Posts Tagged ‘WPLongform’

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 close 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.

♦♦♦

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

One was a professional drug dealer called James Ward.

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

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

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

David Whitehouse QC, for Glenn Vian, said Ward:

dave_cook_200

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

” … is a career criminal who has been able to remain active in crime by playing the informant — he has had relationships, including financial relationships, with police officers.”

He added he “has given information to the police, some of it true some of it not true.”

“The result is the police have been prepared to make representations to judges to seek lighter sentences when he is caught.”

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

Ward knew Rees, Fillery and the Vians.

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

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

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

He chose the Daniel Morgan murder as his bargaining tool.

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

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

“Not worth it,” he concluded.

He was only prepared to give intelligence.

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

The following exchange took place:

Ward: “Where shall I start?”

DCS Cook:

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

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

Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

At that stage, he noted:

“Cook was gathering intelligence not evidence.”

Ward later agreed to give evidence.

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

This was to prevent murder squad detectives influencing witnesses.

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

Again, Mitting was unimpressed:

John-Mitting

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A separate Proceeds of Crime investigation was also carried out.

Ward was eventually ordered to surrender £633,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW SCOTLAND YARD

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

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

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

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

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

But he added:

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

♦♦♦

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.”

157_ALASTAIR:ISOBEL

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 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 [this article]
Private Eye — A Stab In The Back
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. Since this article was published, Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes have published the book Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed. The Press Gang review can be read here.
6
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.

♦♦♦

NEXT
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. Read this piece here.

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THE FALL OF MAZHER MAHMOOD

October 5, 2016

mahmood_head_with_words_06

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.

eg3wf0naz323j5yhprao

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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CITIZEN SMITH

September 7, 2016

 

Owen_Smith_head_citizen

ONE OF the most common criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s unelectable.

Critics point to the poll ratings, with Labour currently trailing the Tories.

But little attention has been paid to challenger Owen Smith’s electoral record.

In the past decade he and his wife have stood in four elections — all in traditional Labour strongholds.

They’ve lost two of them.

Even when Owen Smith wins, he does so with a reduced majority.

Some voters are not impressed with his style: he was nicknamed “Oily” in one election and arrogant in another.

Is there something toxic about “brand Smith”?

♦♦♦

THREE YEARS ago Owen Smith was the driving force behind a political manifesto.

He co-edited a series of essays called One Nation: power, hope, community.

The Guardian said:

” … a group of the party’s rising stars call for it to end the lockout of local communities from power and to bury top-down statist solutions that have failed in the past.”

It was a time when Labour was searching for a way to appeal to the middle ground of British politics.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband summed it up in the preface:

“… a One Nation Labour Party is a party of the national interest, not one part of the country or any sectional interest.”

In the opening chapter Owen Smith was candid about the problems he faced in his own constituency, Pontypridd in south Wales.

“Membership and majorities are counted carefully now, when once they were weighed. Belief in our mission is dwindling.”

He was also clear about the solution:

“I believe the answer comes in two parts: we need both bottom-up participation and leadership from the top; to simultaneously cultivate our roots and command the heights.”

But he admits his attempt to regenerate Labour grass-roots in Pontypridd isn’t working:

“ … in the three years since I was elected the means to galvanise that engagement has proved elusive and frustrating.”

“This is undoubtedly partly a result of the many previous false dawns that have promised progress but failed to deliver: it’s hard to feel progressive when there seems so little sign of progress for you and yours.”

But he was still confident things could be turned around.

“Slowly but surely, Labour is re-engaging with dialogue in our communities, and developing new common objectives and solutions that will prove the real foundations for our rebuilding.”

Part of the strategy was a move to bring greater democracy to the party:

“Iain McNicol [Labour’s General Secretary] has been leading reforms in the party aimed at building a more open and inclusive movement.”

Labour leadership challenge
BACK TO THE FUTURE?  
THREE YEARS ago Owen Smith was praising Labour for “… leading reforms in the party aimed at building a more open and inclusive movement.” But it was not until Jeremy Corbyn stood for leader that membership began to rocket — from under 300,000 to more than 500,000. Ironically, the party’s National Executive Committee have now barred some 130,000 recently joined members — most of them believed to be Corbyn supporters — from voting in the leadership election.
Photo: Ben Birchall / PA

In Pontypridd Smith thought he’d found a way to galvanise the community:

“Pontypridd Citizens, which will bring together churches and parties, unions and residents, in order to determine local needs and empower local leaders, is launching this year, taking its cue and its form from similar schemes that are energising communities across Britain.”

