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Murdoch's Corporate Knowledge of the Daniel Morgan Murder and Misleading Parliament

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Peter JukesLondon
Murdoch's Corporate Knowledge of the Daniel Morgan Murder and Misleading Parliament
More detail from the Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed book which shows that News Corp had extensive knowledge of criminal activity, funded it regardless, and misled parliament about the extent of their knowledge

In my letter to Ofcom, reprinted yesterday ahead of Karen Bradley's decision on Rupert Murdoch's bid to own 100% of Sky, I suggested there was extensive corporate knowledge among senior management at NGN and News Corp about the crimes associated with the Daniel Morgan murder, despite multiple denials. 

If you want to object to the proposed takeover, you can still email Culture Secretary Karen Bradley here. 

Here are some supporting pieces of evidence from the new book by Alastair Morgan and myself. 

The Background

The News of the World were reported to be in contact with Daniel Morgan before his murder in 1987. After the arrests of Daniel's partner Jonathan Rees and Sidney Fillery on suspicion of murder, the relationship with the Sunday tabloid became much more extensive. During this time... 

Rees and Fillery were reported to be working with organised crime to subvert the criminal justice system

The tip-off that brought Southern Investigations back on the radar for the Met – was a link back to south London organised crime...

"Former Catford cop Richard Zdrojewski had noted there was something ‘bent’ about the way Fillery fixed his arrest and bail conditions. Intelligence reports from the early nineties suggest Fillery and Rees were involved in other, more serious, subversions of the legal process.

One uncorroborated but trusted informant claimed Rees and Fillery were in negotiations with a criminal awaiting trial. The plan was to steal a police officer’s notebook from a south London police station and destroy key evidence....

But the most important piece of intelligence from the early nineties – and the tip-off that brought Southern Investigations back on the radar for the Met – was a link back to south London organised crime...

The intelligence reports suggest [London gangster Joey] Pyle tried to disrupt this second trial by attempting to track down the undercover officer ‘Dave’, whose evidence was crucial. The reports claim that Fillery and Rees were asked to use their bailiff and process-serving skills to locate ‘Dave’ so that Pyle’s associates could ‘either kill him or persuade him not to give evidence’."

Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes, pp118-119

Throughout the 90s, subcontracted through news editor Alex Marunchak, Southern Investigations became the market leader in the dark arts of bugging, blagging, bribing cops and even alleged burglaries.

Rees and Fillery's star alumni was one of the Murdochs' favourite journalists, Mazher Mahmood, AKA 'The Fake Sheikh'

Brooks was speaking on the phone to Mahmood four times a day.   

"Surviving samples of invoices from May 1997, and Southern Investigations’ phone records from March and February of the same year, confirm that Sid Fillery and Jonathan Rees were billing Alex Marunchak over £150,000 a year, and were regularly working with the News of the World’s top journalist, Mazher Mahmood.... having trained him in the dark arts, Fillery and Rees were often helping Mahmood out, providing transport and backup.

In just one month’s sample of Southern Investigations’ invoices, in May 1997, Rees and Fillery billed the News of the World for at least five stories with Mahmood, who was now billed as chief investigative reporter.

Sid Fillery acted as an ‘extra’ in several of Mazher Mahmood’s celebrated stings, posing as a private secretary during one of the Fake Sheikh’s abortive stings against a friend of the Prince of Wales at The Dorchester hotel on London’s Park Lane. The News of the World was billed several times in May 1997 for providing personnel for Mahmood’s attempt to crash Sylvester Stallone’s wedding at The Dorchester.

Mazher Mahmood’s connections to the upper echelons of the Murdoch empire were fast growing and by now he’d become close friends with the deputy editor of the Sunday tabloid, Rebekah Brooks. According to Christine Hart, a journalist posing as the Fake Sheikh’s girlfriend for the Stallone wedding caper, Brooks was speaking on the phone to Mahmood four times a day."

Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes, pp177-178  

Southern Investigations had a hotline to the heart of Murdoch publishing in the UK

Rees and Fillery had access to the News of the World hotline reserved for the highest editorial levels of the newspaper   

The connection with the News of the World was not arms length, but at the highest level, Fillery and Rees had access to special number, 020 7583 9454, routed through the old Fleet Street exchange,

"The mystery of that number was solved by Greg Miskiw, a News of the World journalist and editor for nearly 20 years. He recalls this old Fleet Street number was patched through to the news desk at Wapping. It was a special phone – a kind of bat phone – which took priority over any other calls to the many phones on the news desk. This special News of the World hotline was only for the use of senior editors and reporters, like Rebekah Brooks or Mazher Mahmood. If that phone started ringing, you dropped everything else.

Extraordinarily, in the surviving mobile phone records for March 1997, Fillery was also calling this number every other day, especially in the lead up to stories involving Mazher Mahmood, Neville Thurlbeck or Royal reporter Clive Goodman. In 1999, while Rees was in frequent phone conversations with either Alex Marunchak or Mazher Mahmood, Southern Investigations’ main office would also call the hotline to News International’s best-selling paper.

Given the amount of publicity over the last ten years from the arrests overDaniel Morgan’s murder, through the Stephen Lawrence murder, and the convictions of John Donald and Duncan Hanrahan, the criminality of Southern Investigations would have been apparent to any newspaper executive or journalist. Yet for all this Rees and Fillery had access to the News of the World hotline reserved for the highest editorial levels of the newspaper."

Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes, pp179

Southern Investigations was the hub of 'Media Crimes'

Rees and Fillery were caught committing a crime every other working day, and even this is probably an underestimate.  

When, as part of a covert third murder investigation, Scotland Yard placed a bug in the premises of Southern Investigations , the company was rife with criminality.

"The evidential stage of the probe into Southern Investigations began on 15th April 1999. Over the next five months, under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner, John Stevens, CIB 3 recorded conversations from the suspects, and gathered evidence of 46 potential crimes, most of them involving British journalists. In other words, Rees and Fillery were caught committing a crime every other working day, and even this is probably an underestimate.

Derek Haslam told his CIB 3 handlers that the surveillance team would have been better advised placing a bug in the Victory pub rather than theGrange Road offices, as Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery conducted most of their business there after lunchtime. It’s certainly clear from intelligencereports that the public house was a clearing house for corrupt cops wanting to sell information.

The News of the World’s chief investigations reporter Mazher Mahmood was spotted there by an informant in 1998 trying to buy a story from a plainclothes detective about a dowry in the form of livestock.

As the first day of the recordings proved, Mahmood, the News of the World’s chief investigative reporter and a close friend of Rebekah Brooks, was still working with Rees and Fillery regularly. At this point in April, Southern Investigations were providing bodyguards for John Alford’s trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, where the Fake Sheikh was due to give evidence.

If the connections between Rupert Murdoch’s best-selling newspaper and the crime and corruption of Southern Investigations weren’t already disturbing enough, Garry Vian and Jimmy Cook were initially suggested as Mahmood’s personal protection team; three murder suspects working directly for the Fake Sheikh."

Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes, p 203

The multiple 'Media Crimes' exposed by the probe were compiled in a report by Commander Bob Quick and sent to the Met's senior command, naming Alex Marunchak and Mahmood as major employers of Rees and Fillery

What Rebekah Brooks Must have Known

At the Culture Media and Sport select committee hearing in 2011, Rebekah Brooks denied all knowledge of Jonathan Rees during her 15 years at News of the World.

TOM WATSON: Did you ever have any contact directly or through others with Jonathan Rees?

REBEKAH BROOKS: No.

TOM WATSON: Do you know about Jonathan Rees?

REBEKAH BROOKS: I do. Again, I have heard a lot recently about Jonathan Rees. I watched the Panorama programme, as we all did. His wasn’t a name familiar to me. I am told that he rejoined the News of the World in 2005 or 2006, and he worked with the News of the World and many other newspapers in the late 1990s. That is my information.

TOM WATSON: Do you find it peculiar that having served a sentence for a serious criminal offence, he was then rehired by the paper?

REBEKAH BROOKS: It does seem extraordinary.

Brooks was warned twice about her journalists interfering in the fourth Daniel Morgan murder investigation into Rees and Fillery   

1/ By 1997, Southern Investigations was regularly providing technical assistance, bodyguards and personnel for Mazher Mahmood. a close friend of the paper's features editor, and then deputy editor, Rebekah Brooks.

