Last week’s Panorama, Cops, Criminals, Corruption: The Inside Story helped shed some light into the corrupt links between underworld criminals, corrupt police and private investigators around the murder of Daniel Morgan. But there is a fourth element which partly explains why this murder has been so difficult to investigate – and that’s the role of the fourth estate: the media.
The Origins of the Police-Press-Private Investigator Nexus
Morgan the Whistle Blower
In the weeks leading up to his brutal murder in March 1987, multiple sources suggest that private investigator Daniel Morgan had discovered extensive police corruption and was about to take his findings to an outside force, or the press.
Daniel had several press contacts. He had been in contact with two Mirror journalists (including Alastair Campbell), helped BBC Panorama in its libel case around ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’ and also passed on stories to Private Eye. Rumours that Daniel was going to expose police corruption to the press emerged during the Inquest in 1988, but were largely disregarded at the time.
I can exclusively reveal that Derek Haslam, the former CID officer who appeared on last Monday’s Panorama, was one of the sources of this allegation.
Weeks before Daniel was axed to death Haslam says he met his friend and fellow police officer Alan ‘Taffy’ Holmes for a curry in Thornton Heath. During that meal Haslam says Holmes told him “a massive story concerning police corruption he was going to sell to the press.”
“When I asked him what it involved, he told me that it concerned the importation of Cocaine into the UK from Miami .. . He went on to say the story was worth at least £250,000 to the right newspaper. When I pointed out that it was very dangerous going to the press on his own, he replied, “Daniel will do the negotiations”.”
Haslam says he dismissed Holmes’ story until Daniel’s murder, and passed on the account to the head of the murder squad, Detective Superintendent Douglas Campbell. (Presumably the details of this alleged tip off could be confirmed in the paperwork of the original investigation.) Taffy Holmes would also meet a violent end that summer, apparently committing suicide as the result of a corruption investigation – Operation Russell – into his friend and senior officer Commander Ray Adams.
Haslam also claims that, when recruited to go undercover to report back on Southern investigations a decade later in 1997, he was told by his handler that two men resembling Daniel and Taffy met the News of the World’s crime reporter Alex Marunchak. Marunchak has consistently denied he had ever heard anything about Daniel Morgan until the murder in 1987.
But Haslam’s claims confirm various police statements made by Bryan Madagan, the boss of a large detective agency where Daniel and Jonathan Rees both worked. He gives a more plausible description of the amount of money the press was alleged to offering – £40,000 – and names a particular journalist at the News of the World.
Marunchak the Police Expert
Any examination of the archives will show that Marunchak’s writing for News of the World in the late 80s were usually stories drawn from ‘Scotland Yard’ sources or police officers. A year before Daniel’s murder he even touched on the role of private investigators, in an article from May 1986 suggesting a private eye firm was using blackmail to access the police national computer – one of the standard techniques of Southern Investigations in the years to come.
Whether Marunchak met Daniel or not before the murder, two key pieces of evidence place the News of the World journalist very close to the story within weeks.
In his book Hack Attack, Nick Davies describes one of Marunchak’s top chief police sources, former detective John Ross.
I can exclusively reveal that Marunchak’s close ally John Ross was invited into the Daniel Morgan Murder Incident Room in Sydenham in early April 1987, the night before the murder squad made their first arrests of Jonathan Rees and Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery. The detective who invited Ross in was subsequently disciplined for the breach.
According to a book keeper, Marjorie Williams, who started doing accounts for Southern Investigations weeks after the murder, Rees and Fillery quickly formed a lucrative business arrangement with News of the World billing thousands of pounds a month in many small cash payments which would be collected directly from Marunchak.
If these invoices were still available in the archives of News International, they might prove if these financial arrangements predate the murder.
Despite his intense interest in Southern Investigations, Marunchak failed to write anything about the notorious murder for two years, even though the shocking allegations at the inquest that Rees and Fillery organised Daniel’s death were extensively covered in the rest of the press, even making the front page of theNews of the World’s sister paper, the Sun.
The only time Marunchak covered the Daniel Morgan murder was two years later, with an account of the background which relies heavily on Jonathan Rees.
Nowhere does Marunchak declare he now has an intense financial interest with the former murder suspect. This relationship would carry on for the next two decades.
News of the World Derails Morgan Murder Inquiries
Fast forwarding over the next few years, the ties between criminality, corrupt policing and elements of the British press soon became inextricably entangled. As Alastair Morgan described it at a meeting of various justice campaigns in the House of Lords:
“When the police investigator took over my brother’s company with the prime suspect you’d think the British press would be scratching their heads and saying: ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’ But not a bit of it… They saw it as a business opportunity.”
Crimes for Journalism: A Business Opportunity
By 1999, when a bug was installed in the premises of Southern Investigations, Rees and Fillery were revealed as one-shop stop for illicit information because of their ability to blag, bug, burgle and bribe cops.