“It will mark a new beginning in the politics of Pontypridd, and Labour will be at its heart.”

The organisation should be three years old by now.

But Press Gang could find no evidence of Pontypridd Citizens — and when we asked people in the constituency, no-one had never heard of it.

We asked Owen Smith for an explanation.

He didn’t reply.

♦♦♦

WHEN OWEN SMITH was chosen to be the Labour candidate for the 2006 Blaenau Gwent election, he had no experience of grass-roots politics. 

The seat had a troubled past but the party was expecting it to revert to being a Labour stronghold.

Owen Smith probably thought he had a safe seat for the rest of his political career.

In 2005 popular local politician Peter Law stood as an independent.

A former Labour member of the Welsh Assembly, he’d been barred from standing as a candidate for the general election because the party had imposed an all-woman short-list.

Labour nominated trade union leader Maggie Jones.

Many Labour voters deserted the official candidate and chose the independent.

But Law — already diagnosed with brain cancer — died the following year.

His agent, Dai Davies, decided to stand in the by-election that followed.

Labour strategists felt Law’s death had taken the sting out of the rebellion — and that the faithful would return to the fold.

In the early days of the campaign a poll gave Owen a massive 12 per cent lead.

Labour mounted a huge campaign to retake the seat — spending £56,000 to Davies’ £7,000.

But Smith’s organisation was cack-handed.

Telephone canvassers angered voters when they began calling within days of Law’s death.

Activists were bussed in from all over Britain but they knew nothing about Blaenau Gwent.

Smith himself acquired the nickname “Oily”.

Dai Davies was a well-known political figure who outgunned Smith on many fronts.

One of them was Nye Bevan, the political midwife of the NHS, whose old Tredegar constituency was now part of Blaenau Gwent

Smith claimed Nye Bevan as his hero.

But Dai Davies could trump that.

He was a trustee of the Bevan Foundation, a left-wing think tank formed in his memory.

Smith did not become a trustee of the Foundation until after the by-election.

The result was Dai Davies won a narrow victory — by just 2,488 just votes.

It was a bruising experience for Smith and he decided not to seek the nomination again.

Labour regained the seat in 2010.

♦♦♦

THE LIKELIHOOD is that plans were already afoot to shoehorn Owen Smith into the Pontypridd constituency.

Just before Christmas 2009 the sitting MP, Kim Howells, announced he was standing down as the MP.

Soon after, there were press reports that Owen Smith was ringing members of the constituency Labour Party to make his pitch to replace Howells.

Howells is, of course, an old friend of Owen Smith’s father, Dai Smith but Owen Smith denies that the Howells played any part in his selection.

Smith gained the nomination.

IMG_1090
NEPOTISM HOUSE?
OWEN SMITH’S home in his Pontypridd constituency has an intriguing past. Shortly after he was elected in 2010, the MP paid £285,000 for the north wing of the listed building in Llantrisant. It was previously owned by the sister of former BBC boss Menna Richards who bought the property shortly after she formed an independent production company. She won millions of pounds worth of contracts from the Corporation. It was under Menna Richards that Owen Smith made his breakthrough into television — as producer of the politics series Dragon’s Eye in 2000.
Photo: Press Gang

In Pontypridd Labour was united — but there were other problems.

The Lib Dems, led by Nick Clegg, were riding high in the polls — and they had a well-known local candidate in Mike Powell.

When Labour councillor Glynne Holmes had his picture taken with Powell as part of a campaign to save the Post Office in Llantrisant, he found himself the subject of a disciplinary hearing.

He was cleared but it was a sign of how anxious Labour officials were.

In the end, Smith won by just 2,791 votes.

The Western Mail noted:

“There were relieved faces as Labour held on to the Pontypridd seat.”

Smith polled 14,200 votes — a drop of more than 6,000 on Howells’ figure in 2005.

In the 2015 election, when Lib Dem support collapsed, Smith was able to clawback less than 1,400 of the lost votes.

