Three-D Issue 27: Leveson part two: outstanding issues and unheard evidence

The second part the Leveson Inquiry in the culture, ethics and practices of the press was designed to follow on from the first part once all the related criminal cases had concluded to avoid prejudicing any police investigations or court proceedings.

All these trials are now over and have also brought to light a mass of evidence of the extent of voice mail interception and corrupt payments to public officials. Over 30 public officials have been convicted for charges of Misconduct in Public Office and yet most the journalists have been acquitted. None of the legal or corporate governance issues raised by over 20 trials have been assessed.

Likewise, mainly because they were subject to ongoing police inquiries in 2011-2012, various other crimes beyond voice mail interception were excluded from consideration in Leveson One.

  • Burglary
  • Email hacking
  • Blagging (i.e. pretexting)
  • Access to confidential medical and criminal records
  • Perversion of the course of justice

This article will outline three key witnesses with intimate knowledge of the extent of these criminal practices, initially at News of the World, but spreading to the wider culture of the press

Police Failures to Investigate

The second part of the Leveson Inquiry was also designed to look more closely at the relationship between the press and the police, with particular reference to the close relationship between senior officers of the Metropolitan Police Service and executives and senior journalists at News International.  The evidence from these three witnesses is key to evaluating what went wrong in the past, and how to prevent abuses of the public trust in the future.

MPS AND THE EVIDENCE OF DCS DAVID COOK

Background

Detective Chief Superintendent Cook was the public face of the covert fourth Daniel Morgan murder investigation (Abelard 1) in 2002, and led the fifth investigation from April 2006 until March 2011, when the trial of five suspects was stayed due to failures of disclosure.

In total DCS Cook spent 8 years examining the role of Southern Investigations, a private detective company founded by Daniel Morgan in 1983, which became – after Morgan’s murder – the ‘maternity ward where the dark arts were born.’1

For nearly a quarter of a century Southern Investigations (later renamed Law and Commercial/Media Investigations) run by private detective Jonathan Rees and a former crime squad detective, Sidney Fillery, was a hub of illegal trading in information between police officers, organised crime and media organisations, particularly News of the World.

Along with his wife, former police officer Jacqui Hames, DCS Cook was due to become a core participant at the Leveson One inquiry in January 2012 when he was arrested by the MPS following material provided by News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee that he had been in contact with a Sun crime reporter Mike Sullivan about co-writing a book.  There was no suggestion of money changing hands

Mike Sullivan had been a long standing official contact of DCS Cook, who had been given specific permission by his senior officer DAC John Yates to maintain contact with the media over the fifth Daniel Morgan murder investigation. An article by Sullivan about the murder in 2006 had drawn forth a key witness for the prosecution.

DCS Cook’s evidence is a key omission of Leveson One and without it the remit of public inquiry is incomplete.

