Posts Tagged ‘Press Gang’

TORY MP CONCEALED LINK TO MILIBAND TORMENTOR

May 6, 2015
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TORY MP Andrew Jones failed to declare an interest in a company owned by controversial Leeds businesswoman Catherine Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth hit the headlines in last week’s BBC Question Time when she attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough in the last Parliament, helped Shuttleworth set up her marketing business in May 2006.

ANDREW JONES THE MP worked with Catherine Shuttleworth in the late 1990s and was company secretary of her marketing business until 2010. But he didn't tell Parliament about their links ... Photo:

NOT SAVVY
THE MP worked with Catherine Shuttleworth in the late 1990s and was company secretary of her Get Savvy Marketing company until 2010. But he didn’t tell Parliament about the appointment — he says he took no payment from the company after he was elected. 

He was company secretary for more than four years.

He should have declared his interest when he was elected an MP in the May 2010 General Election.

He didn’t do so.

Press Gang investigates the links between an MP and a marketing executive …

♦♦♦

IT WAS the Daily Mail which prompted this inquiry.

The paper lionised Catherine Shuttleworth after she savaged Ed Miliband on Question Time last Thursday over the economy.

She volunteered to be a member of the Question Time audience as an “undecided” voter but declared she was going to vote Conservative during her exchange with the Labour leader.

The Daily Mail hailed her as “the woman who shredded Red Ed”.

It continued:

“How marketing company boss used laser-like precision to lead audience attack on Labour leader.”

However, Twitter comments began revealing that she had signed a letter from 5,025 small businesses to the Daily Telegraph backing the Tories just four days before the programme.

SCAMP Catherine Shuttleworth started her company in 2006 under the name Scamp Marketing. In 2011 she told the Yorkshire Post the company had a turnover of £6.5 million and 70 staff. In December 2013 the company had cash in the bank of £382,000. Photo: BBC

SCAMP
Catherine Shuttleworth started her company in 2006 under the name Scamp Marketing. In 2011 she told the Yorkshire Post Get Savvy Marketing had a turnover of £6.5 million and 70 staff. In December 2013 the company had cash in the bank of £382,000.
Photo: BBC

The letter was clear:

“We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started.”

Other tweets also revealed she’d started her Leeds-based marketing company with Andrew Jones MP.

The Daily Mail allowed Shuttleworth to answer these criticisms in an Exclusive interview on May 1.

The paper asked her if she was a Tory.

“Oh God no,” she replied.

“I’ve never been a member of any political party and I do not intend to be.”

“I’m not a Tory at all. It’s absolute nonsense. Absolutely not, categorically no.”

She signed the Telegraph letter from small businesses:

” … because I agreed with it. I have never done anything like that before.”

She explained how Andrew Jones — Tory MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough and a candidate in tomorrow’s General Election — came to be involved in her business Get Savvy Marketing.

She told the paper:

“Fifteen years ago I worked with Andrew in another business.”

“When I set my business up nine years ago a number of people helped me to do different things and Andrew helped me do some of that.”

“That was long before his political career started.”

“There is no connection, he literally set some stuff up.”

The Daily Mail article was so uncritical of Shuttleworth that Press Gang decided to investigate.

We found most of her comments do not stand up to serious examination …

♦♦♦

WHEN CATHERINE Shuttleworth was an 18-year-old student, she was super-confident.
 
“Never in my whole life have I thought I couldn’t do something,” she told the Yorkshire Post in 2011. 
 
Her “back-up plan”, she told her interviewer, was to be Prime Minister.
 

She didn’t say which party she would be leading …

QUESTIONABLE TIME  DAVID DIMBLEBY should have been sharper during the exchange between the allegedly

QUESTIONABLE TIME
DAVID DIMBLEBY might have been sharper during the exchange between the allegedly “undecided” Shuttleworth and Ed Miliband. When she attacked the Labour leader — over the note Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne left for his successor in 2010 saying: “I’m afraid there is no money” — Dimbleby could have reminded viewers that the Tories have also made similar jokes. In 1964 Tory Chancellor Reginald Maudling left a note to his successor James Callaghan which said: “Good luck, old cock … Sorry to leave it in such a mess.”
Photo: BBC

Shuttleworth went to school in Sheffield and studied retail marketing at Manchester Polytechnic.After working at Allied Carpets and Dixons, she came back to Yorkshire in 1994 when her partner Neal Austin got a job with supermarket group ASDA.

