Posts Tagged ‘News of the World’

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:

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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
♦♦♦

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.

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PRIVATE EYE: SHAMELESS

March 11, 2017

 

Private_Eye_head_a

FOR DECADES Private Eye has hammered Britain’s national press in its celebrated Street of Shame column.

The magazine has pilloried the hypocrisy that often passes for news in papers owned by Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere.

But now Parliament plans to curb the power of media billionaires, the Eye is supporting them.

Editor Ian Hislop has joined the chorus of protest at the proposed introduction of a key component of the bid to make newspapers more accountable.

Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 makes publishers potentially liable for all costs in libel actions if they are not members of a regulator approved by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP).

The Panel was established by Royal Charter in 2013 following the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.

The Royal Charter can only be amended by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament — and with the unanimous approval of the members of the Panel itself.

The Panel is not a regulator — its board only has the power recognise independent regulators who meet the conditions laid out in the Royal Charter.

This mechanism insulates regulators from the influence of politicians.

private-eye-logo

In October 2016 the Panel recognised the regulator Impress which is funded by charities controlled by the businessman Max Mosley.

Mosley plays no part in the running of the organisation.

The decision to recognise Impress makes it possible to introduce Section 40 and the government are now consulting on whether it should to do so.

Press Gang and its sister website Rebecca are both in the process of joining Impress.

No national publisher has signed up to Impress.

Instead, the Murdoch papers (Times, Sun and Sunday Times), the Daily MailTelegraphMirror and Express have created the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

This is a reworking of the old Press Complaints Commissions — heavily discredited in the hacking scandal.

IPSO has not applied to the Press Recognition Panel to become a recognised regulator.

A series of newspapers — the Financial TimesGuardianObserverIndependentEvening Standard — have decided not to join either IPSO or Impress.

They have their own in-house arrangements for  complaints.

Private Eye, which has traditionally refused to join any regulator, openly admits it has no code of conduct or written editorial guidelines.

It handles complaints internally and informally.

♦♦♦

IN THE week when IMPRESS was recognised Private Eye was celebrating a major victory.

Retired North Wales police superintendent Gordon Anglesea was gaoled in October 2016 on historic child abuse charges.

In the early 1990s the Eye, HTV, the Observer and the Independent on Sunday claimed Anglesea was a child abuser..

In 1994 Anglesea won a libel action and the four media companies paid him £375,000 in damages — and had to pay his legal costs as well as their own.

When Anglesea was gaoled, the Eye [28 October 2016) claimed Section 40 would make it “easier for any future Anglesea to sue publications like Private Eye with impunity.”

gordon-anglesea-custody-picture-confirmed-by-alan-norbury-8-9-16

GORDON ANGLESEA
IT IS deeply ironic Private Eye should use the case of Gordon Anglesea to bolster its case against Section 40. In fact, having had its fingers burnt in the libel action in 1994, the Eye largely turned its back on the North Wales child abuse scandal. It was left to Rebecca, the sister website of Press Gang, to carry the torch of investigative journalism into this dark corner of British history. In 2010 Rebecca began publishing the results of a decade’s research, exposing the failure of the £14 million North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal to find out what really happened. For more on this campaign, see here
Photo: National Crime Agency

This is, according to the Eye, because Section 4o states that if a publisher who is not a member of a recognised regulator “the court must award costs against the defendant.”

“In plain English,” the Eye continues, “even if we won the case, we would still have to pay all the bills.”

This is nonsense — and Eye editor Ian Hislop knows it.

Section 40 does indeed say “the court must award costs against the defendant” but it also immediately goes on to say:

“unless … it is just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case to award costs against the defendant.”

In other words, it depends on the circumstances and it is the judge who has the final say.

In a case where a newspaper or magazine wins a libel action against an alleged child abuser, it is inconceivable it would be forced to pay the paedophile’s legal bill.

The Eye’s biased portrayal of the act is the type of propaganda its “Street of Shame” column lampoons when it appears in the Daily MailTelegraph and the Sun ...

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PRIVATE EYE also subscribes to the view that Section 40 would stifle investigative journalism.

It has relaunched the £5,000 Paul Foot Award and describes it in these terms:

“In honour of Section 40 … Private Eye is once again awarding a prize for investigative or campaigning journalism in the memory of Paul Foot.”

In other words, the relaunching of the Paul Foot Award is also an attack on Section 40.

But Section 40 is not a threat to investigative journalism.

The part of Section 40 which the Eye misrepresented also has a similar clause protecting investigative journalists working for a recognised regulator.

PAUL FOOT AWARDA recognised regulator has to have a cheap and efficient arbitration service to try to settle complaints.

If a complainant could use the regulator’s arbitration service but chooses to go to court instead, then — even if he or she wins the case — the  judge has the power to make them pay their own costs.

This is why Press Gang is joining Impress.

For more than 30 years editor Paddy French has been an investigative reporter.

He founded Rebecca as a magazine in 1973 and its Corruption Supplement saw many of the councillors and businessmen it exposed go to prison.

Several Rebecca investigations were picked up by the Sunday Times when Harry Evans was editor, before Rupert Murdoch bought the title.

French also worked as an independent TV producer making investigative programmes for ITV and BBC.

In 1994 he produced, with the late Ray Fitzwalter, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Privateers on Parade about the de-nationalisation of Britain’s utilities.

Independent broadcasting has always been subject to regulation by a body created by but independent of Parliament.

“Throughout my career in television,” says French, “I was subject to regulation, first by the Independent Broadcasting Authority and then, after 2002, by Ofcom.”

“These were demanding regulators policed by in-house legal teams.”

“Far from stifling investigations, the effect was to produce bullet-proof programmes — maintaining high standards is one of the reasons I have never been successfully sued.”

“What is being proposed for newspapers is similar to the regime for broadcasters.”

“Press regulation will liberate investigative journalism and curb the arbitrary of billionaire proprietors.”

“It’s very sad that Private Eye — an absolutely essential critic of the mainstream press — should now be getting into bed with the worst of them.”

♦♦♦

FOR SOME months the anti-Section 40 propaganda machine has dominated the national debate.

But this is beginning to change.

The powerful cross-party House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee recently responded to the government’s consultation on Section 40.

It criticised the media campaign against it:

“some of the arguments put forward were, in our view, unconvincing and misleading …”

Attacking the Devil premiere - London

SIR HARRY EVANS
THE MANCHESTER-BORN journalist edited the Sunday Times between 1967 and 1981.The paper was recognised as one of the world’s leading campaigning and investigative newspapers, famous for its investigative “Insight” team and its relentless campaign to get justice for the victims of the thalidomide scandal. Evans calls on the Guardian and the Financial Times to join Impress.
Photo: PA

It, too, rejects the argument Section 40 will have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism:

“… the high-profile press campaign has also not set out the benefits which commencement of Section 40 would have in protecting publishers, editors and journalists if they were part of [a recognised regulator] and therefore reducing the chilling effect of high court costs on investigative journalism”

At the beginning of March, former Sunday Times editor Sir Harry Evans became a patron of Impress.

Impress is a tremendous impetus and safeguard for investigative journalism,”he said.

Evans added:

“I support these proposals for a regulator that would be wholly independent of government or commercial interests, committed only to enhancing the standards of the British press.

“The dual purpose of discouraging abuses and resisting encroachments on an essential liberty is altogether necessary to restore public confidence.”

“It’s a necessary condition of the freedom of the press to act in the public interest.”

♦♦♦
Published: 11 March 2017
© Press Gang
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Note
See also the Private Eye page.

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COMING
A STAB IN THE BACK 
Press Gang examines the Private Eye coverage of the latest stage in the scandal of  the unsolved 1987 murder of the private detective Daniel Morgan. This month four of the prime suspects lost their High Court action against the Metropolitan Police for maliciously prosecuting them in connection with the murder. One of them, a retired Scotland Yard detective, will receive substantial damages for misfeasance in public office. Press Gang believes four articles in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back” on this case are seriously misleading  …

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

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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

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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.

PRESS GANG LOGO

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.
If you feel articles like Porridge should see the light of day, you can make either a one-off gift or make a commitment to a small monthly donation.

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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.

dave_cook_200

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 …

♦♦♦

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

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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.

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: ENGAGEMENT

January 19, 2016

MURDOCH v THE PEOPLE- 2

LAST WEEK there were two major announcements about Rupert Murdoch.

On Tuesday the Times revealed he was engaged to fellow American citizen Jerry Hall.
 
They’re planning a marriage.
 
On the same day Press Gang asked Ofcom to hold an inquiry into the media mogul’s fitness to hold the Sky TV licence.
 
We’re planning a divorce.
 
If Ofcom declares Murdoch “unfit”, his forthcoming bid to take overall control of the broadcaster will fail.
 