2/ Brooks' lawyer, Tom Crone, spoke to Rees in 2000 before his imprisonment for perverting the course of justice.

3/ Alex Marunchak, Brook's senior executive editor, topped the list of Bob Quick's 'Media Crimes' report about the Rees and Fillery's interaction with the press. Quick was told that the newspapers concerned would be warned. 

4/ Brooks was warned twice about her journalists interfering in the fourth Daniel Morgan murder investigation into Rees and Fillery, once by the Met's public affair's spokesman Dick Fedoricio in 2002, and then by DCS Dave Cook a few months later.

5/ The discussion about Cook's warning is contained in managing director Stuart Kuttner's notes in January 2003. The next day Brooks was peremptorily moved to edit the Sun. 

What Rupert Murdoch Must Have Known

At the Culture Media and Sport select committee hearing in 2011, Rupert Murdoch denied any memory of Alex Marunchak, 25 year veteran and Irish editor of News of the World.

TOM WATSON: Finally, can I ask you, when did you first meet Mr Alex Marunchak?

RUPERT MURDOCH: Mister—?

TOM WATSON: Alex Marunchak. He worked for the company for 25 years.

RUPERT MURDOCH: I don’t remember meeting him. I might have shaken hands walking through the office, but I don’t have any memory of him.

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”   

1. Alex Marunchak regularly attended parties at Eaton Square hosted by the CEO of News International during the Wapping dispute in the mid 80s, and had high level police contacts.

2. Rupert Murdoch personally intervened with Piers Morgan, editor of News of the World in 1994, about a Princess Diana story sourced through Marunchak :

‘Hi Piers,’ Murdoch said. ‘I can’t really talk for long but I just wanted you to know that your story is one hundred per cent bang on. Can’t tell you how I know, but I just know.’...

He then instructed his editor to get on TV and tell the world that Princess Diana is ‘a liar’, and to promise more material in the Sunday tabloid the following week.

Though relieved, Morgan couldn’t help admitting to his proprietor that he didn’t have any more material. But Murdoch replied: ‘Oh, you will have by Sunday, don’t worry. Gotta go. Good luck.’

Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes, p 169

3. In 1997, the then leader of the Irish government wrote to Rupert Murdoch praising the work of Alex Marunchak on the Irish edition of News of the World. 

"In correspondence from September 1997, the then Taoiseach of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, wrote personally to Rupert Murdoch to thank him for the News of the World’s coverage of the recent general election and particularly ‘appreciated the very professional approach of your Associate Editor Alex Marunchak’. The Irish Prime Minister asked Murdoch to pass on ‘my thanks and best wishes to Alex’. Murdoch replied on 30th September: ‘I shall be delighted to pass on your comments.'"

Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed, by Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes, p 170

4. Ray Adams, 'Murdoch's Yard Man' who acted as head of security for six years for News Corp's NDS division from 1996-2002, reported directly to Murdoch in New York. Adams was an associate of Rees and Fillery, and a key figure in the South East Regional Crime Squad which acted so often for News International it was known as 'The News of the World Regional Crime Squad'.

5. In March 2011, as senior News Corp executives planned to shut down News of the World, the paper's senior in house lawyer, Tom Crone, met now retired executive Alex Marunchak and Alec Leighton, a close associate of Rees and Fillery.

In short, despite the multiple denials about corporate involvement in circle of corrupt police officers and underworld figures around the Daniel Morgan, the evidence to the contrary is compelling.  

With three direct connections to senior News Corp management - Mahmood, Marunchak and Adams -  it would be impossible for them not to know the truth.

As Ian Fleming once said: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”

You can catch up with the whole story of Britain's most investigated murder and the involvement of the British press with the Untold Murder podcast. A new episode is out on Thursday 29th June. 

Meanwhile Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed is available at good book shops and online.

#Ofcom, #Sky Takeover, #Rupert Murdoch, #Rebekah Brooks, #Sid Fillery, #Jonathan Rees, #Alex Marunchak, #Mazher Mahmood, #Ray Adams, #Dark Arts, #News of the World

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