Posts Tagged ‘Metropolitan Police’

THE BUSINESS OF MURDER

April 3, 2017

corrupt_header_part_5

FEBRUARY 2017 was a bad month for one of the prime suspects in the unsolved murder of private eye Daniel Morgan.

Jonathan Rees — boss of the No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — lost his High Court action against the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

He brought the action after his criminal trial for the murder collapsed in 2011 — and after he’d spent 22 months in prison.

He’d been hoping to make a substantial killing in compensation.

Private Eye, which puts the total cost of the case at more than £1.5 million, says Rees will appeal.

If he fails, he faces a huge legal bill — on top of other mounting debts.

He may have to sell his £1 million house in Surrey …

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THIS 5,000 word article is the fifth instalment of an investigation into Southern Investigations 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 one of the prime suspects in the case.
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♦♦♦

WHEN MR Justice Mitting dismissed Rees’ action on February 21, it was a major blow to the murder suspect.

He’d funded the action by doing a deal with his solicitors, Freedman Alexander of Ewell in Kent.

If he won, their costs would be paid by the Metropolitan Police.

If he failed, their fees would be secured by a mortgage on Rees’ four-bedroomed property in Weybridge, Surrey.

This charge was registered in November last year.

The amount is not known.

The Weybridge property is worth a million pounds but it already has two other mortgages .

Rees and his partner Margaret Harrison — a former lover of the murdered Daniel Morgan — bought the detached house in March 2006 for £440,000.

This was shortly after Rees had finished serving a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother so she would lose custody of her child.

Rees and Harrison’s previous home in Thornton Heath, Croydon was sold for £290,000 in May 2005.

The couple took out a Bank of Scotland mortgage to pay for the new Weybridge property in 2006 and added a second — from Skye Loans Limited — shortly after.

Press Gang understands Rees was arrested in 2006 by  Scotland Yard’s Financial Crimes Unit in connection with a mortgage application on this house.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge him.

In addition to the three mortgages, there are also a series of court orders on the property.

In April 2008 the debt collection company Lowell Portfolio obtained judgment against Rees at Kingston County Court for an unspecified debt.

The same court granted Barclaycard a similar judgment against Rees in May 2008.

Again, the debt is not stated.

Another judgment was made against Rees at Cardiff County Court in favour of Link Financial Ltd for another debt.

REES_and_FILLERY_210

THE STORY SO FAR …
PRIVATE EYE Jonathan Rees (left) should have been an immediate suspect in the murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan in 1987 — the two men were love rivals and were arguing about a botched security operation. But Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) kept that crucial information — as well as his friendship with Rees and his own involvement in the ill-fated 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 in the Southern Investigations detective agency, Sid 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 cocaine 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. In 2008 Rees and Fillery were finally charged in connection with Daniel Morgan’s death: Rees with murder and Fillery with attempting to pervert the course of justice. Part four — Getting Away With Murder — tells the story of how the case dramatically collapsed …
Photos: PA

Finally, the Manchester branch of the law firm Pannone obtained judgment at Kingston County Court in February 2014.

This was for the recovery of £12,247 in legal costs.

Pannone would not comment on the case.

♦♦♦

REES’ ATTEMPT to make a financial killing from the Metropolitan Police reached its climax in the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this year.

The case opened on January 17.

The judge was the experienced Sir John Mitting.

Rees was joined by three other claimants.

Two of them — his former brothers-in-law Glenn and Garry Vian — had been also been accused of the murder of Daniel Morgan.

They were joined by former detective sergeant Sid Fillery, accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

SUSPECTS_400

SUSPECTS
AN ARTIST’S impression of the five men charged in connection with the Daniel Morgan murder in 2008 — from left to right, Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian, Sid Fillery, Garry Vian and James “Jimmy” Cook. The prosecution case was that Jonathan Rees ordered the killing, Glenn Vian carried out the execution, his brother Garry was the look-out and Jimmy Cook was the getaway driver. Detective sergeant Fillery covered their tracks. The case finally collapsed in 2011 and all except Jimmy Cook sued the Metropolitan Police.
Illustration: Elizabeth Cook, PA

One of the five men originally charged in connection with the murder — James “Jimmy” Cook — did not take part in the civil action.

The remaining four claimed the prosecution against them was motivated by malice by Scotland Yard in general and in particular by the man who led the investigation — Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Dave Cook.

In addition, they claimed DCS Cook was guilty of misfeasance in a public office.

They sought compensation — in the case of Rees and the Vians, including the 22 months they spent on remand.

In the case of Sid Fillery, for the three months he spent in prison before he was released on bail.

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REES, FILLERY and the Vians based their claim on the way police handled two witnesses.

One was a professional drug dealer called James Ward.

The claimants argued that Ward had been coached in his evidence by DCS Cook.

They also claimed police deliberately suppressed material about Ward which was favourable to the defence.

Ward had a history of informing on other criminals to get reduced prison sentences.

David Whitehouse QC, for Glenn Vian, said Ward:

dave_cook_200

DCS DAVE COOK
THE EXPERIENCED murder detective was the senior investigating officer in the fourth and fifth attempts to bring Daniel Morgan’s murderers to book. When he left the Met in 2007 to join the Serious Organised Crime Agency he agreed to continue as the lead investigator in the Daniel Morgan case. He retired in 2013. 
Photo: PA

” … 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 judges to seek lighter sentences when he is caught.”

In 1987 — the year Daniel Morgan was murdered — Ward was gaoled for two years instead of the expected seven because of the help he’d given police.

Ward knew Rees, Fillery and the Vians.

By the early 2000s he’d become a millionaire as part of a major drugs smuggling ring which also included Garry Vian.

In 2004 Ward and Garry Vian were caught during Scotland Yard’s Operation Bedingham and remanded in custody in August 2004.

At this point Ward decided to see if he could secure another reduced sentence by turning informant.

He chose the Daniel Morgan murder as his bargaining tool.

In February 2005 he met DCS Cook but made it clear he would not give evidence against Rees and the other suspects:

“That will resolve (sic) in someone’s death, my wife, son, grandchildren,” he said.

“Not worth it,” he concluded.

He was only prepared to give intelligence.

He told DCS Cook that the motive for the murder centred on a multi-million pound drug-dealing ring.

The following exchange took place:

Ward: “Where shall I start?”

DCS Cook:

“Tell me what you know. I’ll give you a head start. It was Glenn with the axe, Garry was there and Jimmy with the car.”

The claimants’ team argued this prompt meant Ward’s evidence had been “deliberately contaminated by [DCS] Cook”.

Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

At that stage, he noted:

“Cook was gathering intelligence not evidence.”

Ward later agreed to give evidence.

Once he was accepted as an “assisting offender” a “sterile corridor” was created between the detectives de-briefing him and the Daniel Morgan murder team.

This was to prevent murder squad detectives influencing witnesses.

The claimants team argued that DCS Cook also had the opportunity to prompt Ward by phone.

Again, Mitting was unimpressed:

John-Mitting

SIR JOHN MITTING
THE HIGH COURT judge heard the civil action brought by Jonathan Rees and the other claimants against the Metropolitan Police.

” … it overlooks the fact that Ward was in prison and so the opportunity for unrestricted and unrecorded phone calls either did not exist or was so diminished as to make the possibility highly unlikely.”

Mitting accepted that the de-brief of Ward was a “textbook” exercise.

♦♦♦

IN JULY 2005 Ward was given a 17 year sentence for the Bedingham offences — Garry Vian was sent down for 14 years.

But Ward’s willingness to give evidence in the Daniel Morgan case saw his sentence drastically reduced.

In March 2007 his 17 year sentence was reduced to five years as a direct consequence of his willingness to give evidence in the Daniel Morgan murder trial.

Part of his de-briefing included “cleansing” his reputation by admitting any criminal activity not known to the police.

He pleaded guilty to a further 13 drugs offences and asked for another nine to be taken into consideration.

For these crimes he was sentenced to a further three years in prison.

Investigators estimated that Ward had made £3.7 million from drugs smuggling.

A separate Proceeds of Crime investigation was also carried out.

Ward was eventually ordered to surrender £633,000.

There was also a money laundering investigation which involved Ward and his wife.

This investigation generated a substantial amount of information including 18 crates of documents which were made available to the murder investigation in 2007.

They were not examined by the murder team — and the prosecution did not disclose them to the defence.

These files included new and damaging evidence about Ward’s activities as an informant.

Then, in 2010, even more damaging documents turned up.

These showed Ward, who was supposed to have “cleansed” his reputation by revealing all his criminality, hadn’t told everything.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD

NEW SCOTLAND YARD
MORE THAN 750,000 pages of documents have been generated in the Daniel Morgan murder case. The failure to track down some of these papers proved to be a major liability in the trial of Jonathan Rees and the other suspects …

The documents included what appeared to be an admission that he ordered the murder of a drug dealer.

In the criminal case, the judge ruled that Ward could not give evidence.

In this year’s “malicious prosecution” action, the claimants’ legal team argued that police had deliberately suppressed this undisclosed material.

Judge Mitting accepted there were errors which displayed “a want of due diligence.”

But he added:

“I reject the suggestion that [detectives] deliberately suppressed material which they knew or believed might have undermined Ward’s evidence.”

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THE SECOND witness was another criminal, Gary Eaton.

The claimants in the “malicious prosecution” action argued that his evidence was also contaminated.

Eaton was a volatile, unstable character with a long history of mental problems.

He had an alcohol problem, a history of lying and often resorted to violence, both against himself and others.

When he met murder investigators in July 2006, he claimed he was offered £50,000 by James “Jimmy” Cook to carry out the murder.

Daniel Morgan was killed because he’d found out about a drugs and money laundering operation.

Sid Fillery “set it up,” Eaton claimed, and Jonathan Rees knew about it.

At this meeting it was clear Eaton either didn’t know about the Vians’ alleged involvement — or wasn’t prepared to say.

In the High Court action, counsel for the claimants pointed to a question from DCS Cook which they said showed him prompting Eaton.

DCS Cook said:

“Give me the names of the brothers.”

Eaton couldn’t identify them.