He tried before — an attempt in 2011 was wrecked by the phone hacking scandal. 
 
If he’s found “unfit”, Murdoch will also be forced to sell his remaining 39 per cent stake in the broadcaster.
 
It will be the end of his TV empire in the UK.
 
Ofcom has acknowledged receipt of our request but has not formally responded.
 
This article spells out why this could be an important battlefield …

 ♦♦♦

IN JANUARY 1999 the Sun ran a World Exclusive.

The paper had discovered Jerry Hall had decided to end her marriage with Mick Jagger.

“Jagger divorce” was the front page headline on January 15.

The paper reported:

“The Texan model finally buckled yesterday as she ordered lawyers to start proceedings at the High Court in London.”

It was a famous scoop.

But how did the Sun get it?

The finger points to a young reporter who joined the paper in the late 1990s.

He’d discovered a new way of obtaining stories: hacking phones.

Andy Coulson — associate editor at the Sun at the time — was impressed.

It was later claimed he said of the reporter:

“He’s a one trick pony. But what a trick!”

It’s alleged the journalist was listening in to the voicemail messages of Jagger’s PR man Bernard Doherty. 

RUPERT MURDOCH Rupert Murdoch announced his engagement to Jerry Hall last week. The media have missed the allegation that personal information about Jerry Hall’s divorce from Mick Jagger was illegally obtained by the Sun. The story is told in Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack. Davies claimed a Sun reporter listened to the voicemail messages of one of Jagger’s team. This would given the paper the phone numbers of Jagger — and Jerry Hall … Photo: PA

ENGAGED
THE BILLIONAIRE announced his engagement to Jerry Hall last week. The media have missed the allegation that personal information about Jerry Hall’s “divorce” from Mick Jagger was illegally obtained by the Sun. The story is told in Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack. Davies claimed a Sun reporter — he gave him the codename “Sand” — listened to the voicemail messages of one of Jagger’s team. This would have given the paper the phone numbers of Jagger — and Jerry Hall …
Photo: PA

Coulson and the paper had been following the Jagger-Hall “marriage” — it was later ruled invalid — closely.

In November 1998, for example, the Sun discovered a lawyer acting for Jerry Hall was secretly meeting Jagger’s mistress in New York.

The lawyer was hoping the woman would provide ammunition in the event of divorce proceedings.

A Sun reporter was waiting for the couple when they left a restaurant.

The reaction of Jagger’s girlfriend was: “Oh my God, how did you find me?”

The lawyer asked the reporter: “How DID you know we were here?”

(The emphasis is in the original Sun article.)

Articles like these helped to build Coulson’s reputation.

In 2000 he joined News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks as her deputy.

He was already her lover.

Coulson was married, she was in the middle of a long relationship with EastEnders actor Ross Kemp.

In 2003, when Brooks was promoted to Sun editor, he took the reins of the News of the World.

In 2007 the paper’s royal editor Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking phones — and Coulson resigned.

He later lied to a House of Commons select committee:

“… if a rogue reporter decides to behave in that fashion I am not sure that there is an awful lot more I could have done.”

The Goodman case would have been the end of most people’s career — but not Coulson’s.

Just four months later Opposition Leader David Cameron made him the Tories’ Director of Communications.

One of his champions was shadow Chancellor George Osborne.

Osborne owed Coulson.

Coulson had been kind to the shadow Chancellor. 

In October 2005 the Sunday Mirror published a photograph suggesting Osborne had been a cocaine user.

Taken when he was 22, the snap showed him with his arm around a dominatrix known as Madam Pain.

She was the partner of a friend.

In the background was a line of white powder Madam Pain claimed was cocaine.

The paper’s headline: “Vice Girl: I Snorted Cocaine With Top Tory Boy”.

A CRIMINAL AT NO 10 ANDY COULSON was David Cameron’s communications boss from 2007 until 2011. Critics warned Cameron’s team there were indications Coulson might be involved in the phone hacking scandal. Cameron, who denied ever hearing the warninss, described Coulson as a “friend”. Photo: PA

A CRIMINAL AT NO 10
ANDY COULSON was David Cameron’s communications chief from 2007 to 2011. Critics told Cameron’s team there were indications Coulson might be involved in the phone hacking scandal. Cameron, who denied ever hearing the warnings, described Coulson as a “friend”.
Photo: PA

Coulson also published the picture but the News of the World was unusually sympathetic.

“It was a stark lesson,” Osborne said, “of the destruction which drugs bring to so many people’s lives.”

He denied using cocaine.

When David Cameron became Prime Minister, Coulson joined him at No 10.

When the phone hacking scandal broke in 2011, Coulson resigned.

The rest is history: in July 2014 he was gaoled for 18 months for phone hacking.

There’s nothing new in the rise and fall of Andy Coulson — but it underlines the seriousness of the wrong-doing at Murdoch’s newspapers.

It forms part of our case that, by allowing Coulson to run a criminal enterprise at the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch is “unfit” to run Sky … 

♦♦♦

INCREDIBLY MURDOCH is now poised to make a new bid for Sky.

Like the film Back To The Future  — where a time traveller changes the past — it’s as if the criminal enterprise that thrived at the Sun and News of the World had never happened.

In 2011 David Cameron wouldn’t touch Murdoch with a barge pole.

Now they’re best friends again.

The once disgraced Rebekah Brooks is back as chief executive of Murdoch’s British newspapers. 

The scene is set for Murdoch to make another bid for the 61 per cent of the company his 21st Century Fox business doesn’t already own.

He’s been quietly preparing the ground — the company recently changed its name from BSkyB to Sky plc.

And it also bought Murdoch’s German and Italian satellite interests. 

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON DAVID CAMERON has performed a complete U-turn in his dealings with Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, agreeing that politicians had become too close to media tycoons, he promised: “It’s on my watch that the music has stopped.” Just before Christmas, he and his wife attended a party at Rupert Murdoch’s central London apartment. Photo: PA.

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON …
DAVID CAMERON has performed a complete U-turn in his dealings with Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, agreeing that politicians had become too close to media tycoons, he promised: “It’s on my watch that the music has stopped.” In December he and his wife attended a party at Rupert Murdoch’s central London apartment …
Photo: PA.

There are concerns the move will increase Murdoch’s share of the British market — bringing him closer to the stranglehold Silvio Berlusconi wields in Italy. 

When he tried to buy Sky in 2011, he was also opposed by an unlikely alliance of newspaper groups and other broadcasters.

The BBC and BT joined the Guardian, Telegraph, Mirror and Daily Mail groups in calling for the bid to be blocked.

But the real anxiety is over Sky News.

There are fears Murdoch will try and turn it into a version of his Fox News in the USA.

Fox has earned a reputation as an extreme right wing channel: its journalism the TV equivalent of the Sun.

This isn’t a problem for the Tories — but it is for those for oppose Murdoch.

Commercial broadcasting is tightly regulated in the UK, demnding high editorial standards and political impartiality.

Murdoch plans to deal with these concerns by hiving Sky News into a separate company, guaranteeing its editorial independence in the articles of association.

This solution satisfied Ofcom at the time of the 2011 bid.

Some critics are reassured: the watchdog is a formidable regulator, thwarting Sky’s ambitions on several occasions.

In 2006 Sky had bought an 18 per cent stake in ITV to prevent it merging with another company and creating a competitor to Sky.

An Ofcom inquiry decided the stake gave Sky too much influence in the UK and, eventually, Sky was forced to sell the stake at a loss.

Ofcom has also ordered Sky to reduce the price it charged rivals for the use of its material.

In 2009 Murdoch’s son, James, attacked the watchdog for imposing “astonishing” burdens on broadcasters. 

His solution was brutal:

“There is an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society.”

“The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.”  

The danger here is that David Cameron and George Osborne also have Ofcom in their sights. 

In July 2009 David Cameron said that he wanted to restrict Ofcom to its “narrow technical and enforcement roles” rather than issues of public policy.

“Ofcom, as we know it, will cease to exist,” he said.

The Tories were unable to carry out the pledge because they were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats until 2015.

Critics fear the Tories will now move to cripple Ofcom — and then quietly relax the restrictions on Sky News … 

♦♦♦

THE PRESS GANG campaign The People v. Murdochis designed to force Murdoch’s withdrawal from the UK TV scene.

A week has passed since we asked Ofcom to launch an inquiry into the “fitness” of Rupert Murdoch and his family to be involved in British television.

Under the 1996 Broadcasting Act Ofcom is charged with making sure licence holders are “fit and proper” persons to hold the licence.

Ofcom has already held an inquiry, in 2012.

Although it criticised James Murdoch for his handling of the phone hacking crisis, it decided there wasn’t enough evidence to take the licence away from the Murdochs.

