Socialist Worker

Who killed Daniel Morgan? Corrupt cops, journalists and a south London murder

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2555

Private investigator Daniel Morgan was found dead in a pub car park in Sydenham, south London

Private investigator Daniel Morgan was found dead in a pub car park in Sydenham, south London (Pic: Blink Publishing)


Daniel Morgan was murdered on 10 March 1987. His body was found in a car park in south east London with an axe buried in his head.

His brother Alastair has been fighting ever since to get the truth about what happened.

Daniel was a private investigator. Five police investigations have failed to convict anyone of his murder.

The police admitted to corrupt practices by cops in the first of the investigations.

In the aftermath of the murder a clandestine network was revealed, involving conmen, bent coppers, corrupt civil servants, impersonators and computer experts sub-contracted by private detectives.

And in the shadows were the people who do the establishment’s dirty work.

Alastair’s account, Untold, is published this week, co-written with Peter Jukes.

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes £14.99 (Blink Publishing)

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes £14.99 (Blink Publishing)


Alastair told Socialist Worker, “It’s a great relief to have the book. It’s a complicated story and I did hate writing it. It was hard to revisit some of it.

“But for me there are still unresolved areas, very worrying and unresolved areas.

“I think Dan’s case compromised the Met to the very top of the tree. And that makes me very uncomfortable. The way the country’s going at the moment, the idea of having a police service that’s compromised like this. It doesn’t sit easily with me.”

Investigation

Daniel’s firm Southern Investigations was taken over by the man who was supposed to be heading the investigation into his murder, Detective Sergeant Sidney Fillery.

Southern became the News of the World (NotW) newspaper’s chosen firm for investigations, legal and illegal.

As part of one of the numerous failed investigations into Morgan’s death (see box), anti-corruption officers bugged the offices of Southern Investigations.

Police have had the tapes for over 20 years—but they still haven’t all been transcribed.

Alastair said, “I think this is institutionalised corruption. We’ve got police misleading the family, police misleading Home Office ministers, police misleading parliament. A whole network of links between senior journalists from the NotW and senior police officers around this case.

“And the perverting of the course of justice which was going on here, people mostly don’t know about. 

Jonathon Rees ran Southern investigations and was the point man for running a network of corrupt police officers. He met Daniel in the pub on the night of his death.

Alastair (right) and Daniel Morgan

Alastair (right) and Daniel Morgan (Pic: Blink Publishing)


Newspapers, not just those published by News International (NI), used Rees's Southern Investigations, to find out secret information.

The NotW paid him over £150,000 to obtain information.

When he was editor of the NotW Andy Coulson repeatedly hired Rees–even after he was convicted for planting drugs. Coulson went on to become David Cameron’s spin doctor.

Alex Marunchak was chief crime reporter for the NotW and later the paper’s Irish editor.

Rees’s relationship with Marunchak was so close that they both registered companies at the same address.

Criminality

Rees made no secret of his criminality. He once told a Daily Mirror journalist to be careful what they wrote down “because what we’re doing is illegal, isn’t it?”

The book contains new details on the case, including information on the immediate aftermath of the murder.

Also new is, Alastair adds, “The interaction between the senior levels of the police and senior levels of the News of the World, the various meetings, the timing of those meetings, what happened after them and what happened before them, that’s the really interesting bit.

“We’re fighting against not just the police but all the tabloids as well. I had no idea of the magnitude of the problem for 20 years.

“I’m still learning new things. Police corruption needs to be looked at very closely and in particular this fusion between police and media corruption.”

The book comes after the success of a podcast about the case. Alastair was surprised by its success, “The podcast was a huge deal. I was amazed – I didn’t expect it to create the kind of interest it did. I’ve written years ago and nobody was interested. I had no idea it would be as popular as it turned out to be.

“I found it difficult when I was writing to be the journalist and the brother at the same time. Peter has very neatly taken the cool, journalistic position out of my hands.”