When Eaton was accepted as an “assisting offender” he was passed to other officers, not connected with the murder investigation, to carry out the debriefing.

As with Ward, there was supposed to be a “sterile corridor” between the de-briefers and the murder team.

In fact, there was constant mobile phone contact between Eaton and DCS Cook.

In September 2006 Eaton dramatically changed his testimony.

He now said that he had been at the Golden Lion at the time of the murder — he was in the pub when he was asked to go outside.

He said he saw Daniel Morgan’s body on the ground.

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MURDER SCENE
THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. Gary Eaton’s late admission that he had been there was not believed by the judge in the criminal case.
Photo: PA

He said Jimmy Cook was in a car which then drove away.

He also now remembered that Glenn Vian was involved — but still couldn’t remember the name of the other brother.

During this period, there were many phone calls between Eaton and DCS Cook  — in breach of the “sterile corridor”.

There were several reports from other officers expressing concern about these contacts.

In the pre-trial hearings in the criminal case, DCS Cook prepared a schedule of the phone calls as he could remember them.

The judge in that case, Sir David Maddison, stated:

“The telephone records now available … indicate direct communication between DCS Cook and Mr Eaton by text and / or phone call on 36 days during this period.”

“… the final version of DCS Cook’s schedule refers to only six days …”

The judge did not find Eaton’s version of events at the Golden Lion credible — and concluded he wasn’t there.

Judge Mitting, in the High Court action, was blunt:

“By prompting a potentially unreliable witness to implicate Glenn and Garry Vian in the Morgan murder and then to conceal the fact that he had done so from the CPS and prosecuting counsel, [DCS] Cook did an act which tended to pervert the course of justice.”

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DCS Cook has always denied coaching Eaton — he says all the calls concerned his welfare and his often turbulent personal life.

Eaton, it was argued, was not a typical witness.

Usually, assisting offenders were in prison, seeking to give evidence against other criminals in return for a reduced sentence.

Eaton was a free man who not only volunteered information about the Daniel Morgan murder but also confessed to a large number of criminal offences.

He also surrendered £80,000 which he said was the proceeds of his criminal activities.

JONATHAN REES


WATCHED … 
JONATHAN REES photographed in the late 1990s outside the offices of Southern Investigations in Thornton Heath. Rees did not realise the premises were bugged — detectives heard him planning to plant drugs on an innocent mother as part of a plot to prove she was an unfit mother. He was gaoled for seven years …
Photo: Metropolitan Police

(In April 2008 Eaton pleaded guilty to a raft of offences and was gaoled for three years.

The offences would normally have attracted a sentence of 28 years.)

Because he was not in prison, it was impossible to observe a sterile corridor — and it wasn’t just DCS Cook he was contacting.

Judge Mitting also noted, in another part of his judgment:

” … I am not persuaded that (DCS) Cook intended that Eaton should give false evidence.”

“I believe it to be inconceivable that Cook gave Eaton a detailed account of what he believed had happened knowing that Eaton had not witnessed it.”

“I strongly suspect that Eaton had said something to Cook which prompted him to believe that Eaton may have been there.”

“The danger in this was that it encouraged an unstable individual with severe personality and psychiatric problems to say what he thought Cook wanted him to say, whether or not it was true.”

Former DCS Cook, by now retired, did not give evidence in this year’s High Court case.

He declined to comment for this article.

♦♦♦

JONATHAN REES was confident he would win the High Court case for “malicious prosecution.” 

But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

When the murder trial collapsed in 2011, Judge Maddison made it clear the case was properly brought.

There were, he said:

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

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FLOWERS FOR DANIEL
DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay flowers on the spot where Daniel died. It was only the family’s dogged determination that forced Scotland Yard to make a determined effort to catch Daniel’s killers …
Photo: PA

Mitting said that in order to prove they’d been the victims of a “malicious prosecution” the complainants had to prove three things:

— first, that it was the police who were responsible for the prosecution.

In other words, if the Crown Prosecution Service had known DCS Cook had prompted Eaton, the four would not have been charged.

— second, even if it was the police who were the driving force, the claimants also had to show that there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to charge them.

— finally, they had to show that DCS Cook’s actions were motivated by malice.

Judge Mitting found that the claimants case for “malicious prosecution” fell at the first hurdle.

It was not the police who took the decision to prosecute — it was the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The only thing the CPS was not told about was the extent of the calls between DCS Cook and Gary Eaton.

But — even without Eaton — there was plenty of other grounds to prosecute.

Mitting pointed out that, as early as 2002, the opinion of a leading CPS barrister was clear.

The judge quoted a report, written by DCS Cook but accepted as accurate, which said the barrister:

” …  was satisfied that we now know the identity of those responsible for Daniel Morgan’s murder but that the evidence available did not meet the threshold to enable a prosecution to be commenced.”

Mitting ruled that the CPS brought the prosecution — and the “malicious prosecution” argument fell in the case of all four claimants.

♦♦♦

JUDGE MITTING went further.

He added that, even if he had found that it was the police who were responsible for the prosecution, the claimants still had to prove there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to bring the case.

There was, he concluded, “reasonable and probable cause” to charge Rees and the Vians.

He examined the evidence against each:

Jonathan Rees

“The undisputed starting point for the case against Rees,” Mitting noted, was the fact he arranged the fatal rendezvous with Daniel Morgan.

In addition, “inconsistencies” in his accounts of his movements and telephone calls on the night of the murder were evidence Rees had something to conceal.

Kevin Lennon, Rees’ book-keeper, said Rees had told him on several occasions he planned to have Daniel Morgan murdered.

The “key evidence” was that of Andrew Docherty, the former partner of Glenn and Garry Vian’s mother, Patricia.

He worked occasionally for Rees and Fillery and, on one occasion, saw Rees give Glenn Vian £8,000 in cash which Glenn told Docherty was part-payment for the murder.

Glenn Vian

James Ward said that in 1993 or 1994 Glenn Vian told him he had killed Morgan and Jimmy Cook was the getaway driver.

GLENN VIAN

AXEMAN?
GLENN VIAN was the man the prosecution claimed had murdered Daniel Morgan. His defence team argued that Scotland Yard had failed to follow up 40 other possible suspects …
Photo: PA

Glenn called it the “Golden Wonder murder” because Daniel was holding two packets of crisps when he was slaughtered.

Ward said that in 2001 or 2002 he was in Garry Vian’s kitchen when a violent incident took place.

Also pesent were Glenn and Garry Vian and Jonathan Rees.

There was an argument about Rees’ ex-wife who was the sister of the Vians.

Ward claimed that during the row Glenn Vian picked up a knife and cut Jonathan Rees across the face.

Ward said that Garry Vian then said to Glenn:

“That’s fucked that — I was going to ask him for some more money off the Morgan thing.”

There was supporting evidence in the form of a bugged conversation between Glenn Vian and his brother Garry in October 2002 about shooting someone.

Background noises suggested they had a shotgun in their possession.

Judge Mitting said:

“I have heard the relevant portion of the recording and do not accept that an innocent construction can be placed upon it.”

“This was admissible evidence of a propensity on the part of both to use lethal violence.”

Garry Vian

In addition to the evidence about the shotgun, another witness claimed Garry Vian told him he was present during the murder.

A man called Terry Jones, who knew the Vians, said Garry Vian had told him Daniel Morgan had been murdered because he was looking into the drug-dealing operation  — and knew too much.

Sid Fillery

Only in the case of the retired Scotland Yard detective did Judge Mitting conclude there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to charge him.

SID FILLERY

WINNER … 
SID FILLERY (pictured) is one the major financial beneficiaries of the Daniel Morgan murder. When police realised the detective sergeant had contaminated the original inquiry in 1987, they should have prosecuted him. Even if a jury had declined to convict him, the force had considerable disciplinary powers to punish him. He could have been dismissed from the force and stripped of his fully-funded police pension. Instead, he was allowed to resign on medical grounds. Now he will be awarded with a substantial compensation package for the failed fifth investigation of the Daniel Morgan murder. He has not escaped scot free, however: he spent three months in prison on remand and his career as a private detective — as well as his personal reputation — was destroyed in 2002 when his computer was found to contain extreme images of the sexual abuse of children …
Photo: PA

Eaton was the only witness against him, and although DCS Cook did not prompt Eaton in relation to Fillery, Eaton was a tainted witness.

Mitting also examined the issue of personal malice on the part of DCS Cook — the third of the three elements the claimants had to prove .

Mitting said:

“I am satisfied that, even if Cook’s methods are open to criticism, his motive was not: it was to bring those he believed to have been complicit in the Morgan murder and in covering it up to justice.”

♦♦♦

JUDGE MITTING then moved to the claim that DCS Cook was guilty of “misfeasance in public office” in his dealings with Eaton.

He ruled that Rees and the Vians would have been charged even if Eaton had never come forward — so the misfeasance made no difference to the conduct of their case.

Only in the case of Fillery did he find “misfeasance in public office” had led to a prosecution, including a term of imprisonment on remand, which would not have happened without DCS Cook’s action.

He said:

“It follows that his claim for damages for misfeasance in public office succeeds in full.”

Filly will receive substantial damages.

♦♦♦

AFTER THE collapse of his criminal trial for murder in 2011, Jonathan Rees issued a statement.

“I want a judicial inquiry,” he said, “ideally a public inquiry.”

“When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business.”

“Whatever anyone may say on 10th March 1987 I lost a friend and business partner.”

In 2011 his lawyer told us:

“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.”

For this article, we emailed the solicitor acting for Jonathan Rees, Sidney Fillery and Glenn Vian.

There was no reply by the time this article was published.

The lawyer acting for Garry Vian said:

“I am afraid that I cannot discuss the case with you.”

♦♦♦

ONE OF the arguments put forward by the claimants in the High Court action was that scores of possible suspects were not investigated because of Scotland Yard’s obsession with Rees and his co-accused.

However, no credible alternative suspect has ever been named.

This is despite the fact that Jonathan Rees and Sidney Fillery were experienced detectives with extensive contacts in both the Metropolitan Police and Fleet Street.