In the ten years from 2005 to 2015, Labour has lost a quarter of its support in Pontypridd.

♦♦♦

EARLY THIS year Owen Smith’s wife, primary school teacher Liz, decided to stand for election to the Llantrisant town council.

There was a vacancy in the Llantrisant ward where she and Owen Smith had lived for five years.

The Labour Party ticket plus the fact that her husband was the MP were expected to secure her election.

But there was another candidate who was far more active in the town.

Louisa Mills, an independent, had started a local charity and was campaigning for a community garden.

She beat Liz Smith by 320 votes to 273.

Owen Smith may not have been as asset in the poll.

Some residents find him arrogant.

One said:

“He’s risen quickly … due to his PR skills and actually believes his own hype.”

“In my view he cares more about power than he does about using that power to help people.

All of this means Owen Smith and his wife have now contested four elections between them.

They’ve lost two.

In the two elections Owen Smith has won, he has presided over a decline in the Labour vote.

What will happen when the right-wing press goes to work on him?

♦♦♦
Published: 7 September 2016
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

Notes
1
The statistics for Owen Smith’s Pontypridd constituency make disturbing reading for Labour. These are are the number of votes cast for Owen Smith’s predecessor Kim Howells and the share of the poll:
1989   20,500   53%
1992   29,700   61%
1997   29,290   64%
2001   23,000   60%
2005   20,900   53%
From a peak of 64% of the vote in 1997 — the landslide year when Tony Blair became Prime Minister — it was down to 53% by 2005.
Owen Smith hasn’t arrested the decline. The result for the two elections he’s fought are:
2010   14,200   39%
2015   15,600   41%
In the face of a Lib Dem resurgence in 2010 he was lucky to hold on to the seat. And even with the collapse of the Lib Dems in 2015 he was able to retrieve only a small proportion of the Labour vote he’d lost in 2010.
2
This the fourth instalment of this investigation. The other articles are:
Owen Smith: Forged By Patronage and Nepotism?
Owen Smith: A Man For All Seasons
BBC Forced To Correct Owen Smith Profile.
Click on a title to read it.
3
Press Gang editor Paddy French declares personal interests in this story:
— in the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith, Owen Smith’s father, was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade
— French is one of the thousands of traditional Labour voters who have joined the party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader. He will be voting for Corbyn in the Leadership election.
4
The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles:
The Son Of The Man From Uncle
In The Name Of The Father?
5
The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.

♦♦♦

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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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THE PEOPLE v. MURDOCH

January 12, 2016

Murdoch_series_head_1

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

David Cameron is back on side.

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

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

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

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

Today, the billionaire is more powerful than ever.

But all is not lost.

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

(Its report can be read here.)

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

It found his actions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It added:

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

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

Ofcom has confirmed it has not considered this evidence.

Press Gang has now asked it to do so …

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

Leveson said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Murdoch denied Crone told him this.

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

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

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

Lord Justice Leveson took a different view.

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

Almost all of the Sun journalists were cleared by juries.

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

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

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

This culture was long-standing.

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

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

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

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

Chris Bryant MP told them paying police was unlawful.

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

One of these was Surrey police detective Simon Quinn.

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

This was his public, penitent face.

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

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

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

There was no mention of this in his statement.

In March 2013 he agreed to meet Sun journalists.

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

The meeting was recorded by one of the reporters.

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

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

Another journalist said:

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

He asked:

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

Murdoch’s reply couldn’t have been clearer:

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

“You didn’t instigate it.”

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

He approved of it.

♦♦♦

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

Any investigation will take months, if not years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MSC ignored the warning.

♦♦♦

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♦♦♦

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

♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

DIAL M FOR MORGAN

June 29, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_4

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

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

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

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

Coulson went to gaol: Brooks was acquitted.

Morgan now insists he knew nothing:

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

But a Press Gang investigation reveals 

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

Morgan didn’t deny the allegation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article was accompanied by an editorial.

This stated:

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

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

The piece continued:

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

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

There was to be no phone hacking scandal in Ireland. 

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both Mackenzie brothers were friends of Morgan’s. 

Press Gang spoke to Karl Brophy last week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

He talked to Mirror special projects editor Oonagh Blackman. 