Shuttleworth went to run a marketing company which did work for ASDA.

By 2003, she and her husband were moving up in the world.

They bought a detached house in Weeton Avenue, Leeds for £535,000.

In 2006, her husband left ASDA to become a senior executive at rival Morrisons. 

In the same year, Shuttleworth set up Get Savvy Marketing after winning a big contract from ASDA.

The company secretary was Andrew Jones — the man who would later become Tory MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Jones had spent 25 years in sales and marketing with firms like B&Q, Superdrug, Going Places and Taylors of Harrogate. 

The pair had already worked together.

Jones was never a shareholder in Get Savvy Marketing and Shuttleworth, who began with three-quarters of the shares, soon owned them all. 

But when she told the Daily Mail —

“When I set my business up nine years ago a number of people helped me to do different things and Andrew helped me do some of that.”

“That was long before his political career started.” 

— she wasn’t telling the truth.

Andrew Jones joined the Conservative Party in 1987.

A decade later he was already a well-known figure in Conservative circles and chaired the influential think-tank, the Bow Group, in 1999-2000.

In 2001 he unsuccessfully contested the Harrogate and Knaresbrough constituency. In 2003 he was elected a Tory councillor on Harrogate Borough Council — and rose to become Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources.

He was still company secretary of Get Savvy Marketing when he became an MP …

♦♦♦

WHEN NEW MPs are elected to Parliament, they are expected to declare their financial interests.When Andrew Jones entered the House in 2010, the relevant Code of Conduct stated that its purpose was

” … providing the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence … ”

“Members are required to complete a registration form and submit it … within one month of their election to the House … ”

Any change must be registered within 28 days.

NON-DECLARATION ANDREW JONES' entry in the 2010 Register of Members' Financial Interests. There is no declaration of  his role in Catherine Shuttleworth's company. All he admits to is receiving £872 as a Harrogate Borough councillor in his first two months as an MP.

NON-DECLARATION
ANDREW JONES’ entry in the 2010 Register of Members’ Financial Interests. There is no declaration of his role in Catherine Shuttleworth’s company. All he admits to is receiving £872 as a Harrogate Borough councillor in his first two months as an MP.

The first register of the 2010-2015 Parliament was published on 25 October 2010.

The only entry under Category 2 —  “Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc …” — is Jones’ payments as a Harrogate councillor.

He did not resign from Get Savvy Marketing until the following month.

A spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, told Press Gang:

“During dissolution (i.e. until after the General Election) the Commissioner cannot look at any allegations of breaches of the rules.”

Press Gang will lodge a complaint once the election is over.

We asked Andrew Jones for a comment.

There was no reply by the time this piece was posted in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

However, later that morning he emailed the following statement:

“MPs are required to declare outside earnings in the Register of Members’

Financial Interests, to detail who employed them, how much money was earned, how many hours worked and the nature of the work.From the date I was elected onwards I did no work for the Company, so
therefore received no remuneration. To be clear, while the paperwork and
administrative arrangements were made for terminating my role as Company Secretary and putting in place new arrangements for the Company I did no work and therefore received no payments or benefits of any kind.Had I done so my understanding is that a declaration would have been
required and I would have made such a declaration. There was nothing to
declare, so the Register of Members’ Financial Interests is complete and
correct.”

Press Gang also asked Harrogate Borough Council for the last declaration Andrew Jones made when he was a councillor.We were interested to see if he’d declared his role in Get Savvy Marketing.

After seven hours Giles Latham — the authority’s Communication and Marketing Manager (Organisational Development and Improvement) — came back to say the council couldn’t find it.

We then asked for copies of all Andrew Jones’ declarations during the years he served.

Latham came back to say that this — and other questions — would be considered under the Freedom of Information rules.

This gives the authority up to four working weeks to reply …

♦♦♦

PRESS GANG also emailed Catherine Shuttleworth.