But since then a vast amount of damaging material has emerged — see the previous article, Fightback, for more details. 

Alongside the campaign is a petition on the 38degrees website, here.

And a small crowd-funding project has been launched to pay the initial expenses of the campaign, here.

You can also follow the campaign on Twitter — @pguk10

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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.

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 …

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

April 27, 2015

PM - ASSAULT

THE DAILY MIRROR broke the law on an industrial scale throughout Piers Morgan’s editorship.

And police have had the evidence for more than a decade.

Already —in Whodunnit?Press Gang has shown the paper used a private eye to carry out illegal news-gathering in the early 2000s.

This included evidence that former Daily Mirror reporter Tom Newton Dunn — now political editor of the Sun — allegedly ordered a criminal record check on a sitting MP.

Piers Morgan claims he was ignorant of all of this.

He told the Leveson Inquiry he “had no specific recollection of any stories which depended on the work of private investigators …”

He insisted he was “not aware” of any private investigators “having been found to have engaged in any criminal activity … or of any Daily Mirror employee having any involvement in such law-breaking.” 

Press Gang presents new evidence that further undermines this testimony.

The Daily Mirror was routinely using a controversial private eye in the late 1990s to illegally access confidential information about the rich and powerful.

One of the most dramatic examples — the paper’s decision to break into the bank and building society accounts of a powerful Bank of England committee … 

♦♦♦

IT’S A WEDNESDAY morning at the Daily Mirror offices in Canary Wharf.

On the 22nd floor of the big skyscraper — One Canada Square —  the morning conference is under way.

The meeting is taking place in editor Piers Morgan’s corner office.

The next day’s paper — Thursday, 8 October 1998 — is being planned.

One of the items on the agenda: how the paper will cover tomorrow’s lunchtime announcement from the Bank of England on interest rates.

It’s important because a fall in the rate — currently 7.5 per cent — is widely expected.

It will be the first for many years.

The decision — to be made by the nine members of the Bank’s monetary policy committee — could affect the pockets of many Daily Mirror readers.

TARGETS THE NINE members of the Bank of England's monetary committee in 1998. All were the subject of an illegal

TARGETS
MEMBERS OF the Bank of England’s monetary committee in 1998. Many of them were the subject of an illegal “dark arts” operation organised by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror. Although the attack has been mentioned by other journalists — including Nick Davies (Guardian) and Robert Peston (BBC) — this is the first time the full story has ever been told.
Photo: PA

For Thursday’s paper, it’s already been decided the Mirror will find out about the mortgages of the nine committee members.

But there’s an elephant in the room.

Few in the conference will acknowledge it.

But some know collecting the information will involve breaking the law.

None of the members of the monetary committee will volunteer information about their mortgages. 

So the paper will have to resort to illegal techniques to obtain them.

These methods — later they’ll include phone hacking — are known as the “dark arts”. 

The task’s been handed to the paper’s resident “dark arts” master — senior news reporter Gary Jones. 

He served his apprenticeship on the News of the World.

He was the paper’s crime reporter when Piers Morgan was News of the World editor in 1994 and 1995. 

Jones followed Morgan to the Daily Mirror in 1996. 

Jones knows exactly who to contact to find out about the mortgages of the Bank of England committee members.

This is the private eye Jonathan Rees. 

Rees is a partner in Southern Investigations, a London firm specialising in acquiring illegal information. 

BENT PRIVATE EYE IN JONATHAN REES, the Daily Mirror is choosing a controversial character to do its dirty work. He's a long-standing suspect in the 1987 murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan. In 2009 he will stand trial for the murder only for the case to collapse in 2011. By then he will have served a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details. Photo: PA

BENT PRIVATE EYE
IN JONATHAN REES, the Daily Mirror is choosing a controversial character to do its dirty work. He’s a long-standing suspect in the 1987 murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan. In 2009 he will stand trial for the murder only for the case to collapse in 2011. By then he will have served a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details.
Photo: PA

By lunchtime on Wednesday, 7 October Rees has come up with the goods. 

Gary Jones and reporter Oonagh Blackman get together to write the story …

♦♦♦

THE NEXT day’s Daily Mirror carries an exclusive investigation.

Under the by-lines of Oonagh Blackman and Gary Jones, the story states:

“As millions sweat on a home loans cut, we reveal it’s
ALL RATE FOR SOME
Homeowners will have their mortgage rate fixed today by financiers so wealthy that they won’t be affected if it rises or falls.”

The piece reveals five members have no mortgage at all.

UNLAWFUL THE MIRROR'S exclusive report by Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman is based on information obtained by

UNLAWFUL
THE MIRROR’S exclusive report by Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman is based on information obtained by “blagging” — ringing banks and building societies and pretending to represent committee members. Blagging is a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act.

Some of this information could have come from legitimate sources — such as the government-owned Land Registry. 

But details of mortgages held by three members could only have been obtained unlawfully.

The piece says deputy Governor Mervyn King — who will later become Governor — has a £48,000 mortgage.

His apartment in Notting Hill costs him £400 a month in interest payments.

The Cobham, Surrey home of ex-CIA analyst and businesswoman DeAnne Julius costs £2,500 a month. 

She has a £200,000 mortgage. 

Dutch economist Professor Willem Buiter is paying £685 a month. 

He has an £80,000 mortgage on his cottage in the Bedfordshire village of Great Gransden. 

The paper goes to extraordinary lengths to find out about properties owned by the nine. 

There is some doubt about the extent of committee member Ian Plenderleith’s property near Petworth in West Sussex.

So Jonathan Rees sends an “agent” down to Petworth to make a sketch plan of the grounds.

Shortly after the article appears, the committee cut the interest rate from 7.5 per cent to 7.25 per cent.

SILENCE THERE'S NO mention of the illegal assault on the Bank of England in Piers Morgan's 2005 book, The Insider. His diary entry for 7 October 1998 — the day the attack was being prepared — concentrates on a refusal by the columnist Victor Lewis-Smith to come to lunch ... Photo: PA

SILENCE
THERE’S NO mention of the illegal assault on the Bank of England in Piers Morgan’s 2005 book, The Insider. His diary entry for 7 October 1998 — the day the attack was being prepared — concentrates on a refusal by the columnist Victor Lewis-Smith to come to lunch …
Photo: PA

♦♦♦

FOUR DAYS after the exclusive, Jonathan Rees sends three invoices to the Daily Mirror accounts department.

The total is £1,936.

There is little detail — all relate to “undertaking confidential enquiries”.

But a separate statement is sent to Gary Jones personally.

It’s marked

FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY  

This is more revealing.

It shows £361 of the bill is for legitimate purposes.

But it also makes clear that much of the remaining £1,575 is unlawful.

This amount is for nine separate searches of the committee members:

” … identifying their mortgage details as directed.”

The invoice even shows that Rees gave the paper a discount.

Instead of the normal rate of £275 a search, Rees had reduced the price to £175! 

Rees deliberately sends vague invoices to the Mirror accounts department because he knows he’s breaking the law.

So does Gary Jones.

In the Mirror newsroom is a copy of the reporters’ legal bible — McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists.

DARK ARTS MASTER GARY JONES is one of the key figures in the Daily Mirror's involvement with illegal news-gathering. In the first part of

DARK ARTS MASTER
GARY JONES is one of the key figures in the Daily Mirror’s involvement with illegal news-gathering. In the first part of A Pretty Despicable Man, Press Gang outlined his extensive use of the private eye Steve Whittamore in the early 2000s. Jones — now executive editor of the Sunday Mirror — has never replied to any of our questions …

It includes a chapter on the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The DPA had been amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 to create three new criminal offences:

“— procuring the disclosure of data covered by the … Act

— knowing or believing this to contravene the Act

— or offering to sell the data or information extracted from it.”

The Mirror has already published two separate articles about police officers charged with offences under the Data Protection Act.

A year before the assault on the Bank of England, the paper carries the conviction of a masonic police constable from Wiltshire.

He’d checked the Police National Computer to find out the identity of a fellow mason’s lover.

More evidence that Rees and Jones knew they were breaking the law was to emerge in 1999.

Scotland Yard detectives secretly bugged Rees’ office in south London.

Police listened as Rees and Jones argued about the amount of detail going into invoices to the paper.

The Mirror accounts department want more information.

Rees is adamant he isn’t going to give it:

” … because what we are doing is illegal, innit?”

“I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offences …”

All of the information in this account comes from documents held by Scotland Yard.

There’s no evidence detectives ever considered prosecuting Jonathan Rees and Gary Jones.

♦♦♦

TWO MONTHS after the operation against the bank of England, the Daily Mirror has another bank in its sights.

This time it’s Coutts & Co — bankers to the Royal Family.