They earned £116,000 from the News of the World in 96/97 alone, and the subsequent police report from the probe documented at least 30 crimes committed in collaboration with journalists, naming three major figures.
Top of the list was Alex Marunchak, followed by his former News of the Worldcolleague Gary Jones (who had then moved to the Mirror) and another famous News International journalist who cannot be named at the moment for legal reasons.
Soon after Commandeer Bob Quick submitted this report on journalistic crimes for further action in February 2000, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police John Stevens had lunch with Alex Marunchak and his new editor of theNews of the World, Rebekah Brooks. This looks like it took place in late March.
No action seems to have been taken against Marunchak who was now a senior editor at the Sunday tabloid, despite the shocking Quick report.
The Cook Hames Surveillance
After fifteen years of fighting police cover-up and press disinterest, pressure from the Morgan family finally led to a fourth covert investigation into the Daniel Morgan murder – Operation Abelard.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook was scheduled to appear on BBC Crimewatch on 23 June 2002 to launch the overt side of the inquiry.
But the day before his appearance, as Cook’s wife, the police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames revealed last month in Parliament, phone interception revealed that Fillery had rung Marunchak and told him about Cook’s involvement. According to Nick Davies, Marunchak had agreed to “sort Cook out.”
Marunchak then approached News of the World’s then news editor Greg Miskiw “to authorise surveillance on Cook and Hames… because one of them was having an affair.”
As revealed on Byline exclusively last year, Miskiw was immediately suspicious. Marunchak was by then the Ireland editor of the paper, it was “very unlike Alex to give away a story to the news department,” Miskiw told Byline.
Cook and Hames were being targeted by Marunchak because his “team” – Southern Investigations – was now the subject of a fourth murder inquiry. Two News International hired vans, one driven by photographer Bradley Page, were soon following Cook, Hames and their young family outside their Surrey homes.
Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the phone hacking scandal, was tasked by ‘Greg’ to find out more information on the two police officers.
I can now exclusively reveal that Glenn Mulcaire also pours cold water on the pretext of an ‘affair’ for investigating Cook and Hames.
Looking over his notes from 14 July 2002, Mulcaire confirms that his tasking was primarily for tracing addresses, and financial information relating to bank accounts, payroll numbers and mortgages.
It would have been immediately apparent the couple were married from their joint account details, so the allegation they were having an affair with each other would have been quickly discounted.
There is also no mention of the third party in the notes, which leads Mulcaire to discount the idea it was a ‘relationship’ inquiry. “No affair features,” he says, and it has all the hallmarks of a financial investigation.
So what exactly was the News of the World looking for on Cook and Hames? Was it designed to upset or intimidate the murder inquiry? Or a more serious attempt to dig dirt or set the lead detective up?
If so, this would not be the first time for Jonathan Rees and Southern Investigation . As revealed in sworn evidence at the inquest into the murder at Southwark Coroner’s court in April 1988, Rees had already threatened to target the top senior investigating officers at the top of the first murder inquiry.
Whatever the motive, the might of the News of the World’s surveillance and hacking was now being turned on the police, on behalf of the murder suspects.
Rebekah Brooks and the Subversion of the Fourth Murder Inquiry
On discovering his family had been put under surveillance by News International in July 2002, DCS Dave Cook re-examined the hitherto unknown links betweenNews of the World and Southern Investigations
In August that year his Abelard team put in an immediate request to the DPS department of the Met for an urgent investigation into links between Jonathan Rees and Alex Marunchak. But the DPS did not act on their advice.
The day after the request was submitted in late August, Rebekah Brooks and her then husband Ross Kemp had a long dinner at the Ivy Club with Commissioner John Stevens and his wife.
Two weeks later the two couples returned for a second dinner at the club, accompanied by Met press officer supremo Dick Fedorcio. Around this time Marunchak was promoted to editor of the News of the World’s Irish edition.
Armed with evidence linking Marunchak and Rees going back to the year of Daniel Morgan’s murder, Cook then confronted Brooks at New Scotland Yard on Thursday 9 January 2003 along with Commander Andre Baker and Feodorcio.
At the meeting Cook recalls Brooks being very “defensive” about Marunchak, saying he was a good editor and improving the sales of the Irish edition of News of the World . But she promised to look into it further before she joined Commissioner Stevens at a separate drinks reception in Scotland Yard.
The next day as Byline revealed last year, Brooks met the News of the Worldmanaging editor, Stuart Kuttner, to discuss the matter. Byline can now reveal that sources claim a third party also at the meeting 10 January 2003 about the subversion of the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry – Brooks’ deputy Andy Coulson.
Over the following weekend, to Brooks’ great surprise (as she revealed at the Hacking Trial) she was told by News International chief executive Les Hinton that she would immediately move to run the daily Sun newspaper, while Andy Coulson would take over the helm at News of the World.