We asked about her false comment to the Daily Mail that Andrew Jones’ involvement in Get Savvy Marketing took place long before he became a politician.

There was no reply by the time this article was posted. 

♦♦♦

Published: 6 May 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦ 

NEXT
DOWN IN THE GUTTER
A FORENSIC examination of Piers Morgan’s celebrated appearance on Desert Island Discs in 2009. He told presenter Kirsty Young phone hacking was one of the “down in the gutter” tactics used on the Daily Mirror.

What he didn’t tell her was that she, too, had been a target of the paper’s “gutter” tactics. In 1998 the paper mounted a surveillance operation to prove she was having an affair with a married man.
The story is also pregnant with the possibility it was based on phone hacking …

 ♦♦♦

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CORRECTIONS
Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY
If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

April 27, 2015

PM - ASSAULT

THE DAILY MIRROR broke the law on an industrial scale throughout Piers Morgan’s editorship.

And police have had the evidence for more than a decade.

Already —in Whodunnit?Press Gang has shown the paper used a private eye to carry out illegal news-gathering in the early 2000s.

This included evidence that former Daily Mirror reporter Tom Newton Dunn — now political editor of the Sun — allegedly ordered a criminal record check on a sitting MP.

Piers Morgan claims he was ignorant of all of this.

He told the Leveson Inquiry he “had no specific recollection of any stories which depended on the work of private investigators …”

He insisted he was “not aware” of any private investigators “having been found to have engaged in any criminal activity … or of any Daily Mirror employee having any involvement in such law-breaking.” 

Press Gang presents new evidence that further undermines this testimony.

The Daily Mirror was routinely using a controversial private eye in the late 1990s to illegally access confidential information about the rich and powerful.

One of the most dramatic examples — the paper’s decision to break into the bank and building society accounts of a powerful Bank of England committee … 

♦♦♦

IT’S A WEDNESDAY morning at the Daily Mirror offices in Canary Wharf.

On the 22nd floor of the big skyscraper — One Canada Square —  the morning conference is under way.

The meeting is taking place in editor Piers Morgan’s corner office.

The next day’s paper — Thursday, 8 October 1998 — is being planned.

One of the items on the agenda: how the paper will cover tomorrow’s lunchtime announcement from the Bank of England on interest rates.

It’s important because a fall in the rate — currently 7.5 per cent — is widely expected.

It will be the first for many years.

The decision — to be made by the nine members of the Bank’s monetary policy committee — could affect the pockets of many Daily Mirror readers.

TARGETS THE NINE members of the Bank of England's monetary committee in 1998. All were the subject of an illegal

TARGETS
MEMBERS OF the Bank of England’s monetary committee in 1998. Many of them were the subject of an illegal “dark arts” operation organised by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror. Although the attack has been mentioned by other journalists — including Nick Davies (Guardian) and Robert Peston (BBC) — this is the first time the full story has ever been told.
Photo: PA

For Thursday’s paper, it’s already been decided the Mirror will find out about the mortgages of the nine committee members.

But there’s an elephant in the room.

Few in the conference will acknowledge it.

But some know collecting the information will involve breaking the law.

None of the members of the monetary committee will volunteer information about their mortgages. 

So the paper will have to resort to illegal techniques to obtain them.

These methods — later they’ll include phone hacking — are known as the “dark arts”. 

The task’s been handed to the paper’s resident “dark arts” master — senior news reporter Gary Jones. 

He served his apprenticeship on the News of the World.

He was the paper’s crime reporter when Piers Morgan was News of the World editor in 1994 and 1995. 

Jones followed Morgan to the Daily Mirror in 1996. 

Jones knows exactly who to contact to find out about the mortgages of the Bank of England committee members.

This is the private eye Jonathan Rees. 

Rees is a partner in Southern Investigations, a London firm specialising in acquiring illegal information. 