There’s no evidence they ever mounted a serious campaign to catch the killer.

This is in stark contrast to Alastair Morgan, the dead man’s brother, whose dogged campaigning led to four police investigations following the contaminated first inquiry.

He also shamed the government into setting up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, which is due to report later this year.

♦♦♦

SO WHY was Daniel Morgan killed?

There have always been three main theories.

The first is the rivalry between the dead man and Jonathan Rees over Margaret Harrison — the woman who had an affair with Daniel Morgan before becoming Rees’ long-term partner.

The second is the friction between the two men over the Belmont Car Auction “robbery’.

Rees organised security for the company but, when he claimed he’d been mugged and £18,000 stolen, the firm didn’t believe him — and sued for recovery of the money.

For nearly two decades these two motives were favoured by murder detectives.

DANIEL MORGAN

DANIEL MORGAN
IN ALL probability no-one will ever be convicted of killing the 37-year-old father of two. Was he axed to death because he was planning to sell a story about a major drugs racket — also involving Scotland Yard detectives — to a national newspaper?
Photo: Morgan family

But there are problems with both.

Although Daniel Morgan had an affair with Margaret Harrison there’s no evidence he was seriously interested in her.

Witnesses never saw any public arguments between Jonathan Rees and Daniel Morgan over Harrison.

The problem with the Belmont Car Auction theory is the discrepancy between the amount at risk — the £18,000 “stolen” from Rees — and the cost of the killing, apparently somewhere between £20-£25,000.

Surely it would have been cheaper — and safer — to simply return the £18,000?

The mounting friction between Rees and Morgan could have been settled by dissolving their partnership.

There’s always been a third theory — that Daniel Morgan had stumbled on a story involving police corruption and was trying to sell it to national newspapers.

The initial murder investigation didn’t credit the story because Daniel Morgan claimed he was going to get £40,000 for it — a sum so large that the theory seemed absurd.

But during the fifth murder investigation, murder detectives began to change their minds.

The key witness was James Ward — the criminal drug dealer turned supergrass — who was in business with Garry Vian, one of the accused.

Ward was discredited as a witness in the criminal trial but there’s no doubt about the scale of the enterprise he was engaged in.

Ward was just one of the gang — yet investigators estimated he made a fortune of nearly £4 million.

If Ward is correct in his claim that Daniel Morgan had stumbled on the gang and was planning to expose it, then a powerful motive to get rid of him emerges.

A £20-25,000 murder contract would be small beer to an enterprise generating millions of pounds worth of profits.

A sentence for killing him wouldn’t be much higher than a 20-30 year sentence for being a member of a major UK drugs dealing operation.

And if corrupt police officers were also involved, there would be another powerful incentive to get rid of the troublesome private eye …

♦♦♦
Published: 3 April 2017
© Press Gang
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Notes
1
Until this year’s High Court action, Garry Vian’s first name has always been spelt as “Gary”.
2
The judgment in Rees v Commissioner can be read, in full, here.
3
This article is based on a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011. The site is no longer available.
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.
4
There are currently six 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
Private Eye — A Stab In The Back (in preparation)
See also the Daniel Morgan page.
5
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.
6
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.

♦♦♦

COMING
PRIVATE EYE — A STAB IN THE BACK 
Press Gang examines how Private Eye reported the events covered in The Business Of Murder. We have serious concerns that four articles published in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back” are so misleading they amount to rogue journalism  …

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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. 

PORRIDGE

February 11, 2017

corrupt_header_porridge3

BY THE late 1990s Scotland Yard had made no progress in catching the men who butchered private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987.

Then in 1998 anti-corruption detectives — worried that bent policemen were selling sensitive information to the detective agency Southern Investigations  — installed a bug in the firm’s offices.

Southern’s owners — murder suspect Jonathan Rees and retired police sergeant Sid Fillery — had no idea they were under surveillance.

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 arranged by Rees. But Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) kept that crucial information from the murder squad for four 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.
Photos: PA

Detectives listened as Rees hatched a conspiracy with serving Scotland Yard detectives to plant drugs on an innocent woman.

The plotters were caught red-handed and Rees was gaoled for 7 years.

But the bug picked up no clues about the murder.

Pressure from Daniel Morgan’s family finally forced the Met to open a new murder inquiry in 2002.

It started with a dramatic BBC Crimewatch reconstruction.

Instantly Rees — from prison — and Fillery started a campaign to subvert this new inquiry.

They targeted the family of the detective in charge — hacked his personal records and had him followed.

Scotland Yard hit back — they raided Southern Investigations and found extreme child pornography on Sid Fillery’s computer.

He was convicted and ordered to sign the Sex Offender’s Register.

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THIS ARTICLE is the third 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.
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With Rees in prison and Fillery disgraced, Southern Investigations finally came to an  end.

But the Morgan family’s battle to bring Daniel’s killers to justice ploughed on …

♦♦♦

IN 1999 detectives listening to the bug planted in the offices of Southern Investigations began to hear a plot unfold. 

A London businessman, Simon Jones, came to see if the agency could help him win a custody battle with his wife.

James asked Jonathan Rees to see if there was any evidence that his wife was involved in drugs.

It would help him get sole custody of the couple’s little boy.

Rees could find no evidence that his wife Kim was dealing in drugs.

In a bugged conversation, he hinted that he might be able to do something:

Rees  “I just wondered…  We can do things.”

James  “I’m not being funny. I’d rather you talk to me straight.”

Rees  “I just wondered if it might be worthwhile, going in and planting some gear. Now, having said that it’s done, it’s available, but it costs.”

James  “I’m not averse to doing anything.”

Rees  “What we are doing is fraught … Me and you could end up doing porridge as well, if we get caught out.”

SIMON_JAMES_200

SIMON JAMES
A POLICE surveillance photograph taken while the self-employed jeweller was plotting to gain custody of his son by planting drugs on the mother. Jonathan Rees was prepared to send an innocent woman to prison to satisfy his client …
Photo: Press Association.

 

James  “Yeah, I mean, you’re professionals. That’s why I have come here…”

Rees  “All right, I’ll have a chat to our people today.”

Three days later, James returned to the office with £7,500– some of which was used to buy cocaine.

As the plot to frame the innocent woman got underway, anti-corruption officers were watching every move.

They were about to catch the plotters red-handed.

A man called Jimmy Cook, who worked for Southern Investigations, broke into Kim James’ car and planted bags of cocaine.

Undercover officers were waiting and, as soon as Cook was out of the way, removed the cocaine and replaced it with packets of harmless powder.

Another contact, a corrupt detective constable called Austin Warnes, tipped off the police that Kim James was dealing in drugs.

She was raided and a suspicious package found in her car.

She was arrested.

The police pounced on the conspirators.

They arrested Rees, Simon James and Austin Warnes.

Austin Warnes was gaoled for five years for his part in the plot.

Rees got seven years — as did the businessman Simon James.

One of those acquitted in the case was Jimmy Cook, the Southern Investigations employee who would later be charged with being the getaway driver in the Daniel Morgan murder.

AUSTIN_WARNES_200

ANOTHER BENT COPPER
CORRUPT DETECTIVE Austin Warnes. He pretended he had intelligence that Simon James’ wife was dealing in drugs …
Photo: Press Association

♦♦♦

IN 2002 detective chief superintendent Dave Cook of Scotland Yard’s murder squad was approached by anti-corruption detectives.

They wanted him to do them a favour.

They had decided to try and break the stalemate in the Daniel Morgan murder investigation.

They wanted the BBC Crimewatch programme to highlight the murder with the Metropolitan Police offering a £50,000 reward for information.

Their problem was that they didn’t want Rees and Fillery to know that it was the anti-corruption team who were in charge.

Would Cook appear on the programme to give the impression that he was heading up the inquiry?

Cook was an ideal candidate because his wife, policewoman Jacqui Hames, acted as a presenter on the porgramme.

Cook agreed.

On 26 June 2002 he appeared on the programme to appeal for witnesses to the murder.

The next day, Cook was told by anti-corruption officers that Sid Fillery had been in touch with reporter Alex Marunchak at the News of the World asking him to “sort out” the detective.

(At the time, Rees was still in prison for the Simon James conspiracy, although he was still in touch with both Fillery and Marunchak).

Shortly afterwards Cook spotted a white van outside his house.

The next day there were two.

When Cook took his young son to nursery, the vans followed.

Cook later arranged for police to stop one of the vans on the grounds that a rear light was defective.

The driver turned out to be a photojournalist working for the News of the World.

Both vans were leased by the newspaper.

Cook’s wife, Jacqui Hames, told witness protection officers that she had been photographed outside the couple’s home.

The couple were later told that the Met’s media boss Dick Fedorcio contacted the News of the World.

Fedorcio was told that the paper had been tipped off that Cook was having an affair with the Crimewatch presenter.

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DAVE COOK
THE EXPERIENCED murder squad detective was disturbed when he and his wife were placed under surveillance by the News of the World as soon as he appeared on the BBC Crimewatch programme. Murder suspect Jonathan Rees had asked his friends on the paper to target the chief superintendant … 
Photo: Press Association. 

This was an incredible answer.

Cook and Hames were married, had two children and had been featured as a couple in Hello! magazine.

The surveillance ceased.

A few days later Cook was told by Surrey Police, where he worked from 1996 to 2001, that someone had rung asking for his address.

The caller said they were working for the Inland Revenue and wanted it to send Cook a tax refund.

Surrey Police refused to give it.

Later in 2002, anti-corruption officers raided the offices of Southern Investigations.

At this point, Jonathan Rees was still in prison.

On Sid Fillery’s computer officers found indecent images of young children.

In October 2003 Bow Street Magistrates gave him a three year community rehabilitation order.

District Judge Caroline Tibbs said she’d taken into account his guilty plea and what his defence claimed was his previous good behaviour.

The court was told nothing about his role in the Daniel Morgan murder case.

After the conviction, the detective agency collapsed.

Fillery went to live on the Norfolk Broads, running a pub called the Lion at Thurne.

