journalist, Lucy Rock — now news editor at The Observer.

She told us:

“I was asked by the newsdesk to ‘doorstep’ those involved.” 

“I don’t know where the tip came from, but there was never any suggestion of phone hacking.”

“Indeed, I heard no mention of this practice during my time at The Mirror.”  

We were unable to reach Piers Morgan.

He’s never answered any of our emails. 

We left a message with Nick Jones, Kirsty Young’s husband, at Soho House.

He didn’t come back to us.

♦♦♦

IN 2005 Piers Morgan published his best-selling memoirs, The Insider.

It’s an account of his years as editor of the News of the World (1994-1995) and Daily Mirror (1995-2004).

There’s not a word about the “dark arts” practiced at the Daily Mirror

In the late 1990s anti-corruption detectives at Scotland Yard launched Operation Two Bridges against Jonathan Rees and his Southern Investigations private detective agency.

They wanted information about Rees’ attempts to corrupt serving police officers — and about his alleged involvement in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan.

Invoices seized from Southern Investigations during Operation Two Bridges show the firm was a key element in Piers Morgan’s editorial strategy.

INSIDER SECRETS PIERS MORGAN published his memoirs — The Insider — but there's no mention of the

INSIDER SECRETS
PIERS MORGAN published his memoirs — The Insider — in 2005 but there’s no mention of the “dark arts” used at the Daily Mirror
Photo; PA

In August 2011 BBC economics editor Robert Peston obtained a set of these invoices.

He revealed that, between October 1997 and September 1999, the Mirror group used Jonathan Rees on 230 occasions.

Peston calculated that the Daily and Sunday Mirror paid Rees just under £67,000.

Many of these were simple “fishing expeditions” — finding out about famous people’s financial affairs.

Often the information was not newsworthy — and nothing appeared in the Daily Mirror.

Press Gang has also obtained a set of these invoices.

Here are some of the entries that could have gone into Piers Morgan’s diaries — if he’d decided to tell the truth about what the Daily Mirror was really up to …

20 May 1998  The Mirror’s Gary Jones ordered “confidential enquiries” on “Emma Noble”, then girlfriend of former Prime Minister John Major’s son. No private information appeared in the paper. Cost: £282.

13 July 1998  In another fishing expedition, Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to obtain “bankers details” on No 10 advisor Roger Liddle and lobbyist Derek Draper. The two men were suspected of selling access to Labour ministers. The cost — £662.47.

21 Sept 1998  Arthur Scargill’s wife, Dr Margaret Scargill, was the target. Gary Jones spent £403.37 on “bankers details”. Nothing appeared in the paper. 

THE FORMer English rugby srar, hacked by the Mirror.

WILL CARLING
THE FORMER captain of the England rugby team, Carling was blagged by the Daily Mirror in 1998. The paper published details of his bank account and mortgage.
Photo: PA

6 Oct 1998  The paper paid Jonathan Rees £677.97 to dig out personal information on Will Carling. The former England rugby international was in the news because he’d left his wife. Gary Jones ordered the search for “Financial / Company Information” which was extracted from “RBS, Abbey National”. The bill was £677.97. 
    This time personal information was published. In a long piece written by Gary Jones, Colin Price and Oonagh Blackman on October 7, two quotes stand out. One says: “Last month Carling took £5,000 in salary from the business to pay his mortgage.” One of his companies — Inspirational Horizons — “has just £1,500 in its account”. This could have come from his RBS bank account. 
    The second states: “The star, who has a £400,000 mortgage on the five bedroom property, needs to find more than £2,800 a month in repayments.” Did this come from his Abbey National mortgage? Will Carling told us
 he did not want to comment. 