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

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

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

Nott later told the Leveson Inquiry:

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The firm was run by private eye Jonathan Rees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Invoices generated by Southern Investigations were usually heavily disguised.

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

Four of these invoices include parts of telephone numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

Jonathan Rees is busy.

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

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

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

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

Two Bridges has two aims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rees says

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

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

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

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

Rees loses his temper:

“Well they are printouts …”

“ … this is tiresome, fucking tiresome …”

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

The police pounce on the conspirators.

Rees and the client are given seven year prison sentences.

The corrupt police officer is gaoled for five.

Sid Fillery is not involved. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newton Dunn does not answer our emails.

♦♦♦

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

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

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

He said they hacked openly and frequently.

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

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

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

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

“He was the newspaper.”

‘Nothing happened at the newspaper without him knowing.”

When he gave evidence, Morgan was contemptuous of Hipwell.

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

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

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

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

The shares rocketed in value the next day.

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

In a statement to Leveson, Morgan wrote:

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

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

Leveson, though, found Hipwell a credible witness:

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

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

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

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

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

Leveson was caustic:

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

The investigation continues.

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

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

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

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

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

The judgment also revealed that the Mirror papers:

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

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

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

♦♦♦

© Press Gang
Published: 29 June 2015

♦♦♦

NOTES

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
A SLICKER FULL OF LIES
THE STORY of Piers Morgan’s involvement in the “Slickergate Affair” of 2000 makes sobering reading. There is evidence that Morgan sacrificed two of his journalists to save his own skin — and that senior Mirror Group managers were in on the plot. The attempt to spin the truth of what happened even involved lying to Lord Leveson …  Part five of A Pretty Despicable Man tells the story of a deliberate corporate cover-up  … 

 ♦♦♦

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CORRECTIONS
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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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THE MACUR REVIEW: A LOSS OF CONFIDENCE

March 10, 2015

IT’S NOW more than two years since David Cameron announced a Review of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal.

Since then the Review — headed by Lady Justice Macur — has slipped beneath the media radar.

But after 26 months without any sign of a report, concern is growing that a whitewash may be on the way.

One of the major critics of the original Tribunal, chaired by the late Sir Ronald Waterhouse, has now withdrawn from the process.

Press Gang’s sister website, Rebecca Television, has asked Lady Macur to withdraw its statements from the Review.

The following article, posted on the Rebecca Television website this morning, explains the reasons why …

♦♦♦

THE MACUR REVIEW: A LOSS OF CONFIDENCE

rebecca_logo_04

REBECCA TELEVISION has withdrawn from the Macur Review of the 1996-1999 North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal.

In a letter to Home Secretary Theresa May, Editor Paddy French expressed concern at the delay in publishing a report.

It’s more than two years since the Review was set up.

French said: “the passage of time has seriously eroded my confidence in the process.”

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the review in November 2012.

THERESA MAY WHEN THE Home Secretary made a statement in the Commons in November 2012 about the North Wales child abuse scandal, she was asked by Labour MP Paul Flynn to examine claims made by Rebecca Television. She told him the inquiry "will, indeed, be looking at that historical evidence. That is part of the job they will be doing." Photo: PA

THERESA MAY
WHEN THE Home Secretary made a statement in the Commons in November 2012 about the North Wales child abuse scandal, she was asked by Labour MP Paul Flynn to examine claims made by Rebecca Television. She told him the police “will, indeed, be looking at that historical evidence. That is part of the job they will be doing.”
Photo: PA

It followed the BBC Newsnight report which identified Lord McAlpine as a paedophile involved in the North Wales child abuse scandal.

When the allegation was later shown to have been a mistake, the government decided to carry on with the Review.

In November 2012 Justice Secretary Chris Grayling appointed Lady Justice Macur to lead it. 

Today, 26 months later, her report is unfinished and is unlikely to be complete before the election …

♦♦

WHEN JUSTICE Minister Chris Grayling set up the Macur Review, he gave it two tasks.

The first was to look at the “scope” of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal, chaired by retired High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse.

The second was to see if “any specific allegations of child abuse falling within the terms of reference were not investigated …”

Lady Macur was to make recommendations if she felt any further action was needed.