It later became clear that Glen Mulcaire — the private eye gaoled in 2007 with News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking into royal mobiles — obtained Cook’s address, his internal Met payroll number and the amount he and his wife were paying on their mortgage.

Phone hacking claims

REBEKAH BROOKS
THE EDITOR of the News of the World when the paper mounted a surveillance operation against Dave Cook, Rebekah Brooks was untroubled that the paper was allowing itself to be used to pervert the course of justice …
Photo: PA 

Mulcaire also obtained the mobile number for Cook’s wife as well as the password she used.

Mulcaire was apparently acting on the instructions of Greg Miskiw, the News of the World assistant editor at the time.

On 9 January 2003 Rebekah Brooks was at Scotland Yard on a social visit when she was asked to have a word with Dave Cook “to clear the air”.

Present at the meeting was the Yard’s media boss Dick Fedorcio.

By that time, Cook was in charge of the latest Daniel Morgan murder investigation.

At first Brooks claimed to know nothing about the surveillance of Cook and his wife.

When Cook took her through the events, she insisted Marunchak was a fine reporter.

She promised to look into the matter.

We asked Dave Cook [in September 2011] to be interviewed for this article.

He declined.

The Met Commissioner at the time of Cook’s meeting with Brooks was Sir John Stevens.

He’s known to have dined regularly with Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

After he left the Met he was commissioned by Coulson to write a column for the News of the World — called “The Chief”.

♦♦♦

EVER SINCE the phone hacking scandal destroyed the reputation of the News of the World, Alastair Morgan has been thinking about the surveillance operation the paper mounted against detective superintendent Dave Cook and his then wife in 2002.

He believes it was an attempt to intimidate the detective.

Morgan believes that a similar operation was mounted against him and his family in May 1998.

The family were campaigning for a public inquiry into the events surrounding Daniel’s death.

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THE MORGAN FAMILY
HIS MOTHER Isobel, sister Jane and brother Alastair have been relentless in their campaign to bring Daniel’s killers to justice.
Photo: PA

“I was living in Glasgow,” Alastair Morgan explains, “and one night I noticed two men standing openly on the corner of the street where my flat was located.”

“The next day they were there again. I was sure they were watching me — they made absolutely no attempt to conceal themselves.”

“I rang my mother Isobel who lives in Wales and told her.”

“She then told me that she’d also had a strange encounter — she was just going into her house when a woman photographer walked up behind her and took a couple of photographs.”

“She didn’t say anything — just got into a car which drove off.”

“And when I told my sister Jane, who lives in Germany, she said that she’d seen a white van parked outside her home in the countryside.”

“A man was lying in a ditch with a telephoto lens pointed at her home.”

“All of these incidents were reported to the police — in Scotland, Wales and Germany. We were all worried.”

Alastair Morgan told us:

“I have written to James Murdoch at News International to ask him to tell us if it was the News of the World who were watching us. And, if they were, what exactly was the justification for the intrusion.”

He had not received a reply by the time this article went to press.

We asked News International for a response but the press office told us:

“NI declines to comment”.

♦♦♦

THE FINAL instalment of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — Getting Away With Murder — will cover the events that followed Jonathan Rees’ release from prison in 2004.

His criminal record was no barrier to his continued working for the News of the World.

But police were closing in.

In 2008 he — and four others — were arrested and charged with involvement in the murder.

By 2011 the prosecution decided to offer no evidence.

The evidence of three supergrasses — “assisting offenders” is the official term — was discredited.

And police failed to disclose some of the 750,ooo pages of documents to the defence.

But the judge, David Maddison, made it clear police “had ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the defendants.”

That has not stopped four of them bringing a civil action for malicious prosecution and malfeasance in public office.

This is on-going.

At the same time a review of the scandal headed by Baroness Nuala O’Loan is preparing its report.

Set up in 2013 by then Home Secretary Theresa May, its hearings were held in secret.

♦♦♦
Re-published: 11 February 2017
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

Notes
1.
This article is part of a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011.
Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments. 
Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said:
“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”
“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or others.” 
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
2.
There are four parts to The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency: Click on the title to read.
An Axe To Grind
Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers
Porridge
Getting Away With 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 Againats 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 bid to take overall control of Sky TV. The mogul scuttled an earlier attempt in 2012 because of the public outcry over the phone hacking scandal. The battle for Sky will be a key battleground in 21st century British media because of the decline in newspapers. If Murdoch gets Sky, he will move to smash the powerful broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, and convert Sky News into a British version of his US Fox News. This is part of a plan to replace the fading populist power of the Sun with a new right-wing  TV version. All the signs are Theresa May’s government will give Rupert Murdoch what he wants. But all is not lost — the Murdochs are vulnerable to a charge that, despite claims to have cleaned up their criminal stable since the closure of the News of the World in 2012, some areas of their empire remain as corrupt as ever …

♦♦♦

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THE FALL OF MAZHER MAHMOOD

October 5, 2016

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TODAY A jury found Mazher Mahmood guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The verdict was unanimous.

The 53-year-old Mahmood and his former driver Alan Smith, 66, were convicted of plotting to doctor a statement in the Tulisa Contostavlos drugs trial in 2014.

[The two men were sentenced on October 21.

Mahmood was gaoled for  15 months — Smith received a 12 months suspended sentence.]

The verdict destroys Mazher Mahmood’s reputation.

Mahmood did not dare to give evidence because of the substantial body of evidence the prosecution would have marshalled against him.

Some of this comes from Press Gang:

— Mahmood lied to the Leveson Inquiry about the number of criminal convictions he as responsible for.

He claimed more than 250 but Press Gang could only find 70.

Mazher Mahmood court case

FALSEHOOD
MAZHER MAHMOOD arrives at the Old Bailey still determined to preserve his anonymity. The jury were told that there were 11 emails between Mahmood and his driver Alan Smith. When police inspected their computers they found they’d all been deleted …
Photo: PA

Our investigation forced him to go back to Leveson and admit that Murdoch lawyers had come up with just 94.

— in 2012 Press Gang warned Murdoch’s ethics watchdog (the Management and Standards Committee) that Mahmood was a serial perjurer.

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SNAPPED
THE PICTURE taken by police after Mahmood was convicted  …

Over and over again, he’d gone into the dock and lied about his success in securing convictions.

These inflated claims made it more and more difficult for his victims to defend themselves.

Mazher Mahmood court case
ALAN SMITH
THERE WERE four phone calls between Smith and Mahmood at this time. Police wanted to examine Smith’s mobile phone but he told them it had been destroyed either after it was run over by a motor car or after a jacked-up vehicle had been dropped on it. He was given a suspended 12 months prison sentence.
Photo: PA

The Management and Standards Committee didn’t reply.

— Press Gang revealed that two years before the Tulisa exposé, Mahmood used an associate to prostitute herself to persuade a dentist to agree to carry out female genital mutilation.

This was for a front page exposé for the Sunday Times in 2012.

The case against the dentist collapsed when the journalist / prostitute refused to sign a statement.

(The story is told in Withering Heights.)

John Kelsey Fry QC at Lewes Crown Court
“FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED”
DEFENCE BARRISTER John Kelsey-Fry QC said the case against Mahmood was “fundamentally flawed and illogical and defies common sense.” His client “repeatedly insists he did not discuss Smith’s evidence with him and he repeatedly insists he could not discuss Smith’s evidence.”
Photo: PA

The most detailed account of how Tulisa turned the tables on Mahmood is the following Press Gang article published in August 2014.

It’s a shocking story …

 ♦♦♦

STING IN THE SINGER'S TALE

Originally published:
29 August 2014

♦♦♦

THE FULL story behind the dramatic collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos — and the unscrupulous role of Sun on Sunday reporter Mazher Mahmood — has not been told.

During the trial in July [2014] it became clear that one of Mahmood’s associates, a driver called Alan Smith, changed his witness statement after a discussion with the reporter.

Mahmood had claimed, at an earlier hearing, that he hadn’t spoken to him.

Press Gang can now reveal that Smith has a criminal record.

And it’s not the first time he’s played a devious role in one of the undercover reporter’s stories.

The judge in the Tulisa Contostavlos case concluded Mahmood deliberately lied to the court.

The case was dismissed.

Mahmood has now been suspended by The Sun and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the allegation that he committed perjury.

But the extraordinary sequence of events which led to the singer walking free has not been revealed — even though reporters were well aware of it.

The case also calls into question the willingness of Scotland Yard to base criminal cases on the work of a journalist with a long history of perjury allegations.

Long before Tulisa Contostavlos was charged, the editor of this website wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate Mahmood for perjury.

We pointed out that Mahmood had not only lied to the Leveson Inquiry about the number of convictions he’d secured but may also have lied about the issue in several of the criminal prosecutions he generated.

The Met did not reply.

This article tells the inside story of how one of Rupert Murdoch’s favourite reporters fell from grace …

Tulisa Contostavlos court case
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

♦♦♦

ON MAY 10 last year a gang practiced in the arts of entrapment prepared for another session with one of their victims.

The group had rented a suite at the 5 star Metropolitan Hotel just off Park Lane in the centre of London.

The target was the singer Tulisa Contostavlos.

She’d enjoyed a successful career with the hip hop band N’Dubz and had been a judge in the TV series The X Factor for two years running.

The man after her scalp was Mazher Mahmood.

In a controversial career spanning more than three decades, Mahmood had chalked up a reputation as one of the most dangerous adversaries in Fleet Street.

As the “Fake Sheik” he’d humiliated the rich and the powerful — including Prince Edward’s wife, the former Sophie Rhys-Jones, and the Duchess of Kent.

But he’d also seen famous celebrities and sportsmen gaoled after his elaborate stings.

This time it was to be a battle between the experienced Mahmood and a young woman from a broken family in North London.

The odds were stacked against the singer.

Tulisa Contostavlos was just 25.

At 50, Mahmood was twice her age.

She was the only child of musician parents who broke up when she was young.

She lived with her mother who had a long history of mental health problems.