19 Oct 1998  Jonathan Rees sent Gary Jones two bills relating to an investigation of the business affairs of TV presenter Anthea Turner’s then boyfriend Grant Bovey. Turner had left her husband the previous January and moved in with Bovey. The first invoice, for £500, was for “confidential enquiries” about Bovey and his wife. The second — “undertaking detailed financial searches” into Bovey — was worth £569. The total was £1,069.
A double page spread had appeared on Bovey’s affairs four days earlier. The piece — written by Gary Jones, Matthew Wright and Oonagh Blackman— stated Bovey’s bankers were “calling for crisis talks to discuss his personal problems.” “They have told him to stop issuing cheques after running up an overdraft of nearly £16,000.” This information could have been blagged from Bovey’s bank.

PETER MANDELSON   THE LABOUR minister was another victim of the Daily Mirror. He resigned as Trade Secretary in December 1998 after it was revealed he'd failed to declare a £378,000 personal loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson. The day before his resignation the Mirror's Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to blag details of the Trade Minister's bank and mortgage accounts. The Mirror revealed Mandelson had £50,000 in a Coutts account — and that his £150,000 mortgage with the Britannia Building Society cost £1,000 a month. According to the BBC's Robert Peston, the Mandelson operation cost the Mirror £1,116.  Photo: PA

PETER MANDELSON
THE LABOUR minister was another victim of the Daily Mirror. He resigned as Trade Secretary in December 1998 after it was revealed he’d failed to declare a £378,000 personal loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson. The day before his resignation the Mirror’s Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to blag details of the Trade Minister’s bank and mortgage accounts. The Mirror revealed Mandelson had £50,000 in a Coutts account — and that his £150,000 mortgage with the Britannia Building Society cost £1,000 a month. According to the BBC’s Robert Peston, the Mandelson operation cost the Mirror £1,116.
Photo: PA

4 Jan 1999  Gary Jones paid Jonathan Rees £499.37 to find information about Alistair Campbell, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press secretary. No personal financial details appeared in the Mirror. The cost was £499.37.

15 Mar 1999   The Mirror pays £264.37 for information about Mick Jagger — no confidential material appeared in the paper.

♦♦♦

ALL OF these individuals have grounds for suing the Daily Mirror.

Their chances of success have been strengthened by last month’s verdict in the eight “sample” cases heard by Mr Justice Mann.

The judge ruled that, even for those whose confidential details were never published in the newspaper, damages can be awarded.

His judgment also reveals the extraordinary scale of illegal newsgathering —  the “dark arts” — at the Mirror and its stablemates.

CROCODILE CONTRITION  THE MIRROR'S limited apology published in February this year — more than a decade after the paper began phone hacking. In the civil case last month, Mr Justice Mann considered this to be a

CROCODILE CONTRITION
THE MIRROR’S limited apology published in February this year — more than 15 years after the paper began phone hacking. In the civil case last month, Mr Justice Mann considered this to be motivated by “tactical” legal reasons rather than genuine “contrition” …

Up to now, for example, Press Gang has only been aware of two private eyes who were used by the papers.

They are Jonathan Rees of Southern Investigations in the years up to 1999 and Steve Whittamore in the early 2000s.

The BBC revealed that the Daily and Sunday Mirror spent £67,000 with Southern Investigations between 1997 and 1999. 

An analysis by ITV News showed that the Daily Mirror paid Steve Whittamore at least £92,000 up until his arrest in March 2003.

That makes a total of £159,000.

But the Mann verdict reveals this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Judge Mann noted that the Mirror papers:

“admitted paying over £2.25 million (in over 13,000 invoices) to certain named private eyes in the years from 2000 to 2007.”  

“The total covers a lot of agents, and some of their work may have been legitimate.”

But the judge added that the Mirror’s legal team:

“has admitted that ‘an unquantifiable but substantial’ number of the inquiries made of the agents is likely to have been to obtain private information that could not be obtained lawfully.” 

In other words, illegal news-gathering — including but not limited to phone hacking — was taking place on a colossal scale at the group.

♦♦♦

Published: 7 June 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦

NOTES

1  There are reporting restrictions in the recent civil case against the Mirror group. Mr Justice Mann has ordered the names of several journalists should be redacted — apparently because they are the subject of active police inquiries.

