Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed
Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes
(Blink Publishing, hardback £14.99, ebook £9.99)
Reviewed by Paddy French


THIS BOOK tells the story of two young men.

In March 1987 a Welsh private detective called Daniel Morgan was axed to death in south London.

The 37-year-old left behind a widow and two small children.

He also left behind an older brother, Alastair, who made a vow to bring his killers to book.

Alastair wasn’t to know that his pledge would mean he would have to devote the rest of his life to the cause.

It’s been, in effect, a life sentence — with the rest of his personal and professional life taking a back seat to the campaign.

For three decades he’s waged a battle to get police, media and the political establishment to take his brother’s brutal murder seriously.

But, despite five police investigations costing millions of pounds, no-one has ever been convicted of the murder …


“UNTOLD” EXAMINES the scandal from two angles.

One is Alastair’s gruelling year-by-year account of his meetings with obstructive senior police officers and politicians.

Some of the story is told by his partner Kirsteen, a BBC journalist.

The other narrative is a dispassionate account of the case by the writer Peter Jukes.


FOR THIRTY years his family, led by older brother Alastair, has battled to bring the killers to book. One of the biggest obstacles was police corruption in the original investigation.
Photo: courtesy of the Morgan family

He came across the case while covering the hacking scandal.

He then produced the award-winning Untold podcast series about Daniel’s murder which attracted four million listeners across the world.

From that came this book.

At first sight, of course, the title is misleading.

The story is far from “untold” — it’s been reported extensively by some newspapers, especially the Guardian, and has featured in two important books.

There was a chapter on the murder in both former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan’s Bent Coppers (2002) and Untouchables by Laurie Flynn and Michael Gillard (2004).

The case has also featured on the BBC programme Crimewatch.

There have also been many regional TV documentaries.

I made several while I was a producer at ITV’s Wales This Week current affairs series — Daniel’s father was Welsh and Daniel and Alastair grew up in south Wales.

I also helped to persuade colleagues on the London Programme to cover the story in 2004.

Press Gang readers will also be aware of the long series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.


BUT IN A more fundamental sense, the title is right on the money.

The scandal has never received the attention it deserves.

To see why, you only have to compare it with the killing of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in south London in April 1993.

Within five years of Stephen’s murder there was a full-scale public inquiry — headed by Sir William Macpherson — which branded the Metropolitan Police as institutionally racist.

It took the Morgan family 26 years to get the political establishment to pay any attention — and even then it was far from the public inquiry they wanted.

In 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May set up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel.


IN 2013 — more than quarter of a century after the murder — Home Secretary Theresa May established the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. Headed by Baroness O’Loan, the panel meets in secret and is moving at a snail’s pace. Its report will not be published until next year …
Photo: PA

Macpherson took less than two years to produce his report — the Daniel Morgan Panel, which carried out its investigations in private, is still writing theirs.

Stephen’s family also got the dramatic backing of the Daily Mail in 1997 when the paper famously branded the five main suspects as murderers.

In stark contrast, recent coverage by Daily Mail stablemate, the Mail on Sunday, has indulged in a smear campaign against Daniel Morgan.

The Macpherson Inquiry also led to the end of the ‘double jeopardy’ rule — that a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offence — which led to two of Stephen’s assailants being convicted in 2012.

In 2008 the five men suspected of involvement in Daniel’s murder were charged but the case, dogged by unreliable witnesses and missing documents, collapsed.

So why has the Daniel Morgan case not attracted the same level of attention as the Stephen Lawrence murder?

Untold comes up with two inter-locking reasons

— a substantial number of corrupt police detectives with connections to the London underwood and

— their connections with Fleet Street journalists, in particular those working for Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.

The private detective agency Daniel Morgan worked for — Southern Investigations — became one of the key brokers between the two groups in the years following the murder.

At the root of it all is a failure of regulation.

Attempts to introduce proper regulation of the police — especially in relation to corruption — have failed.

The current regulator, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is seen as generally ineffective.

At the same time, Scotland Yard has jealously guarded its right to investigate internal corruption.

It’s proved inadequate to the task.

The same is true of journalism.

The lack of ethics at Rupert Murdoch’s papers has seen its reporters sink ever deeper into corruption and criminality.

The News of the World, the Sun and the Sunday Times have all been tarnished by this descent.

Other papers, most notably the Daily Mirror under former Murdoch protegé Piers Morgan, were dragged into the mire.

The Daily Mail was also dabbling in the “dark arts” of unlawful news gathering.

This led to a reluctance by most papers to cover the Daniel Morgan case because it risked exposing their own wrong-doing.


DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay flowers on the spot in a south London pub carpark where Daniel was axed to death. 
Photo: PA

Only the Guardian resisted the tide — and, in Nick Davies, had the reporter who would eventually expose the sewer.

Unless there’s a fundamental overhaul of the way the police and the press are regulated, it’s inevitable there will be more scandals like Daniel Morgan. 


“UNTOLD” IS an important book — but it could have been even better.

The first drawback is the authors’ decision to end their account in 2013 — four years ago.

Since then there has been a major development.

Four of the five men charged with the murder brought a civil action against the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution.

Earlier this year — as reported in the Pesss Gang article The Business Of Murder — Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

The judge did award substantial damages to one suspect, ex-Scotland Yard detective Sidney Fillery.

This dramatic case is briefly mentioned in the book’s Afterword but a full account could easily have been included.

The book would also benefit from a detailed timeline.

However, the most serious shortcoming is the lack of an index.

For a book destined to become a key textbook this is an essential tool.

The authors say they’ll put most of these matters right in a second edition when the report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel is published.

Despite these flaws, Untold remains one of the most important books ever written about the relationship between the media and the police.

As former Prime Minister Gordon Brown puts in his dedication at the beginning of the book:

“One story about the media has already been told — the tale of phone hacking.”

“Another equally sinister chapter — involving a raft of unanswered allegations about … interference with the process of justice — has yet to be told.”

“Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes’ book is an important contribution to that story.”


THE MAGAZINE Private Eye is continuing its lone campaign to have Dave Cook — the detective in charge of the failed prosecution of the prime suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder — prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. This is despite the family’s insistence that it would be “a travesty of justice” to make him a “scapegoat” for thirty years of failures by Scotland Yard. Press Gang examines the case against Cook …


Press Gang has reported the scandal for many years — see the Daniel Morgan page for a list of the articles published.
The sister website to Press Gang Rebeccahas also reviewed Untold from a Welsh perspective. Click here to read it.



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  1. buriednewsblog Says:

    Reblogged this on Buried News and commented:
    The British Law Enforcers seem to have a lot of questions to answer.

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