Things I thought

Thursday 1 March 2012

Murder she rode

When it comes to distracting from inquiries, I'm a bit of an accidental expert. Which is why, when I encountered the spectacle of a horse galloping all over Leveson’s headlines, something smelled fishy. This fishy horse then began ringing alarm bells when I noticed that smarter people than me had spotted some utterly explosive revelations in that day’s evidence - revelations which one might have expected to be big news, had an equine usurper not taken the lead.

The testimony of Jacqueline Hames – available here – is as bizarre as it is damning. The whole thing is worth a read, but the relevant section runs from part 30 onwards. While reading the following story, you might like to imagine the various characters played by the cast of Channel 4’s Red Riding, if you watched it, which you probably didn’t, because it was shit.

In 1987 a private investigator called Daniel Morgan was murdered with an axe and later found dead in the back of a car. The investigation fell apart when it turned out that several cops on the murder squad had dealings with the private investigation firm (Southern Investigations) Morgan worked for, and that Morgan's business partner and chief suspect in the murder, Jonathan Rees, was good friends with investigating officer Sid Fillery. After the investigation collapsed, Fillery took early retirement and went into business with Rees.

I’ll give you all a moment to think libelous thoughts.

Done? Good. I think so too.

Morgan’s family understandably brought a complaint, and the case was reopened four separate times. In 2002 an appeal was made on the BBC’s vaguely fascist nightmare inhibitor Crimewatch offering big cash prizes to anyone who had any information. As a result, both Jacqueline Hames, then a Crimewatch presenter, and David Cook, who was the “public face” of the investigation were put under surveillance by Southern Investigations and, weirdly, the News of the World. Upon discovering this, both officers were placed under the witness protection programme. The police also decided to have a chat with Rebekah Brooks, NotW editor and future borrower of horses.

Ms Brooks claimed that the two had been put under surveillance as the NotW suspected them of having an affair. This was hardly groundbreaking journalism as, by the time the surveillance began, the couple had been together for 11 years, married for 4, were living with each other and had two kids.

In Ms Hames opinion, she and her husband were put under surveillance as part of an attempt to intimidate them out of further investigating the death of Daniel Morgan. I cannot begin to speculate on why the NotW would do this, mainly because I don’t want to end up in court again.

One person who can speculate is Tom Watson, who used his parliamentary privilege to suggest a strong connection between murder suspect Jonathan Rees and NotW journalist Andy Marunchak. According to Watson, Rees’ company paid Marunchak’s debts, and the two had businesses registered to the same address. Watson also alleges that, a week before he was found with an axe in his head, Daniel Morgan approached Andy Marunchak with a story about police corruption.

For what it’s worth (very little) Andy Marunchak vigorously denies these allegations. Yet for all his bluster, and all Brooks’ equine obfuscation, it’s clear that there may be a lethally cozy relationship between pigs, PIs and Fleet Street.

The Justice For Daniel campaign is online here and here.