Mazher-Mahmood
STRAIGHT STALKING
MAZHER MAHMOOD targeted the singer because she held out the promise of a “gold standard” sting — a huge story with criminal convictions at the end of it. Tulisa was young, beautiful and had taken her career in a successful hip hop band to a new level when she became an X Factor judge. But Mahmood also thought she was likely to be a cocaine user — one of the million or so British people who regularly use the drug with a heavy concentration in the entertainment business. By early 2013 she’d made it plain she wanted a career in Hollywood — and was therefore ripe for a classic Mahmood sting … In her autobiography Honest (2012) she revealed she’d self-harmed as a teenager.
Photo: BBC

She joined the hip hop band N’Dubz — named after the London district NW1 where she grew up — when she was 12.

The band had its first chart success in May 2007.

In November of that year — when she was 18 — she appeared in the Channel 4 programme Dubplate Drama.

She played a cocaine addict.

In 2011 and 2012 she was one of the judges on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor series.

In May 2012 her solo single “Young” went to No 1.

But a few months earlier her ex-boyfriend Justin Edwards posted online a sex video of the couple.

She took him to court and won damages against him.

By early 2013, she was disillusioned with the music business in Britain.

“I wanted to get out. I wanted to go into acting and piss off to America,” she said later.

She went to Los Angeles to audition for parts.

That’s where Mazher Mahmood and his gang targeted her.

He created a sting based on her public comment that she was a big fan of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio..

He pretended to be a Bollywood producer called Samir Khan and offered her a £3.5 million role in a movie starring alongside DiCaprio.

He flew her to Las Vegas in March 2013 and gave her and her entourage two suites at one of the city’s top hotels, the Venetian.

During her stay, she was given bodyguards and the best tables at nightclubs.

By the time the Las Vegas trip was over, she was convinced she was in line for a major movie that would transform her life.

“I was like a lost puppy,” she later recalled, “because I wanted it so badly to be true.”

♦♦♦

WHEN TULISA and her team arrived at the Metropolitan on May 10, Mahmood and his gang were ready.

The reporter and his entourage were armed with hidden cameras and microphones.

But the singer proved a tough nut to crack.

Throughout the long, six-hour session — and the constant flow of alcohol — she kept a cool head.

She clearly didn’t take drugs.

Tulisa Contostavlos court case
TABLES TURNED
ON THE journey home from a six-hour session where she was plied with drink by Mazher Mahmood’s gang, the singer made it clear she disapproved of drugs. It was a statement that was to save her from a criminal conviction — and dramatically turn the tables on her accuser. Mahmood is now being investigated for perjury … a far more serious offence than the one she was charged with.
Photo: PA

She was also discreet.

She was careful not to badmouth the famous people she knew — like Simon Cowell, the man behind X Factor.

Mahmood had brought up the subject of “celebrity prostitution”.

When it was suggested that she go to Mahmood’s bedroom, she refused.

She was going to land the part on the basis of her acting ability alone.

But Mahmood had a trick up his sleeve.

He didn’t believe in formal auditions, he said.

He preferred “social auditioning” and urged her to demonstrate that she could play the character of a young London druggie in order to get the part.

She played the part, pretending to be a member of a drug gang in her past.

Mahmood said he was coming back to London later that month and planning a night out for his friends at a strip club.

Could she help set up the evening?

Still in character, she said it would be no problem.

At the end of the evening, Mahmood’s driver took the singer and her team home.

The driver was a long-standing associate of Mahmood’s called Alan Smith.

During the journey Tulisa and her associates talked about the evening.

The singer said that a member of her family had a drug problem — and that she personally disapproved of them.

At this point she was revealing her real views on drugs …

♦♦♦

ON MAY 21 Tulisa spoke to Mazher Mahmood on the phone about the proposed evening at the night club.

He challenged her to prove her street credentials by giving him the name of a cocaine dealer.

She didn’t know any — but thought that her rapper friend Michael Coombs might pretend to be one.

He’d acted alongside her in the Channel 4 programme “Dubplate Drama” back in 2007 — Coombs had played the dealer to her character.

She thought he’d be able to string the producer along.

On May 22 Mahmood rang Coombs who agreed to supply cocaine.

At a meeting at the Dorchester in the early hours of the next day, Coombs sold the reporter just under half an ounce — 13.9 grams — of cocaine for £820.

Tulisa Contostavlos court case
MICHAEL COOMBS
The 36-year-old rapper friend of Tulisa C, known as Mike GLC, pleaded guilty to selling Mazher Mahmood 13.9 grams of cocaine for £820. The case against him was also dropped when the judge realised that Mahmood had lied under oath.
Photo: PA

 The exchange was filmed.

On June 2 [2013] the Sun on Sunday “World Exclusive” front page proclaimed “Tulisa’s Cocaine Deal Shame”.

She was arrested two days later.

By the time the trial began on July 14 this year, the omens were not good for the singer.

Mike Coombs pleaded guilty to supplying the drug — and was likely to face a prison sentence.

The singer pleaded not guilty to being involved in the supply of cocaine.

Her defence team had earlier failed to have the case struck out.

Her barrister said that the offer of a £3.5 million role in a film alongside DiCaprio was an “exceptional inducement”.

He also argued that the evidence Mahmood supplied was invalid because it broke the Police and Criminal Evidence Act — it was tainted by the amounts of alcohol the singer had consumed.

Judge Alistair McCreath rejected both applications.

He also refused to allow the defence to introduce details of other criminal cases involving Mahmood which had collapsed.

And he would not allow the defence to bring evidence of Mahmood’s bad character.

The defence team were still confident that they had a strong defence.

But Tulisa later said she was 100 per cent certain she was going to be convicted:

“I was preparing for prison.”

♦♦♦

BUT A miracle was about to happen.

When Mahmood handed over the sting material to the police, there was nothing from the driver Alan Smith.

The defence had a hunch that his vehicle had been bugged on the night he took her home from the Metropolitan.

A few weeks before the trial, the defence insisted police take a statement from him.

On June 23 a detective constable rang Smith and took notes of the conversation.

Smith told the detective that the subject of drugs came up and Tulisa had been very negative about them.

The detective prepared a statement and rang Smith to check it.

He made sure that the driver understood his obligations as a potential witness.

Smith said he was happy with the statement and would sign it.

The detective emailed the statement.

The next day, Smith rang the detective.

He said he was no longer sure it was the singer who had made the comment — it might have been another woman in the car.

The statement was changed and Smith signed it.

The next day, June 25, both statements were provided to the defence.

Here, they thought, was a ray of hope.

Smith’s initial statement gave credibility to the singer’s story that she was only playing a part when she was talking to Mahmood.

On June 27 — three days after Smith signed his changed statement — Mazher Mahmood was giving evidence under oath at a pre-trial hearing.

He was questioned by Tulisa’s barrister Jeremy Dein, QC about Alan Smith’s comment.

First, he was asked if the conversation between Alan Smith and the singer had been recorded.

“No”, answered Mahmood.

“But did you subsequently ask or find out, discuss with Mr Smith anything that was said in the car?

The answer was again “No”.

“Because I just want to see whether you were aware of this.”

“Mr Smith made a statement to the police saying that in the car Ms Contostavlos was talking about drugs and saying that a member of her family had a drug problem and she disapproved of drugs.”

“All I want to know from you is whether you discussed that with Mr Smith at any stage?”

The answer from Mahmood was clear and emphatic:

“No.”

Mahmood’s answers intrigued the defence team.

Lawyers from Hickman Rose, who represented the singer, began to make inquiries about Alan Smith.

They quickly discovered he’d been a long-term member of Mahmood’s team.

And he had a criminal record.

He’s also been involved in some of the reporter’s stories.

In May 1997, while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World, Mahmood published an exposé of  a centre in Hayes where the courts sent prisoners to do community service.

One of the people he exposed was an unemployed chauffeur called Alan Graham who was photographed sleeping in the back of a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.

The caption read “Snooze a Naughty Boy?”

What Mahmood did not tell News of the World readers was that Graham was actually one of his drivers, Alan Smith.

Mahmood calls him “Smithy” and describes him as a “bald-headed burly” and said he was a “wide boy”.

The Rolls Royce had been hired by the paper.

Smith had been sentenced to 100 hours community service by Uxbridge magistrates for fraud.

Mahmood later said that Smith had been included in the article under an alias to disguise the fact that he was the informant for the story …

♦♦♦

THE WEEK before the trial opened, the defence asked the Crown Prosecution Service to bring Alan Smith to the court as a potential witness.

On July 16, the third day of the trial, Smith was interviewed by defence solicitors in the presence of a Metropolitan Police detective.

This took place while Mahmood was on the stand, giving evidence for the prosecution.

_DSC9278
BEN ROSE
THE LAWYER headed the legal team representing Tulisa Contostavlos. Solicitors suspected there was something fishy about the evidence given by Mazher Mahmood’s driver.
Photo: Hickman Rose

Smith confirmed that the original version of his statement stated that the subject of drugs had come up.

The singer had been very negative about them.

But he’d become unhappy about the statement.

He told the defence he’d sent a copy of the initial statement to Mahmood and then spoke to him about what he should do.

He said that Mahmood told him that, if he was unhappy with his statement, he should ring the police and change it.

The defence team were stunned.

Mahmood had said, on oath on June 27, that he hadn’t discussed anything with Smith.

Now the driver was saying the exact opposite.

One of the two men was lying…

♦♦♦

THE NEXT day, Thursday, was the fourth day of the trial.

It was to be a day of high drama.

Mazher Mahmood was back in the witness-box to be cross-examined by defence QC Jeremy Dein.

Overnight, Mahmood had learned what Smith had told the defence — and realised he now faced a serious dilemma.

Once again, Dein asked him if he’d discussed with Smith what was said in the car.

Mahmood now changed his story.

He admitted he had talked to the driver two weeks earlier.

He said that Smith had rung him and said he wasn’t happy with his statement.

Mahmood told the court Smith had emailed the statement and the two men then had a conversation about it.

Mahmood told him that he should ring the police and change it if he was not sure Tulisa had made the remark.

Dein put it to Mahmood that he had lied when he gave evidence at the earlier hearing.

“I disagree with you,” was Mahmood’s answer.