The target is the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent.

His commercial activities are handled by a private company — Cantium Ltd — which banks at Coutts HQ in the Strand.

Once again, the private eye involved is Jonathan Rees.

And his contact at the paper is Gary Jones.

Rees has already written to Jones giving numbers of three of the company’s Coutts accounts.

ROYAL BANKERS THE HEADQUARTERS of Coutts & Co in the Strand, London. The Daily Mirror's blagger had no trouble getting the details of three accounts belonging to the Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent. Photo: Rebecca Television

ROYAL BANKERS
THE HEADQUARTERS of Coutts & Co in the Strand, London. The Daily Mirror blagger had no trouble getting the details of three accounts belonging to Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s cousin.
Photo: Rebecca Television

Now Rees asks John Gunning — of his team of “blaggers” — to ring the bank pretending to represent Prince Michael.

(Gunning will later be caught trying to blag confidential information out of BT.

In 2006 he’ll be convicted and fined £600.)

The next day — 26 January 1999 —  Prince Michael of Kent is on the front page of the paper with the headline:

PRINCE’S BANK CRISIS

The story says the company’s bank accounts are overdrawn to the tune of £220,000. 

It claims the overdraft is unauthorised — and that Coutts has frozen the accounts.

The operation against the Prince costs the Mirror £546.37.

In April 1999 the Scotland Yard bug in Jonathan Rees’ office picks up a phone call about this story.

The police note says Rees has been told Prince Michael is suing the Daily Mirror.

“The legal people wanted [Rees] to verify the information and state how he obtained it.”

Rees refuses.

In June 1999 — unable to prove its allegations without revealing the information is illegally obtained — the Mirror is forced to climb down.

The paper says

“… none of the accounts of Prince Michael … have been frozen or suspended and there have never been any unauthorised overdraft balances on any of those accounts.”

The Mirror adds:

“We accept that our original allegations were untrue …”

On this occasion, Scotland Yard did consider the case to see if any criminal offences had been committed.

A report seen by Press Gang states:

“The relevant evidence shows that Rees obtained personal data — the account numbers of Cantium — and then sold that information to Gary Jones.”

“The relevant offence … is covered by Section 55 [4] Data Protection Act … — Selling Personal Data.”

“This offence may be capable of proof.”

No further action is ever taken by the Metropolitan Police.

♦♦♦

IN JANUARY 1999 Prince Michael of Kent isn’t the only Royal in the Mirror’s frame.

Earlier the same month, it’s the Queen’s third son — Prince Edward.

He’s just become engaged to Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The Mirror orders “financial / company information on” the Prince and his new fiancée.

The Prince’s television production company —  Ardent Productions — has its accounts at Coutts. 

On January 5 Rees sends Gary Jones a bill for £339.57 for obtaining Ardent Productions’ “bankers details”. 

On January 12 Jones gets another bill — for £446.49.

This is for providing “financial / company information” on “R-JH PR, Ardent Productions”.

On this occasion, the blagger is John Gunning.

He targets Coutts and Lloyds Bank.   

At the time, Sophie Rhys-Jones is running a PR firm with the publicist Murray Harkin.

The business banks with Lloyds in the City of London. 

BLAGGED SOPHIE RHYS-JONES and Murray Harkin were partners in the public relations business RJH PR. Harkin remembers getting a call from Lloyds Bank during this period.

BLAGGED
SOPHIE RHYS-JONES and Murray Harkin were partners in the public relations business RJH PR. Harkin confirmed getting a call from Lloyds Bank during this period. “I was told they knew someone had successfully — after many attempts, perhaps as many as 26 — guessed my password and obtained confidential information.”
Photo: PA

John Gunning invoices Jonathan Rees.

His bill contains details of Lloyds Bank account number 121131 — the account of RJH PR — and its credit balance: £9,761.34.

Gunning even manages to obtain details of a personal account of Sophie Rhys-Jones’ at the same branch.

This account has a zero balance.  

None of this information ever appears in the Mirror.

It’s a fishing expedition.

But the Scotland Yard assessment of the case — seen by Press Gang — is clear criminal offences have been committed:  

” … the detail of Rhys-Jones’ bank account — both business and personal — prove evidence of procuring the disclosure to another of personal data.”

Rees “… also commits the offence of selling the information …”

There is no mention of Gary Jones — the man who commissions the criminal activity.

The report concludes:

“It is obvious that additional enquiries would have to be made to confirm details but the basic points to prove are present.”

Scotland Yard takes no further action. 

A spokeswoman for Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex declined to comment. 

Murray Harkin told Press Gang he will be instructing solicitors to ask the Metropolitan Police to release the documents it holds.

He added:

“if a criminal offence has been undertaken then I believe that the people responsible should be accountable.”

The Daily Mirror’s long-standing comment on the use of Jonathan Rees is that “many years ago some of our journalists used Southern Investigations.”

“They were last used in 1999.”

“Trinity Mirror’s position is clear. Our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct.”

SCOTLAND YARD THE DOCUMENTS on which this article is based come from the Met's Operation Two Bridges which targeted Jonathan Rees in 1998-1999. They were first leaked in 2002 by senior figures in the Met to the former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan after Rees was gaoled for conspiring to plant drugs on an innocent woman. Since then many reporters have also obtained copies of the material. Photo: Rebecca Television

SCOTLAND YARD
THE MET have been sitting on the documents used in this article ever since 1999.  They come from Operation Two Bridges which targeted Jonathan Rees in 1998-1999. Some of them were first given by senior figures in the Met to the then BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan in 2002 after Rees was gaoled for conspiring to plant drugs on an innocent woman. 
Photo: Rebecca Television

♦♦♦

THE MIRROR’S relationship with Jonathan Rees was shattered on 29 September 1999.

On that day, detectives arrested Rees in connection with a conspiracy to deprive an innocent woman of her child.

Police had bugged Rees’ office in Thornton Heath, south London and heard the plot unfold.

A client of Rees was involved in a custody battle with his estranged wife.

Rees suggested arranging with a corrupt police detective to plant cocaine in her car.

Police were watching as the drugs were planted and the woman arrested.

Then they pounced.

In raids across London, detectives gathered the evidence on which this article is based.

Rees was gaoled for six years for his part in the cocaine conspiracy.

When he appealed against the length of his sentence, it was increased it to seven.

Scotland Yard also wanted to charge Sunday Mirror reporter Doug Kempster for paying a police officer for confidential information.

Piers Morgan had no connection with the Sunday Mirror.

The CPS decided not to prosecute.

Despite this scare, the Daily Mirror’s addiction to the “dark arts” continued.

PIERS MORGAN THE FORMER Daily Mirror editor in happier times with his old friends Andy Coulson (gaoled) and Rebekah Brooks (acquitted). Six days ago — on April 21 — Morgan was interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives from Operation Golding about phone hacking while he was Mirror editor. This followed an earlier interview at the end of 2013. He was not arrested on either occasion. As well as his ITV programme Life Stories, Morgan is also US

PIERS MORGAN
THE FORMER Daily Mirror editor in happier times with his old friends Andy Coulson (ex-editor News of the World: gaoled) and Rebekah Brooks (ex-editor The Sun: acquitted). Six days ago — on April 21 — Morgan was interviewed under caution by Scotland Yard detectives from Operation Golding investigating phone hacking while he was Mirror editor. This followed an earlier interview at the end of 2013. He was not arrested on either occasion. As well as his ITV programme Life Stories, Morgan is currently US “editor-at-large” for the Daily Mail online website. He does not comment on Press Gang articles …
Photo: Richard Young / Rex

The paper simply turned to another private eye — Steve Whittamore.

Illegal news-gathering continued for a further three years until Whittamore was arrested in 2003.

For more on this, see the Press Gang article Whodunnit? 

♦♦♦

Published: 27 April 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦ 

NEXT
DOWN IN THE GUTTER
A FORENSIC examination of Piers Morgan’s celebrated appearance on Desert Island Discs in 2009. He told presenter Kirsty Young phone hacking was one of the “down in the gutter” tactics used on the Daily Mirror.

What he didn’t tell her was that she, too, had been a target of the paper’s “gutter” tactics. In 1998 the paper mounted a surveillance operation to prove she was having an affair with a married man.
The story is also pregnant with the possibility it was based on phone hacking …

 ♦♦♦

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ROGUE JOURNALISTS & BENT COPPERS

February 19, 2015

corrupt_header_02

IN JULY last year, Home Secretary Theresa May set up an independent panel to investigate the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan.

She appointed Baroness Nuala O’Loan, former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman from 2000 to 2007, to head the inquiry.

The Home Secretary said:

“The remit of the Panel is to shine a light on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan’s murder, its background and the handling of the case over the period since 1987.”