2  A more detailed analysis of Mr Justice Mann’s decision will be included in a planned article — The Mirror: Crack’d From Side To Side — about the group’s disastrous management of the scandal.

3  Since the Mann judgment opens the way to everyone targeted by the Daily Mirror, a full list of all those whose names are included in the Southern Investigations invoices will be added to this post later. They include, for example, the environmental activist Daniel “Swampy” Hooper as well as scores of ordinary people …

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
DIAL M FOR MORGAN
THE JUDGE in last month’s civil case against the Mirror group accepted that phone hacking became a key feature of the papers in mid-1999. In part four of A Pretty Despicable Man Press Gang presents cast-iron evidence Daily Mirror reporters were hacking the phones of senior politicians a year earlier…

 ♦♦♦

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FAKE CONVICTIONS

August 29, 2014
FAKE CONVICTIONS

THE COLLAPSE of the Tulisa Contostavlos trial in July is the latest scandal to hit Rupert Murdoch’s prize investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood.

The case against the singer-turned-entertainer was thrown out when the judge said Mahmood — also known as the “Fake Sheik” — lied when he gave evidence to the court.

Now the Metropolitan Police is considering possible perjury charges against the Sun on Sunday reporter.

Lies have been a staple part of Mahmood’s amoral newspaper career — and Press Gang has been at the heart of exposing many of them.

Here we republish an article which first appeared in April 2012.

It tells the story of an unscrupulous journalist who will do anything — including committing perjury in the witness box — to get ahead.

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS THE SINGER"S trial collapsed in July after the judge found that mazher Mahmood had lied under oath.  Photo: PA                                                              THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box ...    Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box … Photo: PA

♦♦♦

ONE OF the few people to come out of the News of the World hacking scandal with his reputation intact was Investigations Editor Mazher Mahmood.

After the gaoling of royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private eye Glenn Mulcaire in 2007, Mahmood was held up as a beacon of the real News of the World.

In 2008 the Murdoch-owned HarperCollins published Confessions of a Fake Sheik in which Mahmood claimed:

“To date I have been responsible for more than 230 successful criminal prosecutions.”

When he made a statement for the Leveson Inquiry in 2011 the figure has risen to 253.

But when Press Gang challenged Mahmood to provide the evidence to substantiate the claim his employers News International refused to provide a list.

We carried out our own investigaton and went through every article Mazher Mahmood had written for the News of the World.

There was only evidence to support 70.

And we found evidence Mazher Mahmood may have protected a relative who was involved in a fake passport racket …

THE MAN WITH NO FACE One of the few photographs of Mazher Mahmood, taken many years ago. The former Investigations Editor of the News of the World has claimed that publishing his picture would endanger his life.

THE MAN WITH NO FACE
ONE OF the few photographs of Mazher Mahmood, taken many years ago. The former Investigations Editor of the News of the World claims that publishing his picture would endanger his life …

♦♦♦

WHEN FORMER News of the World Investigations Editor Mazher Mahmood appeared before Lord Leveson in December 2011, he was allowed a special concession.

Leveson ordered that the television cameras be turned off.

“For good reason,” he said, “this evidence is being heard in circumstances that, although the witness’ account will be given orally, it will not be screened visually … to the public.”

“I make that order having regard to all the circumstances of the case.”

Leveson never explained what the “good reason” was but it’s likely the judge accepted Mahmood’s claim that showing his face would endanger his life.

Five years earlier, however, another judge had come to a different conclusion.

It happened as a result of a Mazher Mahmood undercover sting involving the MP George Galloway.

Posing as the Fake Sheik, Mahmood had dinner with Galloway at the Dorchester Hotel in London in March 2006.

GEORGE GALLOWAY The MP was one of the few victims of Mazher Mahmood's "Fake Sheikh" stings to see through the disguise. He posted photographs of Mahmood on the internet.