Main Points of DCS Cooks Evidence

  1. The Historic Proximity of the MPS and News International. During Cook’s time on the Central Drug Squad in the mid-1980s the News of the World regularly hosted Friday night drinks at a public house near New Scotland Yard.
  2. 30 Crimes Involving Journalists. A mass of evidence of the illegal trade in information and payments to corrupt officers were documented in the third Daniel Morgan murder inquiry – Operation Nigeria/Two Bridges – over a course of nine months from February to November 1999, during which a listening device was placed into the premises of Southern Investigations. A report by Commander Bob Quick was submitted to DAC Andy Hayman in February 2000, outlining at least 30 crimes involving media organisations and naming three senior editors and executives for further investigation.2
    • Alex Marunchak, news editor at News of the World
    • Gary Jones, executive at the Mirror group, formerly of News of the World
    • Mazher Mahmood, investigations editor at News of the World
  3. A Mirror journalist, Doug Kempster was arrested but none of these three journalists were investigated In March 2000, According to the Leveson evidence of the MPS head of Corporate Affairs, Dick Fedorcio Commissioner Sir John Stevens met with the incoming editor of News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, and her senior editor Alex Marunchak.3 During his evidence Stevens denied ever meeting Marunchak.
  4. Perverting the Course of Justice. Cook appeared on Crimewatch in June 2002 to appeal for more information for the new fourth Daniel Morgan murder inquiry. His wife, Jacqui Hames, was also a presenter on the program.
    • Cook was told that an intercept had gained intelligence that Sidney Fillery, a suspect in the murder, had contacted Alex Marunchak to target the lead investigator and ‘sort him out’
    • Greg Miskiw, a news editor at News of the World, was tasked to place surveillance on Cook and Hames which included two nondescript vans. In the last year Miskiw has stated that he believed this was to aid to the murder suspects, and disguising Marunchak’s role.4
    • Glenn Mulcaire was tasked by Miskiw to discover confidential information on Cook and Hames. He has since said this was a financial inquiry involving joint bank accounts of the married couple, their police history and financial details
    • Two hired vehicles were detected surveiling the Cook family in Surrey including their two young children. (This caused Jacqui Hames, who had been a close friend of the TV present Jill Dando who had been shot on her doorstep, acute anxiety and distress.) Further inquiries revealed that they had been hired by News International and one of the occupants was Bradley Page, a photographer who worked exclusively with Mazher Mahmood.
  5. MPS inaction in 2002.  The MPS conducted no investigation into the attempts by the News of the World to pervert the course of justice in the 2002 investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan or the criminal activities in relation to Cooks family (4a and 4d above).
  6. Marunchak and the Soham Murders. In 2002, Cook submitted Intelligence to the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards which clearly stated that Alex Marunchak was paying the wife of a Detective in Soham, in relation to information on the murder of two young girls. The MPS took no action, nor did they inform Cambridge Constabulary of the Intelligence. At no stage did anyone from the MPS speak to Cook about that intelligence.
  7. Marunchak’s History with the Murder Suspects. In August 2002 Cook’s team obtained an updated witness statement from a book keeper at Southern Investigations from 1987-1990, Marjorie Williams (who had given her first statement in February ) in which she alleged:
    • Marunchak had been employing the services of Southern investigations since 1987, within days of the murder of Daniel Morgan.
    • News of the World were Southern Investigations main client paying out £25,000 a month in small cash payments for “information on people which would ultimately result as a story in the paper.”
    • Rees and Fillery were paying backhanders to Marunchak out of the proceeds of NGN payments to clear his credit card debts were being cleared and pay his son’s school fees.

    Cook’s team request a financial investigation to be conducted into Marunchak’s relationship with Southern Investigations as part of the Abelard 1 Daniel Morgan murder investigation in August 2002. This task was given to the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards, who took the decision to take no action despite the previous information that Marunchak had tried to pervert the Course of Justice in relation to the Morgan Investigation in collusion with the suspects, and a wealth of evidence contained within the historic files to support this witness. A second request for investigation in November 2002 was also ignored.

  8. Evidence of Burglary and other Criminal Conspiracies between News of the World the Southern Investigation. In December 2002, Cook’ s team conducted a search of the premises belonging to Southern Investigations and seized the computer of an ex Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery. When a forensic analysis was completed, in addition to paedophile images being found, further business conduct between Southern Investigations was also established.

    • A search revealed 179 documents referring to Alex Marunchak
    • On at least one document there was evidence that private detectives had been tasked by the journalist to commit a burglary in Ascot

    The existence of this information would have demonstrated the extent of criminal activity was withheld from DCS Cook and the MPS did not submit it to the first Leveson Inquiry

  9. Meeting Rebekah Brooks in 2003.  Instead of mounting an investigation senior management proposed a meeting between Cook and Rebekah Brooks in 5 January 2003

    • En route to this meeting Cook was accompanied by Dick Fedorcio, the Director of Press and Public Relations and a Commander Andre Baker. Cook alleges that Baker told him Brooks was a friend of Commissioner Sir John Stevens and she dined with him on a regular basis. Cook construed this as a threat
    • When confronted with the allegations against Marunchak and his association with Fillery and Rees, Brooks defended Marunchak as a “very good editor” but agreed to investigate
    • According to the evidence of Dick Fedorcio, Brooks then went on to a drinks reception with Commissioner Stevens who had sanctioned the meeting.
    • The following day News International archive minutes by managing editor Stuart Kuttner record a conversation with his editor Rebekah Brooks about the Marunchak allegations. No further action was taken. Marunchak was promoted to a senior executive role in the Irish edition of the paper. Brooks moved to editorship of the Sun three days later]

    Not only did senior executives at News International know of these criminal allegations: the senior ranks of the MPS were also apprised.