The barrister put it to him that it was he, Mahmood, who had persuaded Smith to change his statement.

“I did not,” replied Mahmood.

Mahmood added that the change made no difference.

Smith, he said, was sensitive about drugs because his son had recently died of a drugs overdose.

After Mahmood left the box, Judge Alistair McCreath sent the jury out.

He then addressed both the prosecution and the defence.

He made it clear that he felt Mahmood had told a “knowing lie” when he gave evidence on June 27.

And that he did so, in his opinion, to conceal “improper conduct”: he had interfered with evidence that would have been to Tulisa’s advantage.

In circumstances where a key witness was guilty of “gross misconduct”, he added, it would be an abuse for the state to rely on him.

It would also compromise judicial integrity — “it would be on the court’s conscience,” he said.

He then adjourned the court.

Throughout these proceedings, the press gallery was packed.

Reporters cannot report what’s said when the jury is out but the judge’s comments would have made it clear that Mahmood’s earlier dramatic climb-down was not only sensational — it now threatened the entire case.

Yet not a word of what had happened was reported by that evening’s radio and television news.

The next morning, the press were also silent.

The Daily Mail, for example, led with the story that one of Tulisa’s aides told Mahmood that he believed Simon Cowell was gay.

The defence team were disappointed.

They’d hoped press reports of the sensational developments might generate other material helpful to their case.

♦♦♦

FRIDAY WAS the fifth day of the trial.

By now it was clear that the judge was proposing to reopen the abuse application he had turned down the previous month.

The prosecution, though, were unable to get advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about contesting it.

So the matter was left to the following Monday.

By then, the CPS had thrown in the towel and made no objection to the judge re-opening the defence application to stop the proceedings.

Judge McCreath not only halted the trial — he also dismissed the case against Michael Coombs, who had already pleaded guilty to supplying the cocaine.

He said that if he had thrown out the case earlier, Coombs would not have had to stand trial.

In his judgment, McCreath was scathing about Mahmood’s evidence about Alan Smith’s statements:

“When he gave evidence last week, he was asked questions on the same topic and gave answers which were entirely inconsistent with his earlier evidence.”

“And it certainly appears that the contact he had with Mr Smith was not unconnected with a fundamental change in the evidence which it was anticipated Mr Smith was going to give.”

“He was, as you will have understood, expected to be able to give evidence supportive of Ms Contostavlos — that she told him she disapproves of hard drugs.”

RUPERT MURDOCH - PICASA POSTERIZED
RUPERT MURDOCH
WHY DOES one of the world’s most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness-box?
Photo: PA

“But after his conversation with Mr Mahmood, he had changed his mind.”

“It should not be forgotten that Mr Mahmood is

– the sole progenitor of this case

– the sole investigator

– the sole prosecution witness

– a man who has exercised his journalistic privilege to create a situation where the identities of others involved in the investigation are unknown to the defence (or the prosecution or even to me)

– someone who appears to have gone to considerable lengths to get Ms Contostavlos to agree to involve herself in criminal conduct, certainly to far greater lengths that would have been regarded as appropriate had he been a police investigator.”

He concluded:

“there are strong grounds for believing that Mr Mahmood told me lies when he gave evidence to me on June 27”.

And he added:

“there are also strong grounds for believing that the underlying purpose of these lies was to conceal the fact that he had been manipulating the evidence in this case by getting Mr Smith to change his account.”

He ended by saying, ominously for Mahmood:

“My view of the evidence cannot bind any other court which may (or may not) be called on to consider this matter in a different context.”

The fall-out from the collapse of the case was instant.

The Sun suspended Mahmood until an “immediate internal investigation” was complete.

The paper issued a statement:

“We are very disappointed with this outcome, but do believe the original investigation was conducted within the bounds of the law and the industry’s code.”

But it added:

The Sun, of course, takes the judge’s remarks very seriously.”

A spokesman for The Sun told us this week Mahmood remains suspended and that “the internal investigation is ongoing.”

“I will not divulge further details of an internal investigation.”

He added that Alan Smith “worked on an ad-hoc basis with Mr Mahmood.”

The Met said:

” … the Metropolitan Police Service have been able to consider the judgment issued by the trial Judge along with other material supplied by the Prosecution Counsel …”.

“As a consequence of the information supplied officers from Specialist Crime and Operations are now investigating whether any of the matters highlighted amount to the commission of any criminal offences.”

The CPS said it “has no investigative powers and therefore any criminal investigations following the conclusion of this case are a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service.”

On September 30 lawyers for Tulisa Contostavlos will be in court for a hearing to determine if the Sun on Sunday should pay her legal costs.

They have still not decided if she will sue the newspaper.

♦♦♦

THE COLLAPSE of the trial raises many questions.

There’s no doubt the Metropolitan Police had no choice but to investigate when presented with clear evidence that Michael Coombs had sold drugs to Mahmood.

But the force was well aware that Mahmood, throughout his career, has come in for sustained criticism about his methods, some of it from judges.

They should have subjected his evidence to a forensic investigation of their own.

It should have been the force that interviewed Alan Smith and not have left it to the defence to force them to do it.

If Smith had not been interviewed, it’s possible Tulisa Contostavlos would now have a criminal record.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD
NEW SCOTLAND YARD
IN 2012 Press Gang editor Paddy French wrote and asked the force to investigate allegations that Mazher Mahmood may have committed perjury in many of the cases where he gave evidence. There was no reply.
Photo: Rebecca

The force can’t say it wasn’t warned about the possibility of Mahmood committing perjury.

In November 2012 the editor of this website, Paddy French, wrote to Sue Akers, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, asking her to investigate allegations that Mahmood was a serial perjurer.

The letter cited the claim he made to the Leveson Inquiry, under oath, that he had more than 250 criminal convictions to his credit while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World.

This was untrue.

Paddy French and researcher Chris Nichols had examined the News of the World throughout Mahmood’s career — and could find reports of only 70 convictions.

The full story is contained in the article Fake Convictions.

In the wake of this investigation, the Leveson Inquiry put the allegation to Mahmood.

What was then called News International called in the lawfirm Linklaters to carry out a proper audit.

In a subsequent statement to Leveson, Mahmood admitted that Linklaters could only find 94.

The letter also drew attention to the case against the London’s Burning actor John Alford who was gaoled in 1999 for supplying cocaine to Mahmood.

“In the September 2000 judgment refusing the actor known as John Alford leave to appeal against a nine month sentence for supplying cocaine to Mazher Mahmood’s undercover team in 1999, the court noted that Mahmood claimed 89 SCPs [successful criminal prosecutions]”.

At that point, Press Gang had found only 28.

The letter concluded by asking the Met “to examine Mr Mahmood’s testimony in all the court cases he gave evidence in to see if he has potentially committed perjury …”

A press officer told us Akers had retired and “the letter has been forwarded to deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh for consideration.”

“You will be contacted in due course.”

Kavanagh never replied.

♦♦♦
Published: 4 October 2016
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

NOTES
1
This the sixth article in the Press Gang series “The Life & Times Of A Serial Perjurer”. The previous articles and their links are:

Fake Convictions 
http://wp.me/p3kXx7-3
The Sting In The Singer’s Tale
http://wp.me/p3kXx7-12
Lying to Leveson
http://wp.me/p3kXx7-5O
Withering Heights 
No 10 Silent On “Fake Sheik” Intervention
2
The relevant statements about Mazher Mahmood’s claims about the convictions he secured to the Leveson Inquiry were made by Rebecca Television:
FIRST STATEMENT
http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Witness-statement-of-Paddy-French-including-exhibits.pdf
SECOND STATEMENT
http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Second-witness-statement-of-Paddy-French2.pdf
FIRST WITNESS STATEMENT – MAZHER MAHMOOD
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140122145147/http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Witness-Statement-of-Mazher-Mahmood.pdf
FOURTH WITNESS STATEMENT – MAZHER MAHMOOD
http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Fourth-ws-of-Mazher-Mahmood.pdf

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THE PEOPLE v. MURDOCH

January 12, 2016

Murdoch_series_head_1

AT THE beginning of 2016 Rupert Murdoch once again dominates British media.

David Cameron is back on side.

Juries have refused to convict Sun journalists of bribing corrupt police officers.

The threat of a tough new media regulator has all but vanished.

In September Murdoch felt strong enough to rehabilitate his beloved Rebekah Brooks.

In December the most dangerous threat — the possibility of corporate charges — was lifted.

Today, the billionaire is more powerful than ever.

But all is not lost.

There are millions of people on three continents who oppose him.

Today Press Gang launches a new campaign — The People versus Murdoch.

We’ve found an important chink in the media mogul’s armour …

♦♦♦

THIS MORNING Press Gang sent a four page letter to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

We asked chief executive Sharon White to launch an inquiry into whether Rupert Murdoch and his family are “fit and proper” people to be involved in the satellite television company BSkyB.

Ofcom has this duty under the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996.

The watchdog looked at the issue back in September 2012 when the phone hacking scandal was at its height.

(Its report can be read here.)

Ofcom criticised Murdoch’s son James, who was in charge of the News of the World, for his handling of the crisis.

It found his actions:

” … fell short of the exercise of responsibility to be expected of the chief executive officer …”

But there wasn’t enough evidence to declare him unfit.

PRIME CONCERNS FOUR DAYS before Christmas the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members attended a private party at the London home of Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, Cameron told Parliament: "The truth is, we have all been in this together. The press, the politicians and the leaders of all parties — and, yes, that includes me ... Throughout all this, all the warnings, all the concern, the government at the time did nothing." The party — reported only by the Guardian — shows Cameron and Murdoch are now comfortably back in harness, "in this together"... Photo: PA

PRIME CONCERNS
FOUR DAYS before Christmas the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members attended a private party at the London home of Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, Cameron told Parliament: “The truth is, we have all been in this together. The press, the politicians and the leaders of all parties — and, yes, that includes me … Throughout all this, all the warnings, all the concern, the government at the time did nothing.” The party — reported only by the Guardian — shows Cameron and Murdoch are now comfortably back in harness, “in this together”…
Photo: PA

Of Rupert Murdoch it said there was no evidence he’d behaved inappropriately.