“Serious allegations of police corruption have surrounded the investigations into the murder of Daniel Morgan.”

THE STORY SO FAR ... JONATHAN REES (left) the partner of the murdered Daniel Morgan — found with an axe buried in his face in a pub car park in 1987 —has long been a suspect in the case. The previous article, An Axe To Grind, told of the dispute between the two men over Rees' claim that he had been mugged of £18,000. One of the first police officers on the murder investigation was detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) who did not tell his superiors he was a personal friend of Rees. At the inquest, a witness sensationally claimed Rees told him he was looking for someone to murder his partner. It was also revealed that Sid Fillery had retired from Scotland Yard — and stepped into the dead Daniel Morgan's shoes as Rees' new partner. In 2008 Rees and three other men were charged with the murder and Fillery with perverting the course of justice but the case never reached a jury, finally collapsing in March 2011. Although the judge, Mr Justice Maddison, noted that police had "ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the accused", all five defendants have launched a £4 million compensation case against the Metropolitan Police Service. Photos: PA

THE STORY SO FAR …
JONATHAN REES (left) the partner of the murdered Daniel Morgan — found with an axe buried in his face in a pub car park in 1987 — has long been a suspect in the case. The previous article, An Axe To Grind, told of the dispute between the two men over Rees’ claim that he had been mugged of £18,000. One of the first police officers on the murder investigation was detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) who did not tell his superiors he was a personal friend of Rees. At the inquest, a witness sensationally claimed Rees told him he was looking for someone to murder his partner. It was also revealed that Sid Fillery had retired from Scotland Yard — and stepped into the dead Daniel Morgan’s shoes as Rees’ new partner. In 2008 Rees and three other men were charged with the murder and Fillery with perverting the course of justice but the case never reached a jury, finally collapsing in March 2011. Although the judge, Mr Justice Maddison, noted that police had “ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the accused”, all five defendants have since launched a £4 million compensation case against the Metropolitan Police Service.
Photos: PA

“I have made it clear that the Independent Panel should leave no stone unturned in its pursuit of the truth.”

This was, in fact, Theresa May’s second attempt to get the process under way.

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THIS 3,800 word article is the second instalment of an investigation that started more than a decade ago.
For 30 years the Daniel Morgan murder was largely ignored by the UK newspapers and broadcasters.
In part, this was because the News of the World was in a commercial relationship with Southern Investigations.
Press Gang is independent and does not carry advertising. It runs at a loss and the only source of income is donations.
If you feel articles like Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers should see the light of day, you can make either a one-off gift or make a commitment to a small monthly donation.

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She’d originally set up the inquiry in May 2013 but the judge she chose to head it — Sir Stanley Burnton — controversially stepped down six months later for what were described as “personal reasons”.

In fact, he lost the confidence of some of his fellow panel members because he took decisions without consulting them.

One of the areas Baroness O’Loan will be examining is the relationship between tabloid journalists and police detectives.

In this second part of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency, Press Gang charts the rise of Southern Investigations as one of the market leaders in the illegal sale of valuable confidential Scotland Yard information.

Some of this story is already in the public domain.

But Press Gang has also obtained dramatic new material from police sources.

These contacts received no payment.

♦♦

AFTER THE sensational events surrounding Daniel Morgan’s murder died away, Southern Investigations began to expand a profitable part of the business.

The dead man’s former partner Jonathan Rees and retired police detective sergeant Sid Fillery became one of the major clearing houses of confidential information provided by corrupt police officers.

They sold the information to Britain’s tabloid press, especially the News of the World.

DANIEL MORGAN THE UNSOLVED murder of Daniel Morgan has cast a long shadow on the reputation of Scotland Yard. As Tory MP Tracey Crouch has said: "There is something about the Daniel Morgan murder that makes the Establishment very nervous ... it is important we find out what it is and get justice for Daniel and his family." Photo: Morgan Family

DANIEL MORGAN
THE UNSOLVED murder of Daniel Morgan casts a dark shadow on the reputation of Scotland Yard. As Tory MP Tracey Crouch has said: “There is something about the Daniel Morgan murder that makes the Establishment very nervous … it is important we find out what it is and get justice for Daniel and his family.”
Photo: Morgan Family

Guardian reporter Nick Davies, in his book Hack Attack, stated:

“In a single year, 1996-97, the News of the World paid Southern a total of more than £160,000.”

Fillery later gave a revealing interview about the agency’s activities for the 2004 book Untouchables.

“Sid Fillery,” wrote authors Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn, “is a big jovial, Toby jug of a man.”

“With sad spaniel’s eyes and a laugh as large as the London Palladium, he seems on first impressions as if he could have stepped out of an episode of Dixon of Dock Green.”

Fillery said one of the agency’s key contacts was News of the World reporter Alex Marunchak.

In 1989, two years after the murder of Daniel Morgan, Marunchak came to the Victory pub in Thornton Heath to talk to the partners about doing business with the paper.

Rees and Fillery quickly built up a profitable business selling information to News of the World reporters.

They were even involved with the paper’s now-disgraced investigative reporter Mahzer Mahmood.

On one occasion, Fillery dressed up as an English private secretary while Mahmood played his role of the ‘fake sheik’.

They were also involved in the story about Paddy Ashdown’s affair with a House of Commons secretary.

Documents stolen from the office of the Liberal politician’s solicitor were being touted around Fleet Street.

Southern Investigations were asked by Alex Marunchak to meet the man who was trying to sell them.

But a corrupt Scotland Yard detective, Duncan Hanrahan, who was in the Southern Investigations office at the time, sabotaged the meeting.

Hanrahan had been one of the detectives who “investigated” the robbery of Jonathan Rees back in 1986 when muggers allegedly took £18,000 off him.

(See Part One: An Axe To Grind for more on this.)

CORRUPT COPPER DUNCAN HANRAHAN came to grief when he was caught red-handed trying to corrupt a member of Scotland Yard's anti-corruption team. In 1999 he was gaoled for eight years and four months after pleading guilty to 11 offences, including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Photo: PA

CORRUPT COPPER
DUNCAN HANRAHAN came to grief when he was caught red-handed trying to corrupt a member of Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption team. In 1999 he was gaoled for eight years and four months after pleading guilty to 11 offences, including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Photo: PA

Authors Gillard and Flynn say Hanrahan told them he had a grudge against Marunchak after he gave him information which turned up in another newspaper.

Hanrahan believed Marunchak, instead of using the story in the News of the World and paying him, had given the information to a rival newspaper and pocketed the proceeds himself.

In retaliation, Hanrahan tipped off the City of London police who got to the rendezvous with the man selling the Ashdown documents before Southern Investigation’s man could get there.

♦♦♦

IN THE 1990s, Southern Investigations were asked to investigate allegations that some Murdoch journalists were moonlighting and selling information to rivals.

At the same time, the News of the World had spies on its main tabloid rivals.

In 1994, for example, Piers Morgan was News of the World editor.

In his book The Insider, Morgan wrote:

“… we have one of the Sunday Mirror’s journalists on our pay roll, bunging him £250 a week for a rundown of their stories, and more if he gives us a big one.”

“It’s a disgrace, of course, and totally unethical.”

“But very handy.”

“To make it even more amusing, he’s their crime correspondent.”

“We also, unbelievably, have a similar source on the Sunday People, a secretary who does the same for a bit less money.”

“So for under £500 a week we always know what our competitors are doing.”

In November 1995, when Piers Morgan became editor of the Daily Mirror, he moved against the spies.

“The Sunday Mirror journalist and the Sunday People secretary have been fired.”

“I’d given them a month to stop and incredibly they had just carried on.”

“So I fired them.”

TABLOID SPIES PIERS MORGAN was editor of the News of the World when the paper was paying spies on rival Mirror group papers.  Photo: PA

TABLOID SPIES
PIERS MORGAN was editor of the News of the World when the paper was spying on rival Mirror group papers.
Photo: PA

As the 1990s progressed, the links between the News of the World reporters and Southern Investigations deepened.

In 1996, Alex Marunchak and Greg Miskiw, another News of the World reporter, became directors of an import / export company called Abbeycover.

Abbeycover, which apparently imported alcohol from eastern Europe, had its registered address at Southern Investigations’ Thornton Heath offices.

(In July 2014 Greg Miskiw was given a six months prison sentence after pleading guilty to phone hacking in the same trial that saw the conviction of Andy Coulson.)

And the money wasn’t just flowing from the News of the World — Southern Investigations were also paying Marunchak for what it called “consultancy services”.

In 1998, for example, the News of the World reporter was allegedly paid hundreds of pounds.

No-one is prepared to say what the reporter did in return for these “consultancy services”.

There have also been allegations that his children’s school fees were occasionally paid by the agency and that his credit card was cleared by Rees and Fillery.