BENT PRIVATE EYE IN JONATHAN REES, the Daily Mirror is choosing a controversial character to do its dirty work. He's a long-standing suspect in the 1987 murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan. In 2009 he will stand trial for the murder only for the case to collapse in 2011. By then he will have served a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details. Photo: PA

BENT PRIVATE EYE
IN JONATHAN REES, the Daily Mirror is choosing a controversial character to do its dirty work. He’s a long-standing suspect in the 1987 murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan. In 2009 he will stand trial for the murder only for the case to collapse in 2011. By then he will have served a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details.
Photo: PA

By lunchtime on Wednesday, 7 October Rees has come up with the goods. 

Gary Jones and reporter Oonagh Blackman get together to write the story …

♦♦♦

THE NEXT day’s Daily Mirror carries an exclusive investigation.

Under the by-lines of Oonagh Blackman and Gary Jones, the story states:

“As millions sweat on a home loans cut, we reveal it’s
ALL RATE FOR SOME
Homeowners will have their mortgage rate fixed today by financiers so wealthy that they won’t be affected if it rises or falls.”

The piece reveals five members have no mortgage at all.

UNLAWFUL THE MIRROR'S exclusive report by Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman is based on information obtained by

UNLAWFUL
THE MIRROR’S exclusive report by Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman is based on information obtained by “blagging” — ringing banks and building societies and pretending to represent committee members. Blagging is a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act.

Some of this information could have come from legitimate sources — such as the government-owned Land Registry. 

But details of mortgages held by three members could only have been obtained unlawfully.

The piece says deputy Governor Mervyn King — who will later become Governor — has a £48,000 mortgage.

His apartment in Notting Hill costs him £400 a month in interest payments.

The Cobham, Surrey home of ex-CIA analyst and businesswoman DeAnne Julius costs £2,500 a month. 

She has a £200,000 mortgage. 

Dutch economist Professor Willem Buiter is paying £685 a month. 

He has an £80,000 mortgage on his cottage in the Bedfordshire village of Great Gransden. 

The paper goes to extraordinary lengths to find out about properties owned by the nine. 

There is some doubt about the extent of committee member Ian Plenderleith’s property near Petworth in West Sussex.

So Jonathan Rees sends an “agent” down to Petworth to make a sketch plan of the grounds.

Shortly after the article appears, the committee cut the interest rate from 7.5 per cent to 7.25 per cent.

SILENCE THERE'S NO mention of the illegal assault on the Bank of England in Piers Morgan's 2005 book, The Insider. His diary entry for 7 October 1998 — the day the attack was being prepared — concentrates on a refusal by the columnist Victor Lewis-Smith to come to lunch ... Photo: PA

SILENCE
THERE’S NO mention of the illegal assault on the Bank of England in Piers Morgan’s 2005 book, The Insider. His diary entry for 7 October 1998 — the day the attack was being prepared — concentrates on a refusal by the columnist Victor Lewis-Smith to come to lunch …
Photo: PA

♦♦♦

FOUR DAYS after the exclusive, Jonathan Rees sends three invoices to the Daily Mirror accounts department.

The total is £1,936.

There is little detail — all relate to “undertaking confidential enquiries”.

But a separate statement is sent to Gary Jones personally.

It’s marked

FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY  

This is more revealing.

It shows £361 of the bill is for legitimate purposes.

But it also makes clear that much of the remaining £1,575 is unlawful.

This amount is for nine separate searches of the committee members:

” … identifying their mortgage details as directed.”

The invoice even shows that Rees gave the paper a discount.

Instead of the normal rate of £275 a search, Rees had reduced the price to £175! 

Rees deliberately sends vague invoices to the Mirror accounts department because he knows he’s breaking the law.

So does Gary Jones.

In the Mirror newsroom is a copy of the reporters’ legal bible — McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists.

DARK ARTS MASTER GARY JONES is one of the key figures in the Daily Mirror's involvement with illegal news-gathering. In the first part of

DARK ARTS MASTER
GARY JONES is one of the key figures in the Daily Mirror’s involvement with illegal news-gathering. In the first part of A Pretty Despicable Man, Press Gang outlined his extensive use of the private eye Steve Whittamore in the early 2000s. Jones — now executive editor of the Sunday Mirror — has never replied to any of our questions …

It includes a chapter on the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The DPA had been amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 to create three new criminal offences:

“— procuring the disclosure of data covered by the … Act

— knowing or believing this to contravene the Act

— or offering to sell the data or information extracted from it.”