But Ofcom also made it clear that it was working “on the evidence available to date”.

It added:

“As Ofcom’s duty to be satisfied that licensees remain fit and proper is ongoing, should further material evidence become available, Ofcom would need to consider that evidence in light of its duty.”

Since that statement an enormous amount of new material has come into the public domain.

Ofcom has confirmed it has not considered this evidence.

Press Gang has now asked it to do so …

♦♦♦

FOUR MONTHS after Ofcom published its findings, Lord Justice Leveson produced his report.

He was much more critical of the Murdoch family than Ofcom.

On the response of senior management to the phone hacking scandal, he noted:

” … the evidence … points to a serious failure of governance within the NoTW [News of the World], NI [News International] and News Corporation.”

The key point here is that Lord Leveson’s criticisms extended all the way to the top of the empire.

Leveson said:

“If News Corporation management, and in particular Rupert Murdoch, were aware of the allegations, it is obvious that action should have been taken to investigate them.”

“If News Corporation were not aware of the allegations which, as Rupert Murdoch has said, have cost the corporation many hundreds of millions of pounds, then there would appear to have been a significant failure in corporate governance …”

A SERIOUS FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE LORD JUSTICE LEVESON took a long, hard look at the Murdoch empire — and wasn't impressed by what he saw. But his report is just half of the exercise — when David Cameron announced the inquiry back in July 2011 he said it would take place in two parts. The second part, to be held after all the criminal trials are over, "will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen." Although almost all cases have now been heard, Cameron is using the fact that a few are still in the pipeline to delay making an announcement. Rupert Murdoch is desperate to make sure it does not happen ... Photo: PA

A SERIOUS FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE
LORD JUSTICE LEVESON took a long, hard look at the Murdoch empire — and didn’t like what he saw. But his report is just half of the exercise — when David Cameron announced the inquiry back in July 2011 he said it would take place in two parts. The second part, to be held after all the criminal trials are over, “will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen.” Although almost all cases have now been heard, Cameron is using the fact that a few are still in the pipeline to delay making an announcement. Rupert Murdoch is desperate to make sure it does not happen …
Photo: PA

Leveson examined one of the key issues of the phone hacking saga.

This was the meeting in June 2008 where James Murdoch met with News International’s legal manager Tom Crone to discuss legal action taken by hacking victim Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

Taylor’s lawyers had obtained a devastating document — the celebrated “for Neville” email — which contained transcripts of 35 voicemail messages.

Tom Crone took this email to the meeting — and told James Murdoch it shattered the company’s public insistence that phone hacking was restricted to just one “rogue reporter”.

James Murdoch denied Crone told him this.

Murdoch agreed to settle the case for the colossal sum of £425,000 providing Taylor agreed to keep it confidential.

When Ofcom examined this issue, it concluded Crone’s evidence was not:

” … sufficient to demonstrate that James Murdoch was made fully aware of the implications of the evidence disclosed in the Taylor litigation at the time he authorised the payment.”

Lord Justice Leveson took a different view.

On the conflict between James Murdoch and Tom Crone he said:

“I … conclude that Mr Crone’s version of events as to what occurred on 10 June 2008 should be preferred to that of James Murdoch.”

This is just one dramatic part of the Leveson Inquiry that Ofcom should consider.

♦♦♦

WHEN OFCOM examined the fitness of Rupert Murdoch and his family back in 2012, its emphasis was on the phone hacking saga at the News of the World.

It wasn’t able to examine the corruption scandal which erupted in 2011 when News International handed over emails implicating scores of Sun journalists.

The result was Operation Elveden — the Metropolitan Police investigation into the bribing of public officials.

Many Sun journalists had been arrested but the sub judice rules prevented Ofcom from considering the issue in 2012.

In the years that followed, Elveden saw many public employees — including police officers and prison warders — convicted.

Almost all of the Sun journalists were cleared by juries.

SCARLET WOMAN AFTER FOUR years in the wilderness, Rebekah Brooks is back in charge of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers. Back in 2011 — a week after it was revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler — Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was. "This one", he said, pointing to Brooks. She was later arrested and charged but was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey in 2014. During the trial, it was revealed that during her marriage to the actor Ross Kemp, she'd had a secret affair with Andy Coulson ... Photo: PA

SCARLET WOMAN
AFTER FOUR years in the wilderness, Rebekah Brooks is back in charge of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers. Back in 2011 — a week after it was revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler — Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was. “This one”, he said, pointing to Brooks. She was later arrested and charged but was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey in 2014. During the trial, it was revealed that during her marriage to the actor Ross Kemp, she’d had a secret affair with Andy Coulson …
Photo: PA

Operation Elveden points to the Murdoch family tolerating a culture of paying corrupt public officials at both the News of the World and the Sun.

This culture was long-standing.

The practice was extensive — four public employees alone were paid a total of £146,000.

In 2004, press reports show the Sun paid sources £362,000 — an unspecified but clearly significant amount going to corrupt public employees.

Rebekah Brooks, Sun editor from 2003 to 2009, admitted at a Culture Media and Sport select committee hearing in 2003 that she had paid police officers for information.

Sitting at her side, News of the World editor Andy Coulson broke in to say they only did so “within the law”.

Chris Bryant MP told them paying police was unlawful.

Despite this clear warning, the Sun went on paying corrupt police officers for another eight years.

One of these was Surrey police detective Simon Quinn.

He’d been on the paper’s books since 2000 — and had supplied confidential information about the Milly Dowler case in 2002.

Quinn was later gaoled for 18 months after admitting taking £7,000 from the paper over a ten year period.

Press Gang has asked Ofcom to examine the implications of this scandal.

♦♦♦

IN ITS 2012 report, Ofcom considered Rupert Murdoch’s role in the “dark arts” saga.

“We do not consider that the evidence currently available to Ofcom provides a reasonable basis on which to conclude that Rupert Murdoch acted in a way that was inappropriate in relation to phone hacking, concealment or corruption by employees of … News International.”

Again, new evidence has since emerged which undermines that conclusion.

Two days after the hacking scandal erupted, in July 2011, Rupert Murdoch made a statement:

“Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable.”

This was his public, penitent face.

DEPLORABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE THOSE WERE the words Rupert Murdoch used when the news hacking scandal broke in 2011. But the media mogul has a habit of saying one thing in public — and another in private. In 2013 he was recorded telling a private meeting of Sun journalists that, well, after all, paying cops was part of the general culture of Fleet Street ... Photo: PA

DEPLORABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE
THOSE WERE the words Rupert Murdoch used when the news hacking scandal broke in 2011. But the media mogul has a habit of saying one thing in public — and another in private. In 2013 he was recorded telling a private meeting of Sun journalists that, well, after all, paying police was just part of the general culture of Fleet Street …
Photo: PA

But he also knew News Corporation — worried about corporate charges that might destroy the business — had just handed over a huge cache of emails incriminating Sun journalists.

There was no mention of this in his statement.

In March 2013 he agreed to meet Sun journalists.

Morale at the paper was at rock bottom: many journalists felt colleagues had been thrown to the wolves.

The meeting was recorded by one of the reporters.

In a discussion about the possibility of Sun journalists being charged for paying public officials, Murdoch said:

” … I don’t know of anybody, or anything, that did anything that wasn’t being done across Fleet Street and wasn’t the culture.”

Another journalist said:

“You referred to, you used the phrase, things were done at the Sun for over 40 years. I personally have been here for less than ten. But I’m pretty confident that the working practices I’ve seen here were ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated.”

He asked:

“Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”

Murdoch’s reply couldn’t have been clearer:

“We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years.”

“You didn’t instigate it.”

Rupert Murdoch not only knew police officers were being paid by his journalists.

He approved of it.

♦♦♦

IF OFCOM launches an inquiry, it will be a major blow to Rupert Murdoch’s plans.

Any investigation will take months, if not years.

It will be impossible for Murdoch to launch a bid to buy the remaining 61 per cent of Sky he does not own while it’s taking place.

How can David Cameron’s government agree to his complete takeover if Ofcom is considering whether Murdoch is a “fit and proper” person to be involved in the broadcaster at all?

Press Gang has promised to submit a full statement to Ofcom.

This will include all of the material which has emerged since Ofcom’s report in 2012.

It will also seek to widen the scope of any Ofcom investigation to the Sunday Times where there have also been allegations of illegal news-gathering.

It will also include new criticisms of Murdoch’s own internal watchdog — the Management and Standards Committee (MSC).

In 2012 Press Gang warned the committee that serious problems still existed in the company.

The MSC ignored the warning.

♦♦♦

If you want to support The People v Murdoch campaign, click on the donate button below to make a contribution to Press Gang.

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♦♦♦

NEXT The People v Murdoch examines the possibility of a private prosecution against Rupert Murdoch.

♦♦♦

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.

NUMBER 10 SILENT ON “FAKE SHEIK” INTERVENTION

December 22, 2014
SERIAL PART 5
 THE GOVERNMENT has declined to answer questions about a legal bid to stop the BBC Panorama exposé of Sun reporter Mazher Mahmood.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright tried to persuade the Corporation not to broadcast the investigation.

Wright is a political appointee and attends Cabinet.

No. 10 said it didn’t “comment on legal advice provided by law officers.” 

The BBC ignored the pressure and transmitted the “Fake Sheik: Exposed” programme on November 12.

Another public body, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is refusing to answer an allegation that it gave out false information about the case.

Sources claim CPS officials said at the end of October that a charging decision on Mahmood was due within two weeks.

Today, two months later, no decision has been announced … 

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police have been treating Mahmood himself with kid gloves. 

Press Gang has learnt detectives from Operation Silverhawk — the investigation into Mahmood’s false testimony in the Tulisa Contostavlos trial last July — decided not to arrest him.

Instead, officers arranged an appointment with him and his lawyer.

He was interviewed under caution. 

No warrant was sought to search his home in West London.

Mahmood’s “kid glove” treatment is in stark contrast to the “iron fist” used for Contostavlos.

She was arrested just two days after he published an article accusing her of conspiracy to supply drugs.