Andy Coulson and the Subversion of the Fifth Murder Inquiry
Despite ample warnings, News of the World continued working with Rees and Fillery for the next five years with both parties trying to undermine further Daniel Morgan investigations.
Bryan Madagan says Marunchak visited Rees several times while he was in prison from 2000-2005, convicted of perverting the course of justice for fitting up a mother with cocaine during a custody battle
Derek Haslam claims that Rees asked him to call the Inland Revenue to discover financial details about a previous partner of Jacqui Hames in 2003. He never did this but neither was any warning ever passed on from his reports to Cook or Hames despite the fact they were both still serving police officers.
Impounded during a police raid in 2003, Sid Fillery’s computer contained 106 references to News of the World and 97 mentions of Alex Marunchak. One document appears to be reporting back to the News of the World executive on the results of a burglary – a “sortie into the address of the woman concerning Ascot.” Another seems to show Southern Investigations asking Marunchak to track down the “keeper details” for a car.
On release from parole in December 2005, intelligence reports allege Rees was certain he would be re-employed by News of the World, despite his criminal conviction and suspect status in the Daniel Morgan murder.
Rees said he planned to make an “awful lot of money” from his “insider” police stories and his connection to Marunchak who was “still highly thought of by Murdoch and can do no wrong.” By January next year the invoices were rolling in. Rees would carry on working for the Sunday tabloid for nearly another three years.
Given that his relationship to Marunchak was flagged up at a meeting with Brooks three years previously, how could Stuart Kuttner fail to notice his name on the invoices? Especially since Kuttner had been in written negotiations via Marunchak with Southern Investigations about their large annual bills in the late 90s.
And since Andy Coulson was most likely at the handover meeting with Kuttner and Brooks, how could he fail to aware of the concerns about Rees and Marunchak?
Despite all these warnings, the collusion between News of the World and the murder suspects would continue to derail the fifth and final Daniel Morgan Murder inquiry.
At the beginning of April 2006, a top secret meeting of Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair’s management team had decided to launch another investigation into this now notorious and highly sensitive murder. But almost immediately the information was leaked to the murder suspects.
An intelligence report on Jonathan Rees suggested that Alex Marunchak had confirmed a leak from Commissioner Blair’s “inner sanctum” about the decision, with the previous Met Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, who was by then a regular columnist for News of the World. (There is no suggestion Stevens was the source of the leak.)
Whatever the validity of this intelligence report, within two months there were further reports that Alex Marunchak and John Ross (see above) were trying to hawk a story of Jacqui Hames’ business interests around Fleet Street, in order to compromise her husband Dave Cook, in charge of the fifth murder inquiry.
(Cook also suspected he could have been a victim of email hacking. Around this time, Rees was passing on the fruit of an eblaster Trojan Horse to pass stories onto Marunchak and also to expose Haslam’s undercover role.)
Rees’ employment at News of the World would survive both Alex Marunchak’s departure from the paper in 2006 and Andy Coulson’s resignation in the wake of the first phone hacking scandal in 2007. It only ceased with Rees’ third arrest in November 2008 on suspicion of murder, over 21 years after the Daniel Morgan was axed to death.
How the Daniel Morgan Murder underpins the Urgency of Leveson II
When he set up the original Leveson Inquiry in 2011 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a second part of the inquiry once all the criminal trials and police investigations were over, since so much could not be discussed for fear of contempt of court.
Much of the underlying material for the first Leveson Inquiry into the relations between the Press, Police, Politicians and the Public concerned the dark arts of Southern Investigations and the role of police corruption in the Daniel Morgan murder. Both Alex Marunchak and John Rees were being investigated for computer hacking at this time, so any evidence about them would have also been prejudicial.
(In September 2015 the CPS dropped the email hacking charges against Rees and Marunchak on the technicality that the relevant part of the Computer Misuse Act which allowed a six month time limit to start of prosecution. In civil legal admissions, News International has conceded the computer hacking took place ten years ago.)
Though the Morgan family has campaigned for decades for a full judicial inquiry in the cover up of Daniel’s murder, they accepted the more limited ‘research based’ approach of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, even though it has no powers to subpoena witnesses, because of the backstop of Leveson Two, which would have those powers.
As Alastair Morgan told the Guardian:
The Prime Minister made a solemn promise to the Dowler family to implement Leveson I when it emerged their murdered teenage daughter had been the victim of phone hacking. He has an even greater responsibility to the Morgan family after 30 years of much more serious crimes around the murder of Daniel to follow through with Leveson II.
This article originally appeared here in Byline. It is reproduced here with the author’s consent.
If you have corrections, queries or wish to comment in the piece itself, please contact Peter Jukes – email@example.com. Meanwhile, if you have information that could be relevant to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, you can contact them here.
Byline journalists depend upon reader contributions. If you like the article you just read, please make a pledge to the writer, so that they can keep on doing their valuable work. If you have any questions about any of our journalists, or about Byline – the world’s leading crowdfunded journalism site by traffic – please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org