GEORGE GALLOWAY
THE MP was one of the few victims of Mazher Mahmood’s Fake Sheik stings to see through the disguise. He posted photographs of Mahmood on the internet.   Photo: PA

Galloway believes Mahmood was trying to entice him into illegally accepting campaign contributions from foreign donors.

“After dessert”, Mahmood says in his book Confessions of a Fake Sheik, “Galloway enjoyed a coffee and posed for a picture with myself and my minder Jaws …”

Jaws — a giant of a man with a “full deck of gold teeth with diamonds embedded” — was actually Mahmood Qureshi, Mazher Mahmood’s second cousin.

Galloway later remembered a section about Mazher Mahmood in Andrew Marr’s book My Trade which contained a description of Jaws.

Galloway went public — and threatened to publish phototgraphs of Mazher Mahmood on his Respect Party website.

The News of the World were awarded a temporary injunction preventing the posting of the images.

But the following day Judge Mitting decided to lift the injunction.

The judge was not impressed by the argument that publication of Mahmood’s image might be useful to targets out for revenge.

“For photographs of Mr Mahmood to be of any use to such people they would have to have a whole package of further information,” the judge noted, “not least information as to his whereabouts and habits.”

“Armed with such information, the photographs might be of some assistance, but one would have expected anybody who had got that information also to have been able to obtain at a mimimum a description — more likely a photograph — of Mr Mahmood to permit them to inflict whatever harm it was that they might have in mind.”

Judge Mitting concluded:

“I am satisfied that the true purpose of this application is not protection of Mr Mahmood’s life and physical integrity but the protection of his earning capacity and position as an investigative journalist and his utility to his employers in that respect.”

♦♦♦

LORD LEVESON’S decision to switch off the cameras inevitably increased the mystique surrounding one of Rupert Murdoch’s star reporters — if his life was under threat, it suggested his journalism must be important.

In his sworn statement to the Inquiry, Mahmood claimed his journalism at the News of the World had led to the successful prosecution of 253 people.

When he gave oral evidence in December 2012, he said this figure was already old hat.

“It’s incorrect, actually,” he said on oath.

“The total has gone up to 261, and as we sit here at the moment, at Southwark Crown Court, two more women are being sentenced as a result of my work.”

So he was claiming a grand total of 263 convictions.

When Press Gang examined the News of the World for the period Mazher Mahmood worked there, we could only find evidence of 70 convictions (see the Appendix for the full list).

In his statement to the Leveson Inquiry Mahmood said:

“… ethics should be of paramount importance in all fields of journalism because in my view a large part of investigative journalism is to expose moral-wrongdoing … ”

The Leveson Inquiry was to examine Mahmood’s own moral compass in some detail.

When he gave evidence to the Inquiry in December last year, Mahmood was asked by barrister David Barr about the reasons why he left the Sunday Times back in 1988.

“Is it right that you left the Sunday Times under something of a cloud …?”

“We had a disagreement,” replied Mahmood, “Correct.”

This interpretation of the crisis that unfolded at the Sunday Times in December 1988 angered Roy Greenslade who had been the managing editor of the paper at the time.

He compiled a witness statement and a series of exhibits and submitted them to the Leveson team.

Greenslade told how, in 1988, he had received a complaint from a police officer about a story Mazher Mahmood had written the previous week.

The story was about a chief inspector in Plymouth who had been convicted of drink driving after an accident.

ROY GREENSLADE The former Sunday Times executive — now professor of journalism at City University London — revealed that Mazher Mahmood resigned from the paper in 1988 minutes before he was to be sacked for dishonesty.

ROY GREENSLADE
THE FORMER Sunday Times executive — now professor of journalism at City University, London — revealed that Mazher Mahmood resigned from the paper in 1988 minutes before he was to be sacked for dishonesty.   Photo: Roy Greenslade

Mahmood wrote that the officer had been demoted to the rank of constable.

In fact, the demotion was only to inspector.

The Sunday Times apologised for the error the following week.

