The Report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel makes some striking findings about the relationship between corrupt police officers and the press. These findings have, unsurprisingly, not been mentioned in the corporate press.
The police suspected that officers were improperly engaging with the media – as early as 1997
As early as 3 April 1997, the Metropolitan Police had intelligence that two former police officers, DS Sid Fillery and DC Duncan Hanrahan, were in contact with two newspaper groups. The reasons for these contacts were not known but the document concluded that the reasons for this contact “would appear to give cause for concern” (Report, p.424).
Those two newspaper groups were the Mirror Group (now Reach PLC) and News International (now News UK, owned by the Murdochs). The editor of the Mirror at that time was Piers Morgan. The News of the World’s editor was Phil Hall, and his deputy had just been Rebekah Wade (now Brooks).
Rebekah Brooks was Editor of the News of the World when reporters spied on Morgan case detective, DCS Cook, and his wife at the time Jacqui Hames
Alex Marunchak, a News of the World reporter, was in regular phone contact with former DS Fillery, a one-time suspect in the Morgan case, at the time that the lead detective on the Morgan case DCS Dave Cook was put under News of the World surveillance. Fillery also visited Rees, who was in prison at the time, over this period. Rees and Marunchak had a “longstanding relationship… [which] involved the passing of sensitive and confidential information to the media for financial gain” (Report, p.510).
When DCS Cook (whose wife at the time was former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames) confronted News of the World about the surveillance and intrusion his family was suffering at the hands of the newspaper, its editor said she was unaware of what was going on. The reason for the surveillance given was that the paper believed Cook and Hames to be having an affair (Report, p512) – a curious reason, given that Cook and Hames were married to one another and had children together (these facts were well-known: the couple had even featured in Hello magazine).
The editor of the News of the World of the time, apparently oblivious to the surveillance and content with the bizarre justification for the surveillance as to uncover an affair between two people married to each other, was Rebekah Brooks.
Evidence “strongly” suggested the surveillance on Cook & Hames was arranged between News of the World reporter & former Morgan case suspect
The panel concludes that evidence “very strongly” suggests that the surveillance on Cook and Hames was arranged by former DS Fillery and Alex Marunchak with a view to discrediting Cook and/or to intimidate him and thus disrupt the investigation into Daniel Morgan’s murder (Report, p.517).
Mirror Editor in receipt of illegally obtained police docs could have been Colin Myler, Neil Wallis or Piers Morgan
The Panel refers to an occasion that an unnamed Mirror Editor was passed a copy of an illegally obtained, internal and confidential police document. The top three Mirror Group editors at the time were Colin Myler, Neil Wallis, and Piers Morgan.
In February 2000 Jonathan Rees’ PI firm Southern Investigations, later renamed “Law & Commercial”, was found by police to have provided confidential information to the press on 273 instances. 79% of those instances involved Mirror Group journalists.
Public documents have shown Mirror reporters in receipt of unlawful information from Law & Commercial to include Mark Thomas and Gary Jones, both working for the Mirror, edited at the time by Piers Morgan. Thomas went on to edit The People. Gary Jones is today Editor of the Daily Express.
Conduct of senior police officers, who took jobs with News UK after leaving the Met, strongly criticised
The Report is highly critical of the relationships between senior Met officers and the Murdoch press, citing two former senior officers who went on to benefit from lucrative column-writing contracts from News UK newspapers after leaving the force. The conduct of former AC Andy Hayman, who downplayed the practice of phone hacking, “compromised the integrity of the police”.
The Report makes clear “The absolute need for clear boundaries to be maintained between senior police personnel and those working in the mass media …for senior police officers to take up employment with media outlets or other organisations, whose record involves criminal activity, is profoundly damaging for the reputation of the police service” (Report, p.1097).
“Illegal trade in confidential information” between police, media and private investigators
The Panel found corruption in the linkages between Southern Investigations and former police officers which linkages “were used in an illegal trade in confidential information, much of it police information, via private investigators to the media. In particular, the information was sold to the News of the World, the media organisation … which accounted for an increasing proportion of Southern Investigations’ business by the early 1990s. The involvement of serving police officers in trading in confidential information obtained illegally is a form of corruption” (Report, p.1106).
This article is based on a Twitter thread first published by Dr Evan Harris (@DrEvanHarris)