Marunchak denies all these allegations (see note 4).

♦♦♦

IN THE late 1990s Scotland Yard made a determined bid to stop tabloid reporters corrupting serving officers to get their hands on confidential police information.

Its secret anti-corruption team, CIB3, targeted Southern Investigations in Operation Two Bridges (originally called Operation Nigeria).

There was evidence that a group of corrupt serving and retired police officers were passing valuable information from inside Scotland Yard to the agency.

BUGGED JONATHAN REES caught by secret police cameras outside the offices of Southern Investigations. The premises had also been broken into and bugs planted ...  Photo: PA

BUGGED
JONATHAN REES caught by secret police cameras outside the offices of Southern Investigations. The premises had also been broken into and bugged …
Photo: PA

At the same time, the murder of Daniel Morgan remained unsolved and the family’s campaign against the Metropolitan Police was embarrassing the force.

“I find it incredible that it took ten years for the Met to install a bug in their offices — why wasn’t it done years earlier?” asks Alastair Morgan.

In his book, Bent Coppers, former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan noted:

“Southern [Investigations] were also starting to try and undermine the Yard’s crackdown on corruption by spreading stories and rumours about some of those involved with it…”

In June 1999 CIB3, the Met’s anti-corruption unit, launched Operation Two Bridges.

They installed a bug in the offices of Southern Investigations in the south London suburb of Thornton Heath.

Documents written by anti-corruption detectives were later leaked to McLagan.

One of these stated:

“For a considerable period of time, there has been much spoken about DS Sid Fillery and his business partner … Rees being involved in corrupt activities involving serving police officers.”

Another stated:

” … the intelligence indicates that Fillery and Rees are corrupters of police officers and participants in organised crime.”

Rees and Fillery, the report went on:

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

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

Between June and September 1999, anti-corruption detectives monitored the day-to-day business of the detective agency.

Officers listened as Southern Investigations obtained information about the royal family from police officers to sell to newspapers.

Transcripts revealed that News of the World reporter Alex Marunchak was one of the agency’s major clients.

In one phone conversation, in July, Rees said the paper owed Southern Investigations £7,555.

In this period the agency sent 66 invoices to the News of the World — worth £13,000 — all but one of them addressed to Alex Marunchak.

ALEX MARUNCHAK A KEY News of the World executive for several decades, Marunchak was an important customer for Southern Investigations.  Photo: BBC

ALEX MARUNCHAK
A KEY News of the World executive for several decades, Marunchak was an important customer for Southern Investigations. Marunchak comes from a Ukrainian family and for many years acted as an interpreter for Scotland Yard.
Photo: BBC

In September 2002, Graeme McLagan wrote an article for the Guardian.

He revealed that Rees had sold information to News of the World reporter Alex Marunchak about the criminal Kenneth Noye, convicted of the M25 road rage murder.

When McLagan asked Marunchak if he disputed that he had bought information from Rees, Marunchak said:

“You haven’t heard me admit it.”

♦♦♦

ONE OF the corrupt police officers who was bugged talking to Southern Investigations was a detective constable called Tom Kingston.

He was later gaoled for three and a half years for stealing and selling amphetamines.

The bugs revealed Kingston had a police contact who was prepared to sell information.

“It took anti-corruption detectives little effort,” wrote McLagan in his book Bent Coppers, “to work out that Kingston’s contact was one of his best friends, and that he was passing, through the suspended detective, sensitive information from a confidential police publication called the Police Gazette.”

“Kingston was then selling it to a reporter with a Sunday tabloid newspaper, a regular visitor to Southern Investigations.”

McLagan did not name this journalist but Press Gang has established it was Doug Kempster, then a reporter on the Mirror-owned Sunday Mirror.

Before joining the Mirror stable in 1996, Kempster had worked for the News of the World.

McLagan did not name the police officer but Press Gang understands it was Paul Valentine, at the time attached to the Special Escort Group based in Barnes.

In 2002 McLagan asked Kempster, who was working as a government press officer by then, about his links with Southern.

Kempster told him:

“It’s something we just don’t comment on.”

Some of the information obtained by Kempster also found its way to another journalist, Gary Jones on the Daily Mirror.

Jones also bought information directly from the agency.

(Jones will be familiar to Press Gang readers from the Whodunnit? article in the series about Piers Morgan, A Pretty Despicable Man.

Jones was the News of the World crime reporter whose contacts gave him access to a confidential Scotland Yard report in 1994.

This sensationally revealed that Princess Diana had been making anonymous phone calls to London art dealer Oliver Hoare.

GARY JONES A FORMER News of the World crime reporter, Jones followed Piers Morgan to the Daily Mirror. Today, he's a senior executive editor at the Mirror Group. He's always declined to talk to Press Gang.  Photo: Rebecca Television

GARY JONES
A FORMER News of the World crime reporter, Jones followed Piers Morgan to the Daily Mirror. He was one of the most important customers of Southern Investigations. Currently a senior executive editor at the Mirror Group, he’s always declined to talk to Press Gang
Photo: Rebecca Television

It is not known if Southern Investigations were involved in this tale.)

In July 1999 Rees and Kingston were overheard discussing an officer in the diplomatic protection squad whose firearms certificate was withdrawn because he was taking steroids.

The information led to an article written by Gary Jones.

In March 2011 the BBC Panorama programme uncovered another extract from the transcripts generated in the bugging operation at Southern Investigations.

The programme revealed that, in July 1999, there was an angry exchange between Rees and Gary Jones of the Daily Mirror.

The reporter was under pressure from his accounts department to give more details about the payments he was authorising to Southern Investigations.

Rees insisted that he wasn’t going to provide any more details:

“What we’re doing is illegal, isn’t it?” he said.

“You know I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offences.”

♦♦♦

JONATHAN REES was given the codename “Avon” during the bugging operation of Southern Investigations.

The transcripts show the relationship between Alex Marunchak of the News of the World and the agency was deep but troubled.

On one occasion, in 1999, Marunchak demanded to know what information the agency were selling to his rival, Doug Kempster of the Sunday Mirror.

In a conversation with Sid Fillery, Rees said he told the News of the World reporter it was none of his business.

When Marunchak hinted that if Southern were engaged in illegal activity, the firm risked being raided by the police, Rees took this as a threat.

He told Fillery that, if Southern or any of its contacts were raided by the police, he would tell the News of the World the names of its reporters who were taking backhanders from Southern Investigations:

“I’ll say your fucking paper will get fucking tipped off about who gets backhanders.”

♦♦♦

AS OPERATION Two Bridges unfolded, anti-corruption detectives felt a successful prosecution against Rees and some of his sources would send a powerful shot across the bows of the tabloids.

One report noted:

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

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

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

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

Operation Two Bridges came to a dramatic but early close because detectives were forced to deal with Jonathan Rees’ attempts to plant drugs on an innocent woman. 

Even so, detectives still felt they had enough to question four suspects about the illegal sale of confidential Scotland Yard information.

Doug Kempster was arrested at his parents’ home, where a page from the Police Gazette was found.

During the later search of Kempster’s own home:

” … the postman delivered a letter in a large brown envelope addressed to Douglas Kempster … containing a short letter from JR [Jonathan Rees] … also containing an original issue of the copy of the Police Gazette …”

Kempster’s response to all questions put to him was:

“No comment”.

Rees was arrested.

RAIDS ANTI-CORRUPTION DETECTIVES from the Met arrested two serving police officers  suspected of selling confidential information to Jonathan Rees and Mirror group journalist Doug Kempster. Photo: Rebecca Television

RAIDS
ANTI-CORRUPTION DETECTIVES from the Met arrested two serving police officers suspected of selling confidential information to Jonathan Rees and Mirror group journalist Doug Kempster.
Photo: Rebecca Television

Rees claimed that the bug in Southern Investigations violated his human rights.

Kingston was arrested at his home.

He later read out a prepared statement denying his involvement in any illegal activity.

The Met officer, Paul Valentine from the Special Escort Group, was also arrested.

He had no comment to make when he was questioned about the corruption allegations.

♦♦♦

IN 2000, the anti-corruption team submitted an advice file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The report sought advice about whether there was enough evidence to charge the four men — Jonathan Rees, Doug Kempster and serving police officers Tom Kingston and Paul Valentine — with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The evidence was based mainly on the bugs installed in Southern Investigations in 1999 as part of Operation Two bridges.

In the transcripts, all four suspects were given codenames based on rivers:

Rees is “Avon”

Kempster: “Dart”

Kingston: “Ganges” 

Valentine: “Severn”.

One of the incidents highlighted was the loss of a copy of the Police Gazette in July 1999.

Southern Investigations had given it to Doug Kempster who then gave it to a senior executive on the paper who’d taken it home to read.