The Mirror has already published two separate articles about police officers charged with offences under the Data Protection Act.

A year before the assault on the Bank of England, the paper carries the conviction of a masonic police constable from Wiltshire.

He’d checked the Police National Computer to find out the identity of a fellow mason’s lover.

More evidence that Rees and Jones knew they were breaking the law was to emerge in 1999.

Scotland Yard detectives secretly bugged Rees’ office in south London.

Police listened as Rees and Jones argued about the amount of detail going into invoices to the paper.

The Mirror accounts department want more information.

Rees is adamant he isn’t going to give it:

” … because what we are doing is illegal, innit?”

“I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offences …”

All of the information in this account comes from documents held by Scotland Yard.

There’s no evidence detectives ever considered prosecuting Jonathan Rees and Gary Jones.

♦♦♦

TWO MONTHS after the operation against the bank of England, the Daily Mirror has another bank in its sights.

This time it’s Coutts & Co — bankers to the Royal Family.

The target is the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent.

His commercial activities are handled by a private company — Cantium Ltd — which banks at Coutts HQ in the Strand.

Once again, the private eye involved is Jonathan Rees.

And his contact at the paper is Gary Jones.

Rees has already written to Jones giving numbers of three of the company’s Coutts accounts.

ROYAL BANKERS THE HEADQUARTERS of Coutts & Co in the Strand, London. The Daily Mirror's blagger had no trouble getting the details of three accounts belonging to the Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent. Photo: Rebecca Television

ROYAL BANKERS
THE HEADQUARTERS of Coutts & Co in the Strand, London. The Daily Mirror blagger had no trouble getting the details of three accounts belonging to Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s cousin.
Photo: Rebecca Television

Now Rees asks John Gunning — of his team of “blaggers” — to ring the bank pretending to represent Prince Michael.

(Gunning will later be caught trying to blag confidential information out of BT.

In 2006 he’ll be convicted and fined £600.)

The next day — 26 January 1999 —  Prince Michael of Kent is on the front page of the paper with the headline:

PRINCE’S BANK CRISIS

The story says the company’s bank accounts are overdrawn to the tune of £220,000. 

It claims the overdraft is unauthorised — and that Coutts has frozen the accounts.

The operation against the Prince costs the Mirror £546.37.

In April 1999 the Scotland Yard bug in Jonathan Rees’ office picks up a phone call about this story.

The police note says Rees has been told Prince Michael is suing the Daily Mirror.

“The legal people wanted [Rees] to verify the information and state how he obtained it.”

Rees refuses.

In June 1999 — unable to prove its allegations without revealing the information is illegally obtained — the Mirror is forced to climb down.

The paper says

“… none of the accounts of Prince Michael … have been frozen or suspended and there have never been any unauthorised overdraft balances on any of those accounts.”

The Mirror adds:

“We accept that our original allegations were untrue …”

On this occasion, Scotland Yard did consider the case to see if any criminal offences had been committed.

A report seen by Press Gang states:

“The relevant evidence shows that Rees obtained personal data — the account numbers of Cantium — and then sold that information to Gary Jones.”

“The relevant offence … is covered by Section 55 [4] Data Protection Act … — Selling Personal Data.”

“This offence may be capable of proof.”

No further action is ever taken by the Metropolitan Police.

♦♦♦

IN JANUARY 1999 Prince Michael of Kent isn’t the only Royal in the Mirror’s frame.

Earlier the same month, it’s the Queen’s third son — Prince Edward.

He’s just become engaged to Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The Mirror orders “financial / company information on” the Prince and his new fiancée.

The Prince’s television production company —  Ardent Productions — has its accounts at Coutts. 

On January 5 Rees sends Gary Jones a bill for £339.57 for obtaining Ardent Productions’ “bankers details”. 

On January 12 Jones gets another bill — for £446.49.

This is for providing “financial / company information” on “R-JH PR, Ardent Productions”.

On this occasion, the blagger is John Gunning.

He targets Coutts and Lloyds Bank.   

At the time, Sophie Rhys-Jones is running a PR firm with the publicist Murray Harkin.