  10. The Re-Hiring of Jonathan Rees. Rees was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in 2000 for planting cocaine on an innocent woman in order that his client could obtain custody of their son. Rees was regularly visited by Alex Marunchak during his time in custody, and communicated to Sid Fillery that journalists would be ‘gagging’ for a new technology he had discovered through other inmates: email hacking. On his release in late 2005

    • Rees was immediately rehired by News of the World. His name and address is quite clearly stated on surviving News International invoices
    • The few surviving invoices clearly indicate confidential inquiries into politicians such as Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, members of the Royal Family and celebrities
    • In 2006 Rees was relaying information about a protected witness to Alex Marunchak which had been obtained through an eblaster Trojan – i.e. email hacking
    • In 2006 Rees was passing on confidential phone records of a protected witness to Alex Marunchak
    • An undercover informant, Derek Haslam, who had been tasked by the MPS to gather intelligence on Rees and Fillery in 1998, also exposed by the same eblaster Trojan software in 2006
    • In the summer of 2006 the MPS had intelligence that Marunchak was trying to pass malicious information about Cook and his partner Jacqui Hames to other journalists.

    At no point did either the MPS or News International conduct any investigations into Marunchak and Rees’ alleged criminal activities during this period.

  11. Leaks from the MPS Inner Sanctum. The fifth Daniel Morgan investigation was approved by the new commissioner Sir Ian Blair at high level meeting of his management team in April  2006. The decision was made under conditions of extreme secrecy for operational security reasons. However:

    • Within two days the decision had been leaked to the murder suspects. Jonathan Rees claimed he had confirmed the leak with Alex Marunchak
    • Rees also claimed the source of this confirmation was Sir John Stevens, who was by then a regular columnist at News of the World
    • Cook later established that former Commissioner John Stevens was obtaining information from the then Commissioners Management Board meetings to support his newspaper column in the News of the World.

    The existence of this intelligence could have put the new investigation at risk and that of the Officers. Yet it was neither communicated the SIO Dave Cook or the Commissioner Ian Blair.

  12. First Phone Hacking Investigation: Operation Caryatid. During this period from late 2005 to mid-summer 2006, the MPS were conducting Operation Caryatid, the first investigation into phone hacking.

    • Glenn Mulcaire and Royal correspondent Clive Goodman were arrested in August 2006.
    • Mulcaire’s notes contained clear cut evidence that Cook and Hames had been targeted
    • This substantial operational breach was not brought to Cook’s attention until April 2011 by the MPS and even then it was only done so out of duress.

    In Cook’s  personal view this was a cover up of the know criminality of News International by the MPS. Cook claims from his own discussions that the MPS were scared of full disclosure and the impact hence the continued cover up.

  13. Further disclosure during the Daniel Morgan murder pretrial hearings. During the disclosure process in 2010 and 2011 at the Central Criminal Court of the Old Bailey another 15 boxes of evidence were discovered in MPS  archives which detailed the extent of the illegal trade of confidential information between News International and Southern Investigations, often using serving MPS officers.

MPS AND THE LEVESON EVIDENCE OF MAZHER MAHMOOD

Background

Mazher Mahmood, AKA the ‘Fake Sheikh’, was a senior reporter in News International operating over a number of titles from 1988 – 2016, including the Sunday Times, News of the World, and the Sun on Sunday. He was the head of the investigations unit at News of World under the editorship of the now CEO of News UK, Rebekah Brooks. He maintained a very close relationship with her during the height of his association with Southern Investigations circa 1990-2002. He was also the source of over a hundred MPS investigations until his arrest for perverting the course of justice in the trial of Tulisa Constavlos, and subsequent conviction in August 2016.