Her arrest — based solely on Mahmood’s evidence — took place by appointment at a police station.

Police also obtained a warrant and searched her home.

♦♦♦

THE FULL story behind the twice-delayed Panorama programme “Fake Sheik: Exposed” has not been told. 

By the time the piece was finally shown, on Wednesday, November 12, the BBC had beaten off a determined bid to have it stopped or at least watered down.

MAZHER MAHMOOD Lawyers acting for the "fake sheik" tried to persuade the court not to allow the BBC to show this recent picture of Mahmood. The judge rejected the argument that it would put him and his family at risk of potential violence from victims he'd exposed in the past. In fact, no-one bent on harming Mahmood would have any difficulty tracking him down — it took Press Gang fifteen minutes to do so. He and his wife Sadaf own two flats in a 1930s mansion block in the Kensington area of London: he lives in one while she occupies the other along with their young son. Photo: BBC

MAZHER MAHMOOD
LAWYERS ACTING for the “fake sheik” tried to persuade the court to ban the BBC from showing this recent picture of Mahmood. The judge rejected the argument that it would put him and his family at risk of potential violence from victims he’d exposed in the past. In fact, anyone seriously bent on harming Mahmood would have little difficulty tracking him down — it took Press Gang fifteen minutes to do so. He and his wife Sadaf own two flats in a 1930s mansion block in the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea: he lives in one while she occupies the other with their young son.
Photo: BBC

The campaign started on October 31, Halloween.

The BBC had just written to Mahmood telling him the thrust of the Panorama investigation and inviting him to respond.

Lawyers from Kingsley Napley, acting for Mahmood, quickly swung into action.

Their strategy was to attack on the programme on several fronts.

The first was an approach to the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, a barrister and Tory MP who attends Cabinet.

Their argument was that because Mahmood was under investigation and might be charged the programme not in the public interest. 

That approach led to the Attorney General writing to the BBC warning that the programme: 

“may have the potential to prejudice any trial, should Mr Mahmood be charged.”

In a later email Wright added:

” … IF the Contempt of Court Act does come into play — by Mr Mahmood being arrested or charged — the position would be different.”

JEREMY WRIGHT QC, MP THE COALITION'S senior law official tried to per Photo: Attorney General's Office

JEREMY WRIGHT QC, MP
THE COALITION’S senior law official tried to persuade Panorama not to show the exposé of the “fake sheilk”. Last week his press office denied that Wright had discussed the issue with David Cameron: “He did not consult the Prime Minister.” 
Photo: Attorney General’s Office

Some observers believe this was a coded reference to signals coming from another government department — the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

At the end of October CPS officials were informally telling journalists a decision on whether or not to charge Mahmood was likely to be made within a couple of weeks.

This was obviously untrue — today, nearly two months later, Operation Silverhawk is still active and no charges have been brought.

The CPS press office would not answer questions:

“we are a very small team, and have simply not had the time to deal with your query properly yet“.

Some BBC staff felt the combination of the false CPS briefing and the warnings from the Attorney General were part of a concerted attempt by pro-Murdoch forces to “spook” Director General Tony Hall and chairwoman Rona Fairchild into axing the programme.

Last week the Attorney General’s office told Press Gang:

“In matters of contempt, the Attorney General acts in his role as guardian of the public interest, independent of government.”

“He did not consult the Prime Minister.”

A spokeswoman for No. 10 told us:

“We don’t comment on legal advice provided by law officers.”

♦♦♦

WHILE THE government’s legal wing was trying to prevent the programme altogether, Mahmood’s lawyers were in court trying to water it down.

They applied for an injunction preventing the BBC from showing up-to-date footage of the “fake sheik”.

The hearing, before Sir David Eady, took place at an all-day session at the Royal Courts of Justice on Halloween, October 31.

Mahmood was represented by a barrister instructed by Kingsley Napley.

Press Gang asked News UK if it was paying Mahmood’s legal bills.

The company didn’t answer the question. 

SILVERHAWK CONTINUES LAST WEEK the Met told Press Gang that a file on the Mahmood case has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file presents the evidence against Mahmood and asks  advice about whether the reporter can be charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in the Tulisa Contostavlos case.  Photo: Rebecca Television

SILVERHAWK CONTINUES …
LAST WEEK the Met told Press Gang that a file on the Mahmood case has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file presents the evidence against Mahmood and asks advice about whether the reporter can be charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The Met also confirmed that the investigation is on-going …
Photo: Rebecca Television

In court, Mahmood’s team argued the programme should not show new images of him because he and his family would be at risk.

During the presentation, they revealed that police had interviewed Mahmood and pointed out that the programme might prejudice any trial.

They also claimed Panorama’s investigation was flawed because it relied on the testimony of former members of Mahmood’s “sting gang” who were motivated by revenge.

The injunction was not granted.

But Mahmood’s team were given leave to appeal and the hearing was listed for Monday, November 3.

That was the day the programme was scheduled to go out.

The BBC decided to postpone it.

On Monday, November 3 the appeal was refused.

The postponed programme was then re-scheduled for the following Monday, November 10.

But hours before this transmission lawyers acting for Mahmood submitted a tape which, they claimed, undermined the credibility of one of Panorama’s key witnesses.

The BBC decided to hold back the programme to assess the new material.

By Wednesday, November 12 they’d done so — and decided the programme would go ahead.

Normally, it would have gone out in the next available Panorama slot — Monday, November 17.

Now, however the Corporation faced a dilemma.

If the Crown Prosecution Service rumours were correct — and a decision on charging Mahmood was imminent — then he might be charged before the Monday.

A decision was taken to amend that day’s schedules.

The programme finally aired at 7.30 that night, November 12.

There were two reasons why the BBC was determined to show the Panorama investigation into Mahmood.

The first was that it was determined to demonstrate  its investigative credibility.

RUPERT MURDOCH WHY DOES one of the world's most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness box?     Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
WHY DOES one of the world’s most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness-box?
Photo: PA

This had been damaged by the Newsnight child abuse scandals.

The Corporation was severely criticised for censoring a Newsnight item in 2011 alleging that Jimmy Savile was a child abuser.

Newsnight then falsely accused Lord McAlpine of child abuse in November 2012.

The second was that the Corporation’s new Director of News & Current Affairs, James Harding, is a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper.

Harding had endured a fractious relationship with the tycoon in his last few years as editor and was determined to demonstrate his independence.

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THE ROLE of the Metropolitan Police has raised questions about its impartiality. 

Critics say the force has bent over backwards to try to shield the “fake sheik”.

The decision by Operation Silverhawk not to arrest him is a key criticism.

Another is the length of time it’s taken detectives to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on charging.

The case against Mahmood is a relatively simple affair.

There is no denying Mahmood lied when he gave evidence at the trial.

The only issues are:

— did the lie amount to perjury ?

— and was it designed to pervert the course of justice?

Normally, a police investigation would have been completed within a matter of weeks.

The second charge against the Met is that it has decided not to widen the investigation to other cases where Mahmood was the principal witness.

As early as November 2012 — long before the Tulisa Contostavlos case — Press Gang asked the Met to investigate Mahmood for “serial perjury”.

In a letter to then Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, we pointed out that Mahmood had lied under oath at the Leveson Inquiry about the number of criminal convictions he had to his name.

He claimed more than 250 — our investigation found only 70.

Our investigation prompted lawyers acting for Rupert Murdoch to carry out their own investigation.

Their report — which has never been released — found just 94.

The Press Gang letter to Akers pointed out that, in the course of our investigation, we found indications that Mahmood might also have lied on oath about his convictions in some of the criminal cases he gave evidence in.

The letter detailed one case — the gaoling of the TV actor John Alford for nine months in 1999 after a Mahmood sting.

That sting was remarkably similar to the operation mounted against Tulisa Contostavlos. 

At Alford’s unsuccessful appeal, the court noted Mahmood’s claim that he had 89 successful criminal prosecutions to his name.

That statement — which added credibility to Mahmood’s evidence — cannot be true.

By 1999, our analysis of Mahmood’s convictions showed only 28. 

Our letter asked the Met “to examine Mr Mahmood’s testimony in all the court cases he gave evidence in to see if he has potentially committed perjury …”  

JOHN ALFORD THE ACTOR'S acting carreer was destroyed after he was gaoled in 1999 for drugs offences following a "fake sheik" sting. Press Gang told the Met more than two years ago that there was evidence Mahmood also lied in this trial ... Photo: PA

JOHN ALFORD
THE ACTOR’S acting career was destroyed after he was gaoled in 1999 for drugs offences following a “fake sheik” sting. Press Gang told the Met more than two years ago that there was evidence Mahmood lied in Alford’s trial …
Photo: PA

The Met acknowledged the letter and promised a reply from a senior officer.

It never came.

Last week we raised this issue with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the police watchdog.

We asked them to explore the reasons behind the Met’s failure to answer the letter we sent to Sue Akers.

And we requested an examination of the failure to investigate the allegation of perjury in the Alford  case.

An IPCC spokesman said the complaint was being considered.

♦♦♦

ONE REASON why Rupert Murdoch’s News UK may have fought so hard to stop the Panorama programme is the fear of civil actions.

In the phone hacking scandal, much of the damage done to the News of the World came from revelations generated by individuals suing the newspaper.

There are signs that this is beginning to happen in the Mahmood scandal.

The CPS has now written to 25 of Mahmood’s victims warning them that they may have grounds to challenge their criminal convictions.

One of these is John Alford.

His solicitor Siobhain Egan has also been contacted by three other individuals with convictions as a result of Mahmood’s stings.

Another 18 people affected by Mahmood’s undercover operations have contacted the lawyer Mark Lewis.

Lewis played a key role in the civil litigation that helped unravel the industrial scale of phone-hacking at the Murdoch tabloids.

The Press Gang investigation into Mazher Mahmood continues … 

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Published: 22 December 2014
© Press Gang (part of Re
becca Television)
♦♦♦

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COMING UP IN THE NEW YEAR
“A PRETTY DESPICABLE MAN”
PART TWO: ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was editor. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

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