When he was challenged about the mistake, Mahmood claimed that it was the fault of the Devon News Agency which had sent a report of the court case to the Sunday Times.

The news agency were contacted — they insisted their original version had the correct demotion.

The Sunday Times computer room was asked to retrieve the version the agency had sent.

This showed the demotion was to constable.

But in the course of this inquiry, a computer operator mentioned that Mazher Mahmood had recently visited the room.

A more detailed investigation began.

It uncovered an earlier version of the news agency story — the demotion to inspector was correctly reported.

Mahmood admitted going to the computer room but denied tampering with the computer record.

A meeting of senior executives chaired by editor Andrew Neil took place.

It was decided he would be fired.

After the meeting, Greenslade found a letter of resignation from Mahmood on his desk.

“Because of the nature of my work,” Mahmood wrote, “I am only able to operate with the absolute support and trust of my senior colleagues and lawyers, but now that my honesty and integrity is in question, I feel there is no longer a place on the paper.”

After Greenslade’s devastating witness statement, Lord Leveson called Mahmood back before him in January 2013.

David Barr now questioned Mahmood again:

“Tampering with the computer file in order to pass the mistake from yourself to the Devon News Agency was wrong, wasn’t it”

“Absolutely,” admitted Mahmood.

“Look, I was a young reporter,” he added, “and I’d had a series of run-ins with Mr Greenslade while at the paper, and, you know, I’d made a mistake.”

“I acknowledge that, and rather than incur the wrath of an executive I didn’t get on with, I foolishly thought the best way would be to cover my mistake.”

“It was the wrong thing to do, and I resigned.”

Roy Greenslade does not remember having a bad working relationship with Mahmood.

♦♦♦

WHEN THE News of the World closed in July 2011, Mahmood was without a paper for a couple of weeks.

But at the end of August he re-joined the Sunday Times.

Editor John Witherow was asked if he had any concerns about taking on the man who had been caught lying to the paper in 1988.

“Clearly, we checked him out very carefully and needed reassurances that he was not involved in any way with the phone hacking, which he assured us he wasn’t, and independently we were assured he wasn’t.”

“As far as I am aware, the police have no interest in him, so that was very important before we took him on.”

Witherow was happy to have a man of Mahmood’s undercover skills on his staff:

“He has an exemplary record on these sorts of stories.”

“He has instigated, I think, about 250 prosecutions of people, for exposing criminality.”

“Yes, we were concerned but I think he is a remarkable operator in that form of journalism.”

We asked Witherow if he had checked to see if Mazher Mahmood’s claims about the number of convictions stacked up.

He didn’t reply.

WASEEM MAHMOOD, OBE Mazher Mahmood's early career was built on betraying his family including his brother Waseem. At a family dinner, he revealed that some of his brother's colleagues at BBC Birmingham were moonlighting. When Mazher Mahmood exposed the practice, Waseem was forced to resign. When

WASEEM MAHMOOD, OBE
Waseem Mahmood is Mazher’s brother. He was a successful BBC producer in Birmingham in the 1980s — until his brother wrote an exposé of moonlighting at the Pebble Mill studios based on gossip around the Mahmood family dinner table. Waseem Mahmood says: “With only ‘an unnamed BBC insider’ identified as the source for the revelations, I tendered my resignation the day after the article appeared, and when my mother refused to admonish my brother, claiming that it was a good story and that ‘he was only doing his job’, I packed up my wife and children and left the family home, never to return.” Waseem was forced to go abroad to rebuild his shattered career but succeeded — he was awarded an OBE in the 2005 News Years Honours List for his media work in countries affected by war. Photo: Waseem Mahmood

♦♦♦

WHEN MAZHER Mahmood started work at the News of the World in December 1991, he was one of many investigative reporters on the paper.

Under editor Patsy Chapman, he was just another member of the team.

When Piers Morgan took over in January 1994, it’s clear that he didn’t think much of Mahmood.

Readers of his 2005 book The Insider will not find the name Mazher Mahmood in the index.