  1. Senior Counsel for the MPS aided and abetted Mazher Mahmood’s perjury of the Leveson Inquiry. Mahmood made many statements Lord Justice Leveson over many issues which the MPS would have known were false.
    • Mahmood claimed he was responsible for nearly 200 convictions. 60 is the more accurate number.
    • Mahmood claimed he had only worked with Southern Investigations for two years in the early 90s. But the MPS had close evidence he was a close associate from 1990 to  at least 2002
    • Mahmood denied any participation in bribing public officials or illegal subterfuge, though the MPS had intelligence from 1998 that Mahmood was actively corrupting a plain clothes officer, allegations he was impersonating public officials, and an interview during which Mahmood confessed to using ‘bent’ police officers.
  2. Evidence of Mahmood’s Involvement with Southern Investigations. Much of this was available in 1999/2000 thanks to Operation Nigeria/Two Bridges. Commander Quick’s report specifically named Mazher Mahmood as one of the top three suspects in illegal story gathering
    • In 1998 an intelligence report place Mahmood in the Victory Public House, the favourite meeting place of Rees and Fillery, planning to bribe a CID officer for a story about a dowry
    • Invoices from May 1997 indicate Sid Fillery was working with Mahmood on half a dozen stories.
    • Intelligence reports from this period indicating Southern Investigations provided drugs for newspaper stings (repeated in Graeme McLagan’s ‘Bent Coppers’ in 2003)
    • Mahmood worked with Fillery on a number of stings at the Dorchester and Savoy Hotels in the late 90s (repeated in Laurie Flynn and Mike Gilliard’s ‘Untouchables’ in 2003)
    • In 1999 Mahmood was employing Fillery and Rees in gathering information on alleged illegal migrants.
    • In 1999 Southern Investigations provided bodyguards for Mazher Mahmood at the trial of John Alford at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Gary Vian was a suspect in the Morgan murder would five years later receive a 14-year sentence for drug importation. Gary Eaton had an extensive criminal record. Both were well known gangland enforcers. They also provided protection for Mahmood at the trial of Lord Hardwigge, and their intimidating presence was noted by the judge.
  3. Despite the intelligence against Mahmood, he was accorded special status with the MPS. His spurious allegations of plot to kidnap the Beckham’s and a trade in non-existent Red Mercury were pursued vigorously by the MPS. Mazher Mahmood boasts in his autobiography how he and his editor, Andy Coulson, met Commissioner Stevens for tea in 2003
  4. Two separate investigations into Mahmood revealed police corruption.  Following allegations of six criminal offences from an associate Florim Gashi the MPS launched an investigation, Operation Canopus, on 21 October 2003 into using counterfeit currency, possession of firearms, corruption of an HM Prison employee, corruption of a police officer for vehicle checks, blackmail and a hoax bomb plot. The investigation was dropped through lack of evidence.

    Following more detailed allegations Operation Canopus 2 was initiated in October 2005. Mazher Mahmood was interviewed under caution on 17 October 2005. Mahmood told the investigating officers.

    • “I’ve got bent police officers that are witnesses, that are informants.”
    • “I’ve got some senior officers in Britain who are also my informants”.

    There was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mahmood, but his ineligibility as a prosecution witness should have been clear to the MPS

  5. Despite evidence of his criminality, the MPS supported Mahmood on further prosecutions. For the next fifteen years, despite specific allegations in Canopus 1 and 2 that Mahmood tampered with evidence and suborned public officials, Mahmood was used as the main prosecution witness in over a dozen trials. The MPS never disclosed to the defence evidence of his corrupt behaviour.  MPS could therefore have been involved in grave miscarriages of justice.
  6. Mahmood’s clear Perjury at the Leveson One Inquiry: Mahmood’s two written statements and his oral evidence to Lord Justice Leveson in 2012 were clearly wilfully misleading
    • Mahmood misled the court over the number of prosecutions he had secured
    • Mahmood stated he only worked with ‘a certain private detective company’ – Southern Investigations – on 20 or so stories from 1990-1992

    From intelligence reports, intercepts and documentary evidence of payments the MPS had clear evidence that Mahmood was working with Southern Investigations corrupting police officers in 1997, 1998, and they were providing bodyguards at trials in 1999.

    But at no time did they bring challenge this evidence, or bring the deceptions to the attention of Lord Justice Leveson.

    The MPS continued thereafter to support Mazher Mahmood in his role as an investigative journalist engaged in the prosecution of criminal cases until the Tulisa trial in 2013.

MPS AND THE EVIDENCE OF DEREK HASLAM

Background

Derek Haslam was a Detective Constable attached to Addington Police station. In 1987 he was investigating an amphetamine dealer who alleged serious corruption by senior MPS officers. As a result of these allegations a three-year long year inquiry into Commander Ray Adams and others, Operation Russell was launched. After the suicide of his friend and fellow officer, DC Alan Holmes, Haslam had to relocate for security reasons after threats to his life and the safety of his family. He retired from the MPS on health grounds in 1989. His certificate of discharge from the MPS shows his conduct to have been exemplary.

In 1997, Haslam was approached by Detective Superintendent Dave Woods, who was attached to the Anti-Corruption Squad, CIB 3. Woods told Haslam that the death of DC Holmes was being reinvestigated as a possible murder or assisted suicide, and connected to the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan. Woods confirmed to Haslam that both had been seen in the offices of News of the Worldtrying to sell of story of police corruption in early 1987 before Daniel Morgan’s murder.

Haslam was conscripted as Confidential Human Intelligence Source, required to sign the Official Secrets Act, and tasked with befriending and informing on the partners of Southern Investigations Jonathan Rees and former Detective Sergeant Sidney Fillery.