The business banks with Lloyds in the City of London. 

BLAGGED SOPHIE RHYS-JONES and Murray Harkin were partners in the public relations business RJH PR. Harkin remembers getting a call from Lloyds Bank during this period.

BLAGGED
SOPHIE RHYS-JONES and Murray Harkin were partners in the public relations business RJH PR. Harkin confirmed getting a call from Lloyds Bank during this period. “I was told they knew someone had successfully — after many attempts, perhaps as many as 26 — guessed my password and obtained confidential information.”
Photo: PA

John Gunning invoices Jonathan Rees.

His bill contains details of Lloyds Bank account number 121131 — the account of RJH PR — and its credit balance: £9,761.34.

Gunning even manages to obtain details of a personal account of Sophie Rhys-Jones’ at the same branch.

This account has a zero balance.  

None of this information ever appears in the Mirror.

It’s a fishing expedition.

But the Scotland Yard assessment of the case — seen by Press Gang — is clear criminal offences have been committed:  

” … the detail of Rhys-Jones’ bank account — both business and personal — prove evidence of procuring the disclosure to another of personal data.”

Rees “… also commits the offence of selling the information …”

There is no mention of Gary Jones — the man who commissions the criminal activity.

The report concludes:

“It is obvious that additional enquiries would have to be made to confirm details but the basic points to prove are present.”

Scotland Yard takes no further action. 

A spokeswoman for Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex declined to comment. 

Murray Harkin told Press Gang he will be instructing solicitors to ask the Metropolitan Police to release the documents it holds.

He added:

“if a criminal offence has been undertaken then I believe that the people responsible should be accountable.”

The Daily Mirror’s long-standing comment on the use of Jonathan Rees is that “many years ago some of our journalists used Southern Investigations.”

“They were last used in 1999.”

“Trinity Mirror’s position is clear. Our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct.”

SCOTLAND YARD THE DOCUMENTS on which this article is based come from the Met's Operation Two Bridges which targeted Jonathan Rees in 1998-1999. They were first leaked in 2002 by senior figures in the Met to the former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan after Rees was gaoled for conspiring to plant drugs on an innocent woman. Since then many reporters have also obtained copies of the material. Photo: Rebecca Television

SCOTLAND YARD
THE MET have been sitting on the documents used in this article ever since 1999.  They come from Operation Two Bridges which targeted Jonathan Rees in 1998-1999. Some of them were first given by senior figures in the Met to the then BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan in 2002 after Rees was gaoled for conspiring to plant drugs on an innocent woman. 
Photo: Rebecca Television

♦♦♦

THE MIRROR’S relationship with Jonathan Rees was shattered on 29 September 1999.

On that day, detectives arrested Rees in connection with a conspiracy to deprive an innocent woman of her child.

Police had bugged Rees’ office in Thornton Heath, south London and heard the plot unfold.

A client of Rees was involved in a custody battle with his estranged wife.

Rees suggested arranging with a corrupt police detective to plant cocaine in her car.

Police were watching as the drugs were planted and the woman arrested.

Then they pounced.

In raids across London, detectives gathered the evidence on which this article is based.

Rees was gaoled for six years for his part in the cocaine conspiracy.

When he appealed against the length of his sentence, it was increased it to seven.

Scotland Yard also wanted to charge Sunday Mirror reporter Doug Kempster for paying a police officer for confidential information.

Piers Morgan had no connection with the Sunday Mirror.

The CPS decided not to prosecute.

Despite this scare, the Daily Mirror’s addiction to the “dark arts” continued.

PIERS MORGAN THE FORMER Daily Mirror editor in happier times with his old friends Andy Coulson (gaoled) and Rebekah Brooks (acquitted). Six days ago — on April 21 — Morgan was interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives from Operation Golding about phone hacking while he was Mirror editor. This followed an earlier interview at the end of 2013. He was not arrested on either occasion. As well as his ITV programme Life Stories, Morgan is also US

PIERS MORGAN
THE FORMER Daily Mirror editor in happier times with his old friends Andy Coulson (ex-editor News of the World: gaoled) and Rebekah Brooks (ex-editor The Sun: acquitted). Six days ago — on April 21 — Morgan was interviewed under caution by Scotland Yard detectives from Operation Golding investigating phone hacking while he was Mirror editor. This followed an earlier interview at the end of 2013. He was not arrested on either occasion. As well as his ITV programme Life Stories, Morgan is currently US “editor-at-large” for the Daily Mail online website. He does not comment on Press Gang articles …
Photo: Richard Young / Rex

The paper simply turned to another private eye — Steve Whittamore.