The feeling was mutual — there’s no mention of Piers Morgan in the index of Mahmood’s 2008 Confessions of a Fake Sheik.

It was not until Phil Hall took over from Morgan in August 1995 that Mahmood’s star began to rise.

Hall made him Investigations Editor and, in March 1996, the paper made a major claim for the success of Mahmood’s articles.

The piece followed the conviction of a solicitor gaoled for six months for living off immoral earnings after an undercover operation.

The conviction, claimed the News of the World, “brings the total of villains successfully prosecuted after being exposed in our pages by Mazher to a staggering EIGHTY in four years.”

But, up to that point, the Press Gang analysis of the News of the World had only carried stories about 13 named people who’d been convicted.

With the mention of a further five unnamed people, the maximum number of successful prosecutions was 18.

♦♦♦

IN THE course of our research, we found an extraordinary story which Mazher Mahmood had published in September 1996.

On the face of it, it was a typical Mahmood operation: he infiltrated a gang run by a Bradford hairdresser who were running a fake passport racket.

The hairdresser was buying genuine passports from British Asians and then amending them so that illegal immigrants could enter the country.

Mahmood posed as one of these buyers and successfully entered the UK via a Eurostar train from Paris.

What made this article unusual was that the man buying the genuine passports was “a local thug called Mehmood, known as Jaws because he has gold teeth studded with diamonds.”

Although the article calls him “Mehmood” and doesn’t give his last name, the description is uncannily similar to the one Mazher Mahmood gives for the Jaws that later became his bodyguard.

This undercover operation could easily have netted three successful criminal prosecutions for Mahmood — yet there is no evidence that he went to the police.

In our recorded delivery letter sent to Mazher Mahmood in March 2012, we asked him if the Jaws in the article was the man who became his bodyguard.

He didn’t reply.

Jaws is one of the key supporting actors in the Mazher Mahmood story.

Until he was paralysed in a car crash in 2006, he had been Mahmood’s bodyguard for several years.

In his book Confessions of a Fake Sheik, published in 2008, Mahmood says: “Jaws was huge, and spent every day at the gym, so was a powerful looking man as well.”

“He was from Bradford and had spent his early adult life committing a number of petty crimes in and around the area.”

“He’d gone to see a fortune teller who told him that a long-lost relative would change his life, so he flew out to Pakistan and spent all his money trying to find a relative who’d do that, speaking in his Yorkshire accent as he went; but found no one to help so returned home”.

“He saw my name in the paper and called me, and I did — change his life, that is.”

“He joined me, working as my bodyguard, and with his size and those teeth he was an unforgettable sight.”

“He was a great man to have standing next to you, intimidating and forceful when needed.”

But three years earlier Jaws, alias Mahmood Qureshi, had given a different version of their relationship.

"JAWS" Mahmmod Quereshi — known as Jaws for his diamond-studded gold teeth — is a key figure in the Mazher Mahmood story. A former criminal, he became a minder and a fixer for Mazher Mahmood.

“JAWS”
Mahmmod Quereshi — known as Jaws for his diamond-studded gold teeth — is a key figure in the Mazher Mahmood story. A former criminal, he became a minder and a fixer for Mazher Mahmood.

He was appearing in a libel action brought by one of the gang Mazher Mahmood had accused of trying to kidnap Victoria Beckham.

Jaws had been part of the undercover team infiltrating the so-called gang.

He was accused of inciting gang members.

While he was on the stand, in April 2005, Jaws changed his evidence.

At first, he’d insisted that he hadn’t been asked by Mazher Mahmood to “initiate conversation about the kidnap”.

But later he admitted that Mazher Mahmood had asked him to do so.

David Price, acting for the gang member, seized on the change of evidence.

He accused Jaws of trying to protect Mahmood in his earlier testimony — claiming that Mahmood had given Jaws “a chance in life” after a life of crime with employment at the News of the World.

“You are trying to protect your cousin,” said Price, “because he gave you a chance in life”.