Haslam spent the next 9 years (until he was exposed by email hacking) as a major source of information to the DPS about the illegal trade in information between Southern Investigations, media organisations such as News International, the Mirror Group and other newspapers, and various other crimes involving MPS staff,

Haslam’s reports from Southern Investigations and its circle formed the basis of several widely circulated MPS reports, and initiated Operation Nigeria/Two Bridges, during which a surveillance device was placed in the premises of Thornton Heath Detective agency

  1. Halsam’s Information Withheld from Other Inquiries: In 2011, when the police operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta into phone hacking, police bribes, and email hacking were initiated, Haslam told his DPS handlers three times that he was willing to aid their inquiries and insisting the intelligence he had gathered was passed over to then. On all three occasions the DPS assured him this would be passed on to Weeting Officers and the Leveson counsels.

    Nine months later, when no approach was made, Haslam was contacted by a senior officee the “Weeting team asking him to “reconsider” his “refusal to assist them.” Despite Haslam’s three requests to help the team, they had been deliberately misinformed that he was reluctant.

  2. Haslam’s Evidence Withheld from the Leveson Inquiry: Also in 2011, when the Leveson Inquiry was announced, Haslam informed his solicitor that he would like to give evidence. He was advised not to be appear by his solicitor who, unknown to him, had also represented News International.
  3. With 9 years of reports from Southern Investigations, filed several times a month to his DPS handlers Haslam’s evidence on the follow matters would have been key: the various illegal means by which politicians, celebrities, and other public figures were targeted; the knowledge journalistic organisations had of Southern Investigations illegal activities; he reaction of the MPS to the discovery of a vast illicit trade in information for the media. For example:
    • Haslam informed the DPS with a few months that Rees claimed “we have eyes and ears everywhere, there is no information we cannot get hold of through our network of contacts, we could get hold of the Queens medical records and bank balance if we wanted.”
    • Haslam relayed back evidence Rees and Fillery were accessing police databases through the police national computer.
    • Haslam revealed Rees had several corrupt officials in the MPS, other forces, Customs and Excise,  HM Prison service on his payroll.  He informed them Southern Investigations were also corrupting civil servants, bank staff, building society staff, NHS staff, credit card companies, mobile phone companies, British telecom and people employed by Insurance companies.
    • Haslam warned his handlers that Rees was targeting senior police officers with adverse publicity and actively working to embarrass them with personal information placed in the newspapers; targets included Haslam’s handler DCI Chris Jarrett and then DAC John Stevens
    • Haslam relayed information that Rees had said he would stop at nothing “to gather filth on senior police officers and government ministers.” Among the politicians he was actively investigating were Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Peter Mandelson.
    • Haslam relayed information that Southern Investigations were actively involved in Mazher Mahmood’s stings.
    • Haslam was introduced by Rees to a Mirror journalist who was willing to pay prison officials
    • Haslam met Marunchak on several occasions. On his release from prison Rees seemed eager that Marunchak employed him
    • Haslam told the DPS about the targeting of the Daniel Morgan murder investigators including DCS Cook: “I want as much filth as I can get on Cook and his team.”
    • Haslam informed them that Rees asked him to get the address of the former husband of Jacqui Hames by phoning the Tax office at Tyglas Road in Cardiff under false pretexts.

CONCLUSION

When the Prime Minister, with the agreement of all the party leaders, announced the Leveson Inquiry in July 2011 it was agreed it would take place in two parts: Part 1 to take place immediately and Part 2, of equal importance, to take place following the conclusion of trials related to phone hacking and alleged press and police corruption. What this sordid history tells us is that corrupt relations between the press and the police have not been properly investigated and will never be brought to light unless Leveson Part 2 takes place.

Leveson Part 2 is desperately needed to ensure that the ways in which any relevant police force investigated allegations or evidence of unlawful conduct by persons within or connected with News International is fully understood and exposed. It is needed to reveal the extent to which the police received corrupt payments or other inducements, and how this was allowed to happen. It is needed so we can be in no doubt about the nature and extent of corporate governance and management failures at News International and other newspaper organizations. But more than all these, it is needed so that we can fully consider the implications for the relationships between newspaper organisations and the police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatory bodies – and to recommend what actions, if any, should be taken to prevent such abuses happening again.

Endnotes

1 The Daniel Morgan Murder: An Unsolved Mystery of the Murdoch Hacking Scandal. Daily Beast 10/05/2013

2 Witness Statement of Robert Quick, 12/02/2012 Leveson Inquiry Archives

3 MPS, DPS, FOI response

4 Miskiw Confirms: News of the World Subverted Murder Inquiry On Behalf Of Murder Suspects: Byline 09/11/15

Posted by Einar Thorsen