Long before the Macur Review, Rebecca Television was arguing — in an investigation called The Case Of The Flawed Tribunal — that the inquiry had not been fit for purpose.

SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE THE RETIRED High Court judge chaired the £14 million Tribunal which held more than 200 days of hearings and heard the testimony of 264. But one important witness was never heard ...

SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE
THE RETIRED High Court judge chaired the £14 million Tribunal which held more than 200 days of hearings and heard the testimony of 264 people. But one important witness was never heard …

One of the key cases that led to that conclusion was the way the Tribunal handled the case of convicted paedophile John Allen.

Allen and his family owned the Bryn Alyn complex of private children’s homes in the Wrexham area.

Between 1974 and 1991 local authorities all over England and Wales paid him more than £30 million to take care of some of their more difficult children.

In February 1995 — a year before the Tribunal was set up — Allen had been gaoled for six years after a jury convicted him of indecently assaulting six boys in his care.

But the Waterhouse Tribunal did not investigate Allen properly.

It prevented a key witness from giving evidence that he had reported serious allegations of sexual abuse against Allen more than a decade before he was brought to book.

Not only did the Tribunal suppress his evidence, it also censored television journalists from reporting what he had to say.

In 1997, while the Tribunal was sitting, officials learned that the broadcaster HTV was preparing a programme about Allen.

The channel’s current affairs programme, Wales This Week, had interviewed John Allen’s number two, Des Frost.

Frost told journalists that in the early 1980s he had gone to the police about allegations that Allen was abusing boys.

This was more than ten years before Allen was finally convicted.

He claimed to have contacted detectives in Cheshire because he was concerned that if he went to the North Wales Police John Allen might get to hear of it.

Frost feared he might lose his job.

DES FROST THE FORMER social worker and lay preacher, John Allen's No 2 in charge of finance, was never called to give evidence to the Tribunal. Frost claimed he reported allegations against Allen many years before the paedophile was brought to book. The failure to test his evidence means the Tribunal's conclusion that "there was no significant omission by the North Wales Police in investigating the complaints of abuse to children in care" is suspect.

DES FROST
THE FORMER social worker and lay preacher — joint second-in-command at Bryn Alyn — was never called to give evidence to the Tribunal. Frost claimed he reported allegations against Allen many years before the paedophile was brought to book. The failure to test his evidence means the Tribunal’s conclusion that “there was no significant omission by the North Wales Police in investigating the complaints of abuse to children in care” is suspect.

When the Tribunal heard that Frost had been interviewed by Wales This Week, officials warned the programme’s lawyer not to reveal any new allegations.

This would be considered contempt of court.

Journalists believed that this was because the Tribunal was planning to call Frost as a witness and hear his testimony.

One of those reporters was Rebecca Television editor Paddy French who was working for the programme as a freelance at the time.

The allegations were removed from the programme.

In the same week that broadcasters were muzzled, North Wales Police took a statement from Frost.

Frost believed they were acting on behalf of the Tribunal — but the Tribunal only employed ex-police officers from other other forces.

Frost was never called to give evidence to the Tribunal.

The Macur Review was asked to see if “any specific allegations of child abuse falling within the terms of reference were not investigated …” .

Clearly, Des Frost’s allegation that he reported child abuse by John Allen in the early 1980s was not investigated by the Tribunal.

The fact that the Tribunal also prevented HTV from broadcasting his allegations deepens suspicion.

JOHN ALLEN THE OWNER of a profitable string of private children's homes in the Wrexham area, Allen is one of the central characters in the North Wales child abuse scandal. He groomed young boys — abusing many — and extended his influence on some of them by providing an "after-care" service in London and Brighton.

JOHN ALLEN
THE OWNER of a profitable string of private children’s homes in the Wrexham area, Allen is one of the central characters in the North Wales child abuse scandal. He groomed young boys — abusing many — and extended his influence with some of them by providing an “after-care” service in London and Brighton.

Was there collusion by the Tribunal, or some of its officials, and North Wales Police to suppress Frost’s testimony to protect the reputation of the force?

♦♦♦

AT THE same time the Macur Review was set up, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a parallel police inquiry.

This became Operation Pallial, carried out by the newly-created National Crime Agency.