Jaws replied:

“How did he give me a chance? He did not give me a chance. How?”

Price then went through Jaws’ criminal career — stretching back to 1982 before finally ending in 1999.

“You owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Mahmood and that explains why you lied to the court this morning, that’s what I’m suggesting. Do you want to comment on that?”

“No, I do not want to comment, there’s no comment on that,” replied Qureshi.

“I did not lie. I got it wrong.”

Later, Jaws explained that his entire earnings from his involvement in various News of the World stories was “less than £10,000 … perhaps near £5,000.”

♦♦♦

BY THE time Rebekah Brooks took over the editorship in May 2000, the News of the World was claiming 103 convictions for Mazher Mahmood’s investigations.

This is at odds with the Press Gang analysis at that point: 32 named individuals with another nine who were unnamed.

By the time she left to edit The Sun in January 2003, the News of the World claimed Mazher Mahmood’s convictions stood at 119 compared with our tally of 32 named defendants with a further nine unnamed.

Brooks was replaced by Andy Coulson who lasted four years until he resigned in January 2007 after the paper’s Royal Correspondent Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking royal phones.

Under his leadership, Mazher Mahmood’s claimed convictions had jumped to 145 but the Press Gang version only showed 62 defendants successfully prosecuted (17 of them unnamed).

Colin Myler replaced Coulson — who went on to become David Cameron’s Director of Communications.

Myler was responsible for the biggest single leap in the claimant count of any News of the World editor — in April 2007 Mazher Mahmood’s total suddenly rocketed to 204 convictions.

Mazher Mahmood claims a high moral purpose: catching criminals, revealing "moral wrong-doing" and exposing hypocrisy. There's no doubt he's caught some serious criminals — including child abusers and would-be murderers — but the bulk of his journalism reveals a different picture. A third of his stories are about sex — over a quarter target celebrities or royalty. A substantial proportion of the people in his stories are originally from the Asian sub-continent. One of the ironies about Mahmood — the child of immigrant parents from Pakistan — is that he spent an enormous amount of his time in the ethnic  communities of Britain looking for people he can expose. This fed into a News of the World agenda that painted Britain as an "open house" for foreign scroungers, cheats and criminals.

THE News of the World claimed a high moral purpose for Mazher Mahmood’s work: catching criminals, revealing “moral wrong-doing” and exposing hypocrisy. There’s no doubt he caught a couple of serious criminals — including child abusers and would-be murderers — but the bulk of his journalism reveals a different picture. A third of his stories are about sex — over a quarter target celebrities or royalty. A substantial proportion of the people in his stories are originally from the Asian sub-continent. One of the ironies about Mahmood — the child of immigrant parents from Pakistan — is that he spent an enormous amount of his time in the ethnic communities of Britain looking for people to expose. This fed into a News of the World agenda that painted Britain as an “open house” for foreign scroungers, cheats and criminals.

This figure arrived out of the blue — the paper had carried reports of only two convictions since the paper’s previous claim of 145.

One possible explanation for the jump was a sting operation which Mazher Mahmood organised in May 2006 to catch illegal immigrants.

Pretending that he wanted people to work, he collected 70 people — and had them driven to the Colnbrook Detention Centre near Heathrow.

Police had already been tipped off and 66 were arrested and detained.

Press Gang asked the Home Office what happened to these people.

They were not able to tell us.

There is no doubt that they could all have been prosecuted for staying in Britain illegally.

But, if that is the case, then it is surprising that the News of the World didn’t report the fact.

There is another way of dealing with illegal immigrants — “administrative removal”.

This is where the immigrant agrees to go back home voluntarily.

This system is fast and cheap and avoids the courts.

Press Gang did not include these people — we considered that, if they had been prosecuted, the News of the World would have reported the fact.

By the time the paper closed in July 2011 it was claiming more than 250 successful criminal prosecutions.

Press Gang could find evidence of only 70 — with 18 of those unnamed.