Illegal news-gathering continued for a further three years until Whittamore was arrested in 2003.

For more on this, see the Press Gang article Whodunnit? 

♦♦♦

Published: 27 April 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦ 

NEXT
DOWN IN THE GUTTER
A FORENSIC examination of Piers Morgan’s celebrated appearance on Desert Island Discs in 2009. He told presenter Kirsty Young phone hacking was one of the “down in the gutter” tactics used on the Daily Mirror.

What he didn’t tell her was that she, too, had been a target of the paper’s “gutter” tactics. In 1998 the paper mounted a surveillance operation to prove she was having an affair with a married man.
The story is also pregnant with the possibility it was based on phone hacking …

 ♦♦♦

JOIN THE GANGBUSTERS …
THERE’S A need for a trustworthy website to expose rogue reporters. Press Gang is that outlet — fearless and fair. Join us by becoming a gangbuster and help pay some of our expenses. Just hit the button …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

CORRECTIONS
Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY
If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

ROGUE JOURNALISTS & BENT COPPERS

February 19, 2015

corrupt_header_02

IN JULY last year, Home Secretary Theresa May set up an independent panel to investigate the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan.

She appointed Baroness Nuala O’Loan, former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman from 2000 to 2007, to head the inquiry.

The Home Secretary said:

“The remit of the Panel is to shine a light on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan’s murder, its background and the handling of the case over the period since 1987.”

“Serious allegations of police corruption have surrounded the investigations into the murder of Daniel Morgan.”

THE STORY SO FAR ... JONATHAN REES (left) the partner of the murdered Daniel Morgan — found with an axe buried in his face in a pub car park in 1987 —has long been a suspect in the case. The previous article, An Axe To Grind, told of the dispute between the two men over Rees' claim that he had been mugged of £18,000. One of the first police officers on the murder investigation was detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) who did not tell his superiors he was a personal friend of Rees. At the inquest, a witness sensationally claimed Rees told him he was looking for someone to murder his partner. It was also revealed that Sid Fillery had retired from Scotland Yard — and stepped into the dead Daniel Morgan's shoes as Rees' new partner. In 2008 Rees and three other men were charged with the murder and Fillery with perverting the course of justice but the case never reached a jury, finally collapsing in March 2011. Although the judge, Mr Justice Maddison, noted that police had "ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the accused", all five defendants have launched a £4 million compensation case against the Metropolitan Police Service. Photos: PA

THE STORY SO FAR …
JONATHAN REES (left) the partner of the murdered Daniel Morgan — found with an axe buried in his face in a pub car park in 1987 — has long been a suspect in the case. The previous article, An Axe To Grind, told of the dispute between the two men over Rees’ claim that he had been mugged of £18,000. One of the first police officers on the murder investigation was detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) who did not tell his superiors he was a personal friend of Rees. At the inquest, a witness sensationally claimed Rees told him he was looking for someone to murder his partner. It was also revealed that Sid Fillery had retired from Scotland Yard — and stepped into the dead Daniel Morgan’s shoes as Rees’ new partner. In 2008 Rees and three other men were charged with the murder and Fillery with perverting the course of justice but the case never reached a jury, finally collapsing in March 2011. Although the judge, Mr Justice Maddison, noted that police had “ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the accused”, all five defendants have since launched a £4 million compensation case against the Metropolitan Police Service.
Photos: PA

“I have made it clear that the Independent Panel should leave no stone unturned in its pursuit of the truth.”

This was, in fact, Theresa May’s second attempt to get the process under way.