Like Macur, Pallial was to carry out an initial assessment, followed by recommendations.

Palliall was asked to “assess any information recently received” about historic child abuse in care and “review the historic police investigations into such matters”.

In stark contrast to the Macur Review, Pallial completed its review in just six months.

In April 2013, it presented its initial report.

It found “no evidence of systemic or institutional misconduct by North Wales Police …”

NORTH WALES POLICE OPERATION PALLIAL cleared the force of any historic misconduct in relation to its investigation of child abuse allegations. But did Operation Pallial examine the circumstances which led to Des Frost being interviewed by its officers in 1997 — the week broadcasters at HTV were being censored by the Tribunal? In 2010 Rebecca Television asked the current chief constable, Mark Polin, this question but he never answered. We also wrote to the officer who carried out the interview. He didn't reply, either. An official complaint against this officer found that the response should come from a senior figure. In the end, there was no explanation from anyone in the force.  Photo; Rebecca Television

NORTH WALES POLICE
OPERATION PALLIAL cleared the force of any historic misconduct in relation to its investigation of child abuse allegations. But did Operation Pallial examine the circumstances which led to Des Frost being interviewed by its officers in 1997 — the week broadcasters at HTV were being censored by the Tribunal? In 2009 Rebecca Television asked the current chief constable, Mark Polin, about why this interview took place and what happened to the officer’s report. He didn’t answer. We also wrote to the officer who took the statement from Frost. He didn’t reply. An official complaint against this officer found he had raised the issue with his superiors  expecting that “ownership to respond … rest with someone higher in the organisation.” No response was ever received … 
Photo: Rebecca Television

But it found “significant evidence of systemic and serious sexual and physical abuse …” and recommended a full-scale criminal investigation.

Since then, Pallial has charged 15 people with child abuse offences while a further 18 remain on bail while investigations continue.

One of those charged was John Allen who stood trial for the second time.

In December 2014 he was gaoled for life after a jury convicted him of abusing 18 boys and one girl, aged between seven and 15.

The offences were committed between in the 1970s and 1980s.

The allegations Des Frost claimed he brought to the attention of the police date from the 1970s …

♦♦♦

THE MACUR Review was also asked to look at the “scope” of the Waterhouse Tribunal.

The Tribunal was established in 1996 by William Hague who was in the Cabinet as Welsh Secretary.

He persuaded John Major to allow him to set up the inquiry, the first ever Tribunal into child abuse.

But there were conditions.

Thatcher did not want the proceedings to spill over into England — she feared it would become an over-arching inquiry into child abuse throughout England and Wales.

(This is what is happening — nearly two decades later — with the current major inquiry headed by New Zealand Judge Lowell Goddard .)

As a result, the remit of the Waterhouse Tribunal was tightly drawn by the Thatcher government.

BRYN ALYN  DURING THE Tribunal, John Allen admitted that he had spent £180,000 in presents for some of the boys at Bryn Alyn, both during and after their time in care. On one occasion, police questioned him about a letter addressed to him which had been found in the pocket of an ex-resident. The tone of the letter — which has disappeared — suggested blackmail but Allen managed to reassure police that there was an innocent explanation.

BRYN ALYN
DURING THE Tribunal, John Allen admitted that he had spent £180,000 in presents for some of the boys at Bryn Alyn, both during and after their time in care. On one occasion, the Tribunal heard, English police found a letter addressed to him which had been found in the pocket of an ex-resident. The tone of the letter — which has disappeared — suggested blackmail but North Wales Police decided there was an innocent explanation …

It was “to enquire into the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974”.

In other words, it was restricted to North Wales.

This prevented the Tribunal from examining another deeply disturbing aspect of the John Allen affair.

As previously noted, John Allen was paid more than £30 million to look after children in his care.

Much of this money did not go into conventional child care.

Some of it went on an expensive country mansion, a villa in the south of France and a half share in a Mediterranean yacht called Dualité.

Allen also used enormous sums of petty cash which were never properly accounted for.

But, significantly, a slice of this money also went into an informal “after-care” system for selected boys when they left Bryn Alyn.

This included the provision of accommodation in Brighton and London.

Some of the young men who lived in these properties became homosexual prostitutes.

During his first trial in February 1995, John Allen went “missing” for a week.