Ongoing criminal cases were used as an excuse for the Leveson inquiry into the ethics of the media to put off looking at the relationship between the media and the cops. Alastair is keen to see what is known as Leveson Two.

Justice

He said, “We had the News of the World interfering in a 2002 investigation into the case.

“To me, it’s quite obvious that was an attempt to pervert the course of justice. No other sane person can look at that and think of it in any other way.”

The News of the World hired vans to do surveillance on the senior cop investigating the Morgan case.

“But where was the outrage?” asks Alastair. “When it came up at the Leveson inquiry there was next to nothing in the press. Everybody was going after that bloody horse the cops lent Rebekah Brooks.”

He said, “One of the things that bugs me the most is media ownership in this country. That’s why I think that book is important to show the dirty underbelly of what’s been going on.

Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan (Pic: PA)


“You’ve got a handful of billionaires who own 80 percent of the press in this country. I think it’s a deeply unhealthy situation, it’s leading the country in a very bad direction.

“That’s another reason why I want this story out there. I think the whole thing stinks.”

At this stage the successful prosecution of Daniel’s murderer is unlikely. In January those accused of the murder lost a case claiming malicious prosecution against them.

Damaged

Alastair said, “I’d like to see the full details of how this came to pass in a clear and understandable form for the public. And for them to understand how much this particular case has damaged the police profoundly.

“And I think that’s possibly the limit of what I can hope to achieve. There are still areas of darkness here. In particular in the interaction between the police and the News of the World. I still don’t know how far and deep that went.

“It still bothers me.”

After the phone hacking scandal, an under pressure Theresa May accepted demands for a panel of inquiry into the investigation of the murder. It has moved at glacial speed and the police have drip fed documents as slowly as they can.

However, according to Alastair, “The panel are giving us a lot of information. Originally we’d planned to publish after the panel’s report. But the panel was delayed again and again. So we decided we were going to go ahead with it.

“I’m expecting that when the panel reports, under any circumstances what they report is going to be shocking. And the police will go, ‘Yes but we’ve moved on – that was then and this is now’. It will be the standard response of, ‘Lessons have been learned’.

“But I’m not convinced by that. I’m not.

“It’s all our own material, our own research and findings. But I wanted this to come out before the Sky bid is settled. And before any decision is made on Leveson 2. And as much as anything else, my mother is 89 years old and I want her to be able to see this.

“It’s a kind of memorial to my brother in a way.”


TIMELINE

10 March 1987

Body of private eye Daniel Morgan is found at the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London. His watch is gone but he has £1,000 in his pocket. Six people, including police officers, are arrested in connection with the murder. No charges are brought.

1988

Inquest at Southwark Coroner's Court returns verdict of unlawful killing. Police Complaints Authority announces inquiry into handling of case and first murder inquiry.

1989

Three people are arrested on suspicion of murder, with two men being charged. Charges dropped.

1998-2000

Third police inquiry involves anti-corruption officers from Scotland Yard and Jonathon Rees is arrested for plotting to plant cocaine.

2002

Fourth inquiry involves Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) offers evidence of murder but Crown Prosecution Service decides not to prosecute.

2005

Met then Commissioner Sir Ian Blair admits first inquiry was "compromised" and a fifth inquiry begins.

2008-2009

Several arrested on suspicion of Daniel Morgan's murder with trial starting at Old Bailey. Jonathan Rees, and his brothers-in-law, Garry and Glenn Vian, are charged with murder. Sid Fillery was charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice but eventually the crown dropped the case against him.

2011

Trial collapses when the director of public prosecutions pulls the case due to allegations of witness coaching by a detective chief inspector.

2013

Independent panel set up by the then home secretary Theresa May.

2017

Jonathan Rees, Garry and Glenn Vian and Sid Fillery sue the Met for malicious prosecution. Fillery wins part of his claim because of the witness handling. The others lose.

No publication date set for report by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel.


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