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THIS 3,800 word article is the second instalment of an investigation that started more than a decade ago.
For 30 years the Daniel Morgan murder was largely ignored by the UK newspapers and broadcasters.
In part, this was because the News of the World was in a commercial relationship with Southern Investigations.
Press Gang is independent and does not carry advertising. It runs at a loss and the only source of income is donations.
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She’d originally set up the inquiry in May 2013 but the judge she chose to head it — Sir Stanley Burnton — controversially stepped down six months later for what were described as “personal reasons”.

In fact, he lost the confidence of some of his fellow panel members because he took decisions without consulting them.

One of the areas Baroness O’Loan will be examining is the relationship between tabloid journalists and police detectives.

In this second part of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency, Press Gang charts the rise of Southern Investigations as one of the market leaders in the illegal sale of valuable confidential Scotland Yard information.

Some of this story is already in the public domain.

But Press Gang has also obtained dramatic new material from police sources.

These contacts received no payment.

♦♦

AFTER THE sensational events surrounding Daniel Morgan’s murder died away, Southern Investigations began to expand a profitable part of the business.

The dead man’s former partner Jonathan Rees and retired police detective sergeant Sid Fillery became one of the major clearing houses of confidential information provided by corrupt police officers.

They sold the information to Britain’s tabloid press, especially the News of the World.

DANIEL MORGAN THE UNSOLVED murder of Daniel Morgan has cast a long shadow on the reputation of Scotland Yard. As Tory MP Tracey Crouch has said: "There is something about the Daniel Morgan murder that makes the Establishment very nervous ... it is important we find out what it is and get justice for Daniel and his family." Photo: Morgan Family

DANIEL MORGAN
THE UNSOLVED murder of Daniel Morgan casts a dark shadow on the reputation of Scotland Yard. As Tory MP Tracey Crouch has said: “There is something about the Daniel Morgan murder that makes the Establishment very nervous … it is important we find out what it is and get justice for Daniel and his family.”
Photo: Morgan Family

Guardian reporter Nick Davies, in his book Hack Attack, stated:

“In a single year, 1996-97, the News of the World paid Southern a total of more than £160,000.”

Fillery later gave a revealing interview about the agency’s activities for the 2004 book Untouchables.

“Sid Fillery,” wrote authors Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn, “is a big jovial, Toby jug of a man.”

“With sad spaniel’s eyes and a laugh as large as the London Palladium, he seems on first impressions as if he could have stepped out of an episode of Dixon of Dock Green.”

Fillery said one of the agency’s key contacts was News of the World reporter Alex Marunchak.

In 1989, two years after the murder of Daniel Morgan, Marunchak came to the Victory pub in Thornton Heath to talk to the partners about doing business with the paper.

Rees and Fillery quickly built up a profitable business selling information to News of the World reporters.

They were even involved with the paper’s now-disgraced investigative reporter Mahzer Mahmood.

On one occasion, Fillery dressed up as an English private secretary while Mahmood played his role of the ‘fake sheik’.

They were also involved in the story about Paddy Ashdown’s affair with a House of Commons secretary.

Documents stolen from the office of the Liberal politician’s solicitor were being touted around Fleet Street.

Southern Investigations were asked by Alex Marunchak to meet the man who was trying to sell them.

But a corrupt Scotland Yard detective, Duncan Hanrahan, who was in the Southern Investigations office at the time, sabotaged the meeting.

Hanrahan had been one of the detectives who “investigated” the robbery of Jonathan Rees back in 1986 when muggers allegedly took £18,000 off him.

(See Part One: An Axe To Grind for more on this.)

CORRUPT COPPER DUNCAN HANRAHAN came to grief when he was caught red-handed trying to corrupt a member of Scotland Yard's anti-corruption team. In 1999 he was gaoled for eight years and four months after pleading guilty to 11 offences, including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Photo: PA

CORRUPT COPPER
DUNCAN HANRAHAN came to grief when he was caught red-handed trying to corrupt a member of Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption team. In 1999 he was gaoled for eight years and four months after pleading guilty to 11 offences, including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Photo: PA

Authors Gillard and Flynn say Hanrahan told them he had a grudge against Marunchak after he gave him information which turned up in another newspaper.

Hanrahan believed Marunchak, instead of using the story in the News of the World and paying him, had given the information to a rival newspaper and pocketed the proceeds himself