♦♦♦

APPENDIX: The Successful Criminal Proesecutions of Mazher Mahmood

THE METHODOLOGY followed in preparing the following list of convictions was that all articles written by or featuring Mazher Mahmood were examined.

Between December 1991 and December 1995, physical copies of the News of the World were viewed on microfilm.

From January 1996 to July 2011, all News of the World articles on the Newsbank electronic database were analysed.

The research was carried out by Chris Nichols and Paddy French and took place at the British Library, Colindale, London.

The names of 52 individuals reported to have been convicted (including one where the name was with-held to protect a victim) are listed.

18 convictions where the names are not given are identified separately.

The date of the article where the conviction is reported, if available, is given.

In all cases, the article refers to the conviction and not the original exposé.

1991 No convictions reported.

1992 No convictions reported.

1993 6 convictions reported:
4 July: Terry Valvona & Rosemary Iredale
5 Sept: Norman Wardell
12 Dec: Syed Rizvi, Parghat Heer, Fahim Iqbal

1994 No convictions reported.

1995 9 convictions reported (including 5 unnamed):
17 Sept: Shafique & Salim Mumtaz, Iqbal Raja, Ghulam Murtaza and 5 other unnamed individuals

1996 4 convictions reported:
17 March: Gordon Brown, Paul Garlick
24 March: Stephen Harvey
8 September: Kim Lisles

1997 7 convictions reported (including 3 unnamed):
10 Aug: Mohinder Singh
17 Aug: Bruce Allen, Jonathan Pickering and three others, unnamed
21 Dec: Brenda Tonnesson

1998 2 convictions reported:
14 June: Iqbal Master
20 Dec: Clifford Davies

1999 4 convictions reported:
9 May: John Alford 26 Sept: Earl Hardwicke, Stefan Thwaites
17 Oct: disc jockey Johnnie Walker

2000 7 convictions were reported:
20 Feb: Dr Manohar Rangwani
28 May: Mohammed Khan
13 Aug: Mohammed Yousif
1 Oct: Gary Harris, David Weir, Barry Dickenson Undated: Ishmail Pirbhai [not reported in 2000 but cited in final News of the World issue in July 2011]

2001 No convictions reported.

2002 3 convictions reported (including I unnamed):
2 June: Shaheen Begolli
29 Sept: Antonio Russo + 1 unnamed)

2003 5 convictions reported:
6 July: Joseph Rivas, Luzum Balliu
14 Sept: Neil Montgomery
28 Sept: David Cheney, Sultan Merchant

FINAL EDITION The successful criminal prosecutions of Mazher Mahmood were plastered all over the final issue of the paper in July 2011. They were bogus ...

FINAL EDITION
THE News of the World was often confused about its claims for the success of Mazher Mahmood. In March 1996, for example, the paper said the number of successful prosecutions was 80 in four years. By December 1997 it was claiming a total of 88 in three years… Often it couldn’t even make its mind up about what it was actually talkng about. In February 2004 it was boasting of 127 people “behind bars” — an absurd claim when many defendants were fined, given suspended sentences or ordered to do community service.

2004 2 convictions reported:
15 Feb: San Keung Yau, Keith Blasdale

2005 3 convictions reported:
30 Jan: Niki Dimitrov
10 April: Agha Mohammed, Besnik Qema

2006 11 convictions reported (including 9 unnamed):
23 July: Paul Singh, Adeola Magbagebeola and 9 others, unnamed.

2007 3 convictions reported:
8 April: Rani & Joginder Kashyap
22 April: Name withheld to protect daughter [but counted as named for the purposes of this survey].

2008 2 convictions reported:
26 Oct: Mohammed Kutubuddin
Undated: Gary Pennant [not reported in 2008 but cited in final News of the World edition in July 2011]

2009 No convictions reported.

2010 2 convictions reported:
24 Jan: Suresh Kumar, Baldev Sidhu

2011 No convictions reported.
The News of the World closed in July 2011.

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