Kempster rang Rees to say:

"AVON" CALLING JONATHAN REES: when police searched his his home and office, they found copies of a confidential internal police magazine ... Rees claimed his human rights had been violated. Photo: PA

“AVON” CALLING
JONATHAN REES: when police searched his home and office, they found copies of a confidential internal police magazine. Rees claimed the search violated his human rights …
Photo: PA

“I can’t believe it— he’s fucking thrown it out — the fucking wanker — why did he take it home?”

For legal reasons Press Gang can’t name this executive.

Detective constable Tom Kingston, who was in the office, told Rees that Kempster had to get it back:

” … or else he won’t get any more.”

A couple of hours later, Kempster himself arrived at Southern Investigations.

He agreed to pay £200 to make up for the lost edition of the Police Gazette.

Rees and Kingston then moved on to discuss an identity parade where the M25 road rage murderer Kenneth Noye was due to appear.

They had given this information to Kempster who had published an article in the Sunday Mirror about it.

The price for the information, allegedly, was £400 split £100 for an unnamed police officer with the remaining £300 to be shared between Kingston and Rees.

Other transcripts indicate that the police officer Paul Valentine may have been receiving a monthly retainer of £150 from Southern Investigations.

On another occasion, Kempster visited Southern Investigations and he and Rees discussed the contents of an edition of Police Gazette.

Kempster responds to one article by saying:

“Asians look a lot better dead” and he and Rees joke about a “one-legged nigger.”

The report from the anti-corruption team concludes:

“sensitive police documents have been obtained without authority and passed to journalists for a financial consideration by Rees and Kingston.”

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute.

♦♦♦
Published: 19 February 2015
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

 

NOTES
1
There have been recent developments in this affair — see Daniel Morgan page here 
for more details.
2
This article is part two of a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011.
To view part one, click on An Axe To Grind.
Back in 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 other.”
No legal action was taken.
Jonathan Rees’ position has been explored in a Mail on Sunday article which can be read here.
3

This article draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as by other journalists, including Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC journalist Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers.  It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s Untouchables. Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack, Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch.
4
Alex Marunchak gave a detailed rebuttal of the allegations made against him in an interview with the Press Gazette website. Read it here.
5
The current Daniel Morgan Independent Panel comprises Baroness Nuala O’Loan (chair), Professor Rodney Morgan (ex HM Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales) and Samuel Pollock OBE (chief executive of the Northern Ireland Policing Board).
6

Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales. 

 ♦♦♦

NEXT
THE NO 1 Corrupt Detective Agency continues with Porridge. Jonathan Rees was acquitted of murder and Sid Fillery of attempting to pervert the course of justice. But the Daniel Morgan murder investigation brought them to book for other crimes — Rees for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother and Fillery of making indecent images of children being sexually abused.

♦♦♦

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

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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.

AN AXE TO GRIND

January 27, 2015

corrupt_header

IN MAY 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May announced a judge-led inquiry into the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.

Her decision came two years after the prosecution of five suspects collapsed at the Old Bailey.

Five separate police investigations had failed to bring the killers to book.

The Home Secretary said:

“The horrific murder of Daniel Morgan and subsequent investigations were dogged by serious allegations of police corruption.”

This article — the first in The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency series — lays bare the extraordinary sequence of events that lies behind that statement.

It reads like pulp fiction.

Except it’s true …

♦♦♦

THE STORY starts in the car-park of a pub in south London in 1987.

Private detective Daniel Morgan leaves the Golden Lion in Sydenham and is walking to his car.

It’s just after nine o’clock in the evening.

DANIEL MORGAN Scotland Yard's failure to bring his killer to justice became an enduring stain on its reputation.  Yard. Photo: courtesy of the Morgan family.  Photo: PA

DANIEL MORGAN
SCOTLAND YARD’S  failure to bring the killer of the 34-year-old to justice remains an enduring stain on its reputation..
Photo: PA

He’s carrying crisps for his young children.

A meeting with Jonathan Rees — his partner in the private detective agency Southern Investigations — has just ended.

In the weeks before this meeting, the two men have been arguing about a security operation that went wrong.

Rees arranged to handle the security for a car auction business only to be robbed of more than £18,000 in cash.

The owners of the car auction are not satisfied with Rees’ explanation — that he was mugged — and start legal proceedings to recover their money.

Southern Investigations does not have insurance to carry cash.

Morgan, who didn’t want anything to do with the job, is unhappy that he should have to pay half the bill.

Rees leaves the pub before Morgan.

PRIME SUSPECT  Jonathan Rees has been the prime suspect in the case. He's always denied any involvement and is now suing the police. Press Gang has discovered he's been taken to court by a firm of solicitors over an unpaid legal bill. Photo: PA

JONATHAN REES
ONE OF the prime suspects in the case, Rees has always denied any involvement and is now suing the police. He enjoyed the company of police detectives — some of them later convicted of corruption …
Photo: PA

He’s parked at the front of the building.

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THIS ARICLE is the first instalment of an investigation that started more than a decade ago.
For 30 years the Daniel Morgan murder was largely ignored by the UK newspapers and broadcasters.
In part, this was because the News of the World was in a commercial relationship with Southern Investigations.
Press Gang is independent and does not carry advertising. It runs at a loss and the only source of income is donations.
If you feel articles like An Axe To Grind should see the light of day, you can make either a one-off gift or make a commitment to a small monthly donation.

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When Morgan walks to the car-park, a man attacks the father of two with an axe.

The attack is so ferocious that the axe is buried deep in the dead man’s face.

More than two decades later five men will be charged in connection with the murder.

The prosecution case is that the man who wields the axe is Glenn Vian.

The man who acts as look-out is Gary Vian.

The Vians are Rees brothers-in-law.

He uses them as part-time security guards.

Private detective Jonathan Rees is the bait to get Morgan to the pub.

The man who drives the getaway car is Jimmy Cook, an occasional employee of Southern Investigations.

Retired Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery is the last of the defendants.

He will be accused of perverting the course of justice …

♦♦♦

SID FILLERY is one of the key players in the Daniel Morgan scandal.

Fillery is a friend of Rees — and one of the first detectives on the case.

SID FILLERY  Sid Fillery: for four days in 1987 he was a key officer in the Morgan murder investigation. He claimed he left the investigation when it became clear that there was a conflict of interest. His boss, however, said that he ordered him off the inquiry when he discovered he was linked to Rees. Fillery was arrested shortly afterwards but released without charge. In 2002 he was convicted of fifteen counts of making indecent images of children. Photo: PA

SID FILLERY
FOR FOUR days in 1987 the detective sergeant was a key officer in the Morgan murder investigation. He claimed he withdrew when it became clear there was a conflict of interest. His boss, however, said he ordered him off the inquiry when he discovered he was linked to Rees. Fillery was arrested shortly afterwards but released without charge. In 2002 he was convicted of fifteen counts of making indecent images of children.
Photo: PA

He’s based at Catford Police Station — its patch includes the Golden Lion.

For several days he will not tell his bosses that Rees and the dead man were arguing about the car auction robbery.

Fillery does not tell his superiors that he and officers from Catford have been moonlighting as security guards for Rees.

Or that it was Fillery himself who brought the car auction business and Rees together.

Shortly after the murder, Fillery will retire from the police and step into the dead man’s shoes as Jonathan Rees’ new partner.

In 2008 all five men will be arrested in connection with the murder.

But the case never goes to trial — a series of pre-trial hearings results in the court refusing to admit the evidence of prosecution witnesses.

The case finally collapses in March 2011.

♦♦♦

DANIEL MORGAN set up Southern Investigations in 1984.

He’d learnt the business working for the Croydon detective agency Madagans. 

Later he was joined by another private detective, Jonathan Rees.

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL  DANIEL'S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay a wreath at the place where he died. Photo: PA

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL
DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay a wreath at the place where he died.
Photo: PA

But the two men were chalk and cheese. 

Morgan was a hard-working loner with a reputation as a womaniser. 

Rees was sociable and liked to spend time in the pub with his mates — many of them policemen.

Tensions built up between the two. 

Daniel saw himself as a grafter and complained he was doing the lion’s share of the work. 

He talked to his older brother Alastair about these tensions:

“I remember him saying to me once — I drove 40,000 miles last year and that guy hangs around in a bar drinking with his CID mates”.

“He was upset about it”.

Rees liked the company of police detectives — one of his closest friends was Sid Fillery.

The two men were freemasons.

They often attended an unofficial lunch club at the Croydon Masonic Hall for serving and retired police officers and their friends.

It was called “Brothers in Law”.

♦♦♦

THE YEAR before the murder Rees took a job organising the security for a local firm called Belmont Car Auctions in Charlton.

