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 since launched a £4 million compensation case against the Metropolitan Police Service.
“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.
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.
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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.
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.)
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.
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.”
PIERS MORGAN was editor of the News of the World when the paper was spying on rival Mirror group papers.
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.
JONATHAN REES caught by secret police cameras outside the offices of Southern Investigations. The premises had also been broken into and bugged …
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.”
” … 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.
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.
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.
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:
Rees was arrested.
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”
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:
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 …
“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
There have been recent developments in this affair — see Daniel Morgan page here for more details.
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.
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.
Alex Marunchak gave a detailed rebuttal of the allegations made against him in an interview with the Press Gazette website. Read it here.
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).
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.
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.
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