Daniel Morgan’s Mysterious Death

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jun 25 2021
Columns Daniel Morgan’s Mysterious Death

Daniel Morgan was found dead in the carpark of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham at 9.40 p.m. on 10 March 1987 with an axe in his head. Morgan was a private investigator operating an agency called Southern Investigations based in Thornton Heath near Croydon in Surrey. Despite five police investigations, still no-one has been convicted of the murder. 

Morgan’s family have been waiting 34 years for some answers. An independent inquiry, the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (DMIP), chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, into the Metropolitan Police’s investigation of the murder was set up eight years ago. The panel also investigated “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them”. The report was published without redactions on 15 June 2021. 

The main suspect in the case was Morgan’s business partner Jonathan Rees. Because of horrendous procedural failures by corrupt and/or monumentally incompetent Met policemen, Rees is still a free man, living with Margaret Harrison, the Thornton Heath estate agent whose affections he shared with Daniel Morgan back in 1987. 

Rees was convicted in 2005 of planting drugs on an innocent woman. Rees had used email hacking to expose an undercover agent in Northern Ireland and Derek Haslam who had been penetrating Southern Investigations for nine years. On his release he was paid handsomely by Andy Coulson to do dirty work for the News of the World. In one year alone, the News of the World paid Rees £150,000. Andy Coulson was later paid handsomely to do dirty work for Tory leader David Cameron. 

Andy Coulson 

Andy Coulson was the editor of the News of the World from 2003 until 2007. Coulson got on well with David Cameron (who became leader of the Conservative Party in 2005) and his former Bullingdon Club buddy George Osborne (who became Chancellor of the Exchequer when Cameron became prime minister in 2010) despite publishing stories about them taking drugs. 

A PR man had said that one of Coulson's most useful attributes was his ability to ‘screw you over and make you feel good about it’. When current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was running for mayor of London in 2007, Coulson helped with the campaign but still wrote about Johnson: ‘for a posh bloke who went to Eton, he has an uncanny popular touch.

 He also has an uncanny habit of cheating on his wife.’ Coulson cheated on his own wife with Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) when she was his editor at the News of the World. Coulson resigned the editorship following the conviction of one of the News of the World’s reporters for phone-hacking. Despite this, David Cameron saw fit to give Coulson a £ 140,000 a year job as his communications director. 

Coulson did eventually lose that job when he was sent to prison. In June 2014 at the Old Bailey, Coulson was found guilty of a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails (phone-hacking). One of the phones hacked was that of Milly Dowler, the thirteen-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered by Levi Bellfield. Coulson was sentenced on 4 July 2014 to 18 months in prison. He only served five months. 

Rebekah Brooks 

Brooks was born Rebekah Wade. She married actor Ross Kemp (who played the thuggish Grant Mitchell in the teledrama East Enders) in June 2002 in Las Vegas, while she was editor of The Sun. On 3 November 2005, it was reported that Brooks had been arrested following an alleged assault on Kemp. She was released without charge, and the police took no further action. The Sun had been running a campaign against domestic violence at the time. 

She married former racehorse trainer and author Charlie Brooks in 2009. The couple are key members of the so-called Chipping Norton set, which includes David Cameron. Brooks has something in common with our beloved CBK – in her entry in Who's Who, she claimed, to much amusement, that she had studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. Brooks joined the News of the World in 1989 as a secretary. She became a features writer and then deputy editor. 

In 2000, she became the UK’s youngest editor. She prepared for an interview with James Hewitt, a lover of Princess Diana, by bugging his hotel room. She oversaw the News of the World’s campaign of ‘naming and shaming’ suspected sex offenders launched in the wake of the murder of Sarah Payne. 

As part of the campaign the phone of Sarah’s mother was hacked. The campaign was described as ‘grossly irresponsible’ journalism by the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Butler. In March 2003, Rebekah Brooks, then editor of The Sun, and Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World testified together before the Commons media select committee.

 Brooks responded to a question about payments to the police saying that the organisation paid the police for information in the past. Asked if she would do so again in the future, her answer was pre-empted by Coulson who stated that, if there is a clear public interest, they would continue with that practice.

 It was pointed out to Coulson that it was always illegal to pay police officers, regardless of public interest. In September 2015, Brooks was confirmed as CEO of News UK, the renamed News International, re-establishing the working relationship with News Corp founder and chairman Rupert Murdoch. Brooks and Murdoch’s daughter, Elizabeth, were frequent guests at David Cameron’s Chipping Norton home. 

Phone Hacking 

By 2002, British newspapers were making frequent use of an organised trade in confidential personal information acquired by Illegal means. The tabloid press routinely used information illicitly gained from hacking private voicemail accounts on mobile phones and hacking computers. Employees of the News of the World were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of stories. 

It seems likely that reporters were engaging in illegal activities as long ago as 1987, when Daniel Morgan was killed, even though mobile phones as we know them did not exist then. (Morgan did have a car phone.) Between 1999 and 2003, several reporters were convicted for crimes including drug distribution, the theft of drugs, child pornography, planting evidence, corruption, and perverting the course of justice. 

Press Intimidation 

During the fourth investigation into Daniel Morgan’s death, the senior investigating officer, David Cook, told Rebekah Brooks, that he and his family were under surveillance by News of the World journalists. Cook’s wife, also a police officer, alleged that there was a campaign of intimidation against them. The staff involved were promoted not reprimanded. 

The DMIP report says, “the circumstantial evidence suggests very strongly that intrusive activity suffered by DCS Cook, his wife Jacqui Hames, and their family was arranged by former DS Sid Fillery and Alex Marunchak.” Alex Marunchak was the star crime writer at the News of the World, who became an executive. 

He was the main point of contact at the newspaper for Rees and Fillery. It was alleged that Marunchak commissioned surveillance by shady investigator Glen Mulcaire on Cook in order to ‘subvert’ the detective’s investigation into Morgan’s murder. Mulcaire was the lowlife who hacked Milly Dowler’s phone. He was jailed for hacking in 2007.

 Cook has been described as the only policeman the Morgan family trusted and has been described as a scapegoat by many commentators on the Morgan case, but the DMIP report is harshly critical of his actions and say they have information which makes a strong case for him being prosecuted. 

According to the Guardian, two executives at the News of the World set up a business registered at Southern Investigations’ address. Former senior Met officers were given jobs writing columns in Murdoch’s papers. Lord Stevens, the former Met commissioner, went on to write for the News of the World after his retirement in 2005. 

A witness told detectives that Morgan was in discussions with the News of the World to sell a story about police corruption. News UK, the company that owns Murdoch’s British newspapers, including the august Times, as well as the gutter Sun, declined to comment.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jun 25 2021

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