The firm had recently been robbed of £17,000 and wanted better protection at the site.

One of the directors was related to a local policeman who introduced him to Fillery.

Fillery suggested he get in touch with Rees.

Rees recruited police officer friends, including Sid Fillery, to help out during the auctions.

He also employed his brothers-in-law Glenn and Gary Vian.

GLENN VIAN ONE OF the security guards on the Belmont job was Rees' brother-in-law Glenn Vian. He would later be accused of axing Daniel Morgan to death ...  Photo: PA

GLENN VIAN
ONE OF the security guards on the Belmont job was Rees’ brother-in-law Glenn Vian. He would later be accused of axing Daniel Morgan to death …
Photo: PA

One night in March 1986 Rees took £18,000 in takings which he intended to deposit in a Midland Bank nightsafe. 

He said the nightsafe had been superglued shut and decided to take the money home.

He claimed that after he parked his car, he was attacked by two men.

Liquid was sprayed in his eyes and the money stolen. 

He was taken to hospital for treatment.

One of the detectives who investigated the alleged robbery was detective constable Duncan Hanrahan.

Hanrahan — another freemason who attended the “Brothers in Law” club and knew Rees and Fillery — would later be gaoled for corruption.

Hanrahan’s report of the robbery noted: 

“To attack somebody outside his house and get £18,000 … you would have to be the luckiest mugger in the world.” 

DUNCAN HANRAHAN THE DETECTIVE who investigated the mugging reported by Rees. He was later gaoled for corruption. Photo: PA

LUCKY MUGGER
THE DETECTIVE who investigated the robbery said the criminal responsible was the “luckiest mugger in the world”. Duncan Hanrahan was later gaoled on corruption charges unrelated to Rees or Fillery.
Photo: PA

But police inquiries were superficial and the investigation went nowhere. 

No-one was ever charged for the alleged robbery.

Belmont Car Auctions didn’t believe Jonathan Rees’ story — and started legal proceedings to recover its money.

Morgan was furious.

He felt Rees should pay the money rather than Southern Investigations.

The night before the murder, Morgan, Rees and Fillery met at the Golden Lion to discuss the issue.

Off-duty police officers later joined them for a drink.

The next night, after meeting former lover and estate agent Margaret Harrison, Daniel again met Rees at the Golden Lion.

Rees, who had parked in front of the pub, left first.

When Daniel left, he was murdered.

♦♦♦

TWO DAYS after the murder Alastair Morgan went to Catford Police Station.

He wanted to tell them he was convinced the events surrounding the Belmont Car Auction affair were the key to solving the case.

The detective he talked to was detective sergeant Sid Fillery.

Alastair Morgan had no idea that the police officer was a close friend of Rees.

“I remember explaining to him that I thought Daniel may have found out something about that robbery and had been murdered as a result of that.”

GOLDEN LION THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. The night before the murder, Daniel Morgan had met with Rees and Fillery.  Photo: PA

GOLDEN LION
THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. The night before the murder, Daniel Morgan had met with Rees and Fillery.
Photo: PA

“And he said to me — what robbery was that then?”

Fillery has always denied this conversation ever took place.

In fact, Fillery was the first person to interview Jonathan Rees — he also asked Rees to identify the dead man.

Fillery did not tell his superiors that he not only knew about the Belmont Car Auction affair but that he and other officers had been moonlighting for Southern Investigations.

Fillery also visited the offices of Southern Investigations as part of his inquiries.

Later, it became clear that several files, including the one on Belmont Car Auctions, were missing.

Fillery was on the investigation for four days.

The man leading the inquiry, detective superintendent Douglas Campbell, was furious when he discovered Fillery’s connection with Rees.

He arrested Fillery and police constables Peter Foley and Alan Purvis who he believed had also moonlighted on the Belmont Car Auctions security operation.

He also arrested Jonathan Rees and the Vian brothers.

All were later released without charge.

The Metropolitan Police later paid compensation to PCs Foley and Purvis for wrongful arrest.

By the time the inquest took place a year later, Sid Fillery had retired on medical grounds.

He quietly stepped into Daniel Morgan’s shoes as Jonathan Rees’ new partner …

♦♦♦

THE INQUEST was to be one of the most explosive in British history. 

Kevin Lennon, the book-keeper for Southern Investigations, gave sensational evidence.

He said Jonathan Rees told him he wanted Daniel Morgan dead.

KEVIN LENNON THE BOOK-KEEPER at Southern Investigations testified that Jonathan Rees made it clear he wanted Daniel Morgan dead. Photo: ITV

KEVIN LENNON
THE BOOK-KEEPER at Southern Investigations testified at the inquest that Jonathan Rees made it clear he wanted Daniel Morgan dead. A Mail on Sunday article in August 2014 claimed that Lennon later told Rees he’d been pressurised by police — he’d been charged with fraud. However, when ITV Wales talked to Lennon in 2004, he was sticking to his original story … 
Photo: ITV

Lennon told the coroner that Rees “asked me to find someone to kill Morgan.” 

“He asked me this on at least two occasions.” 

“He was of the impression that I knew people who could or would be willing to kill Morgan.”

“On each occasion I attempted to dissuade Rees from considering such a course of action.”

“He was adamant that he wanted Morgan killed.”

In a later conversation at the Victory pub in Thornton Heath he alleged Jonathan Rees told him he’d solved the problem.

“He said words to the effect, ‘Forget about arranging his death, I’ve got it fixed … ‘.”

“He explained that police officers who were friends of his based at Catford were capable and willing to organise it.”

He also said Rees later told him, again in the Victory pub, he had a new partner in mind once Morgan was dead:

Sid Fillery.

“ … Fillery was to take Morgan’s place after his death.”

“He was to get an ill-health pension or medical discharge.”

“He and Fillery were, according to Rees, very close and that nothing would be better to Rees than for Fillery to join in the company.”

It was Lennon who first revealed the fact that Fillery was now working with Rees.

Lennon said that Rees had discussed the murder with his wife Sharon Rees — the sister of the Vian brothers.

She sent the coroner a note to say she wasn’t mentally fit to give evidence. 

The next day she was photographed out shopping by the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

THE MAN in charge of the murder investigation also gave evidence.

Detective superintendent Douglas Campbell accepted Fillery’s actions in the days after the murder had seriously undermined the inquiry.

He also told the inquest that Daniel had been talking about blowing the whistle on police corruption in south London.

Campbell added:

“I could find no evidence at all.”

“It was a suggestion that he had a story to sell to a newspaper.”

“I spoke to the other persons concerned.” 

“I even went to the newspaper but if I told you what he was offered you would see it was quite ludicrous.” 

“He was alleged to have been offered £250,000 per story.”

Campbell didn’t reveal the name of the newspaper that Morgan went to. 

Now retired, he’s always declined to be interviewed about the murder investigation.

In fact, the evidence now points to the fact that Daniel Morgan may have approached several papers.

A former private eye who knew the murdered man says he told him he was going to see a reporter on the News of the World.

That reporter was Alex Marunchak and that the story was about police corruption. 

The figure discussed was £40,000 — an enormous sum of money in those days.

ALEX MARANCHAK A KEY editorial figure on the News of the World, the Ukrainian-born crime reporter had strong links with the Met. At the time of the inquest he was also working as a part-time translator for Scotland Yard.  Photo: BBC

ALEX MARUNCHAK
A KEY editorial figure on the News of the World, the Ukrainian-born crime reporter had strong links with the Met. At the time of the inquest he was also working as a part-time translator for Scotland Yard.
Photo: BBC

Marunchak insists he never met the murdered man.

The inquest also heard from Margaret Harrison –  the woman Daniel Morgan met the night of the murder.

She had received more than 60 phone calls from Jonathan Rees in the months leading up to the killing. 

She denied she was having an affair with Rees at the time Daniel Morgan was killed.

Later she and Rees shared a house in south London.

They are still together, co-owners of a property in Weybridge, Surrey.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Alastair Morgan and his family were stunned when the police took no action after the inquest.

They began a long campaign to bring Daniel’s murderers to book.

It’s a campaign that was to drag the Murdoch-owned News of the World into the mystery… 

♦♦♦

NOTES
1
There have been recent developments in this affair — see
http://wp.me/P3kXx7-8K for more details.
2
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 other.” 
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
3
This article draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as by other journalists, especially Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC journalist Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers.  It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s The Untouchables. Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack, Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch
4
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales. 

 ♦♦♦
Published: 27 January 2015
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

COMING UP
THE NO 1 Corrupt Detective Agency continues with Rogue Journalists and Bent Coppers. Southern Investigations became the heart of a web of illegal news-gathering with Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World one of its most valuable clients. 

♦♦♦

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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.

♦♦♦

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 … 

♦♦♦
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…

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.