He turned up in Oxford claiming he’d suffered a nervous breakdown.

He claimed he could not remember anything about the previous seven days.

During the week he was missing, a former Bryn Alyn resident, Lee Johns, was found dead at his home in Brighton.

Johns had given evidence during the trial that he had been abused by Allen.

LEE JOHNS A TROUBLED inmate of Bryn Alyn, Lee Johns became a rent boy after he left the children's home. He gave evidence in the trial of John Allen in 1995 but he was found dead in his Brighton flat shortly afterwards. The inquest returned a verdict of suicide.

WATERHOUSE TRIBUNAL
THE FORMER council chamber in North Wales used by the Tribunal during its public hearings. One issue the Tribunal could not investigate was the significance of John Allen’s informal “after-care” service for some ex-residents in London and Brighton. Events outside of North Wales were forbidden territory …  

The jury later decided that Johns was one of the six boys Allen had indecently assaulted.

The inquest verdict on Lee Johns was suicide — but his family are convinced he did not take his own life.

Three years earlier, Lee Johns had been seriously injured in a catastrophic fire at a flat in Hove.

Five people died in the blaze which had been started deliberately.

Among those who died was Lee’s younger brother Adrian, another former resident of Bryn Alyn.

Both Lee and Adrian had previously lived in properties provided by John Allen.

The man who started the blaze killed himself a few days after the fire.

These events were not examined by the Tribunal because they took place outside North Wales.

Lady Macur was asked to assess if the “scope” of the Waterhouse Tribunal was adequate.

Again, the questions surrounding John Allen’s informal “after-care” service in London and Brighton system show it was not.

♦♦♦

THERE IS another reason why Rebecca Television believes the Waterhouse Tribunal was suspect.

In 2000, shortly after his report was published, Paddy French had a confidential three hour meeting with Sir Ronald Waterhouse at his home near Ross-on-Wye.

French laid out much of the criticism which was later revealed in the Rebecca Television articles.

The meeting was off-the-record.

It was not until Waterhouse died in May 2011 that French was able to reveal what had taken place.

SECRET CORRESPONDENCE SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE exchanged letters with Paddy French after their meeting in 2000. But he insisted that their meeting and the letters remain secret. It wasn't until his death in May 2011 that French was free to reveal what had happened between them.

SECRET CORRESPONDENCE
SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE exchanged letters with Paddy French after their meeting in 2000. But he insisted that the interview and the letters remain secret. It wasn’t until his death in May 2011 that French was free to reveal what had happened between them.

“I felt he was shocked by what I told him,” said French, “particularly the allegations concerning Des Frost.”

“But was he shocked because he and the Tribunal had been found out — or was it because he had been wrongly persuaded Frost had nothing to say?”

“He wouldn’t say.”

In 2006 Waterhouse attended a function and had a revealing conversation with Welsh Assembly member Mark Isherwood.

“He told me quite clearly,” Isherwood said, “that he now accepted that documentation had been withheld from the Tribunal which he chaired,”

But whatever Waterhouse knew or felt, he took to the grave.

♦♦♦

REBECCA TELEVISION warned the Macur Review it was considering pulling out of the process.

On February 18 editor Paddy French wrote to say he was “considering withdrawing my statements” to the Review and writing to the Home Secretary to explain why such a “drastic step” was necessary.

“It’s clear to me that the Review will not be complete by the election and, by the time the new administration is in place and able to take a decision, we will be into the autumn”.

“This creates a surreal situation where a Review, designed to see if there ought to be a re-examination of the territory explored by Waterhouse, will have taken almost as long as the original Tribunal itself.”

LORD LEVESON BRIAN LEVESON managed to hold public hearings where more than 300 witnesses gave evidence and produce a 2,000 page, three volume report in just 17 months. The Macur Review is still not complete after 26 months.  Photo: PA

LORD LEVESON
BRIAN LEVESON managed to hold public hearings where more than 300 witnesses gave evidence and produce a 2,000 page, three volume report in just 17 months. The Macur Review is still not complete after 26 months.
Photo: PA

To date, the Review has taken 26 months — the Tribunal was complete in 39 months.

Operation Pallial, as has already been pointed out, produced its initial review within six months.

Lord Leveson, who also had the problem of a parallel criminal investigation to contend with, held a long series of public hearings and still managed to produce a three volume report in less than a year and a half.

Lady Macur answered by saying she had seen and “noted” the contents of the February 18 email.

On February 20 Paddy French emailed to ask her “to formally remove my statements from the Review’s report.”

He also asked her to “include my reasons … in the Review’s report when it is finally complete.”

On February 24 a spokeswoman for Lady Macur emailed to say:

“The Judge has asked me to let you know that she has found no reason to refer to your submissions specifically in her report and therefore it will not be necessary to indicate why she has removed them.”

“The report will indicate that you have made contact with the review and that you attended an interview with Lady Justic Macur.”

On March 2 French wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May.

LADY MACUR A JUDGE in the Family Division of the High Court when she was appointed, she is now one of the senior members of the judiciary. Nine months after the Review was set up, she was appointed one of the 42 Court of Appeal judges. The position brings with a seat on the Privy Council . Photo: judiciary.gov.uk

LADY MACUR
A JUDGE in the Family Division of the High Court when she was appointed, she is now one of the senior members of the judiciary. Nine months after the Review was set up, she was appointed one of the 42 Court of Appeal judges. The position brings with a seat on the Privy Council.
Photo: judiciary.gov.uk

He noted that in a November 2012 press release Lady Macur had said:

“I am grateful to be assured that sufficient resources will be made available to me to conduct this Review which will be thorough and expeditious.”

French said:

“I feel the Review has left itself open to the charge that, whatever else it is, it is not ‘expeditious’.”

He added:

“I would now ask you to consider referring my concerns — and those of others — directly to Justice Lowell Goddard.”

Goddard is the chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

A copy of French’s letter was sent to Justice Minister Chris Grayling, who commissioned the Macur Review, to Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb and to Lady Macur herself.

No responses had been received by the time this article was posted.

♦♦♦

WHAT IS deeply disturbing about the Macur Review comes down to one single point.

Lady Macur must have been in a position to know which way her report was going to go within a year.

If, at that point, she had concluded the Waterhouse Tribunal had failed to carry out its task properly, then she was in a position to produce a report calling for an inquiry to take the process further.

Her report did not have to be totally comprehensive — all it needed to do was to present the evidence gathered to support that conclusion.

The work of comprehensively sifting all the evidence could have been left to the new inquiry.

In other words, a report calling for a new inquiry could have been published within a year or eighteen months.

If, however, she had concluded that the Waterhouse Report could not be challenged, then a different scenario presents itself.

She would then want to produce a more detailed report demonstrating that the criticisms of the Tribunal — including those presented by Rebecca Television — were unfounded.

This would inevitably take longer.

There might, though, be compelling reasons for dragging the process out even longer.

The first is that, if the Macur Review published a report clearing Waterhouse, it is likely there would  considerable criticism.

LOST IN CARE A massive 937 page report — but was it fit for purpose?

LOST IN CARE
THE MASSIVE 937 page report of the Waterhouse Tribunal — but was it fit for purpose? As well as the failure to hear the Des Frost allegations, Rebecca Television also pointed out shortcomings in the inquiry’s handling of freemasonry.

Such criticism might persuade Home Secretary Theresa May to refer the Waterhouse issue to the new Goddard Inquiry.

Theresa May has proved a tough Home Secretary.

She appears to want to avoid any suggestion that’s there’s been any kind of cover-up on her watch.

This leads to speculation that Lady Macur and the judicial establishment of England and Wales might not be happy presenting the Review report with her still in office.

In these circumstances, perhaps, it might be better for Lady Macur to take so long producing her report that by the time it was published a more docile Home Secretary might be in place.

The Waterhouse issue could then be quietly laid to rest …

♦♦♦
Published: 11 March 2015
© Rebecca Television
♦♦♦

NOTES
1
Paddy French’s statement to the Review was dated 13 January 2013.
He met Lady Macur at the Royal Courts of Justice on 5 March 2013.

2
More details of the Rebecca Television criticism of the North Wales inquiry — The Case Of The Flawed Tribunal — can be found here on the Investigations page.

♦♦♦

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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 …

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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. 

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Published: 27 January 2015
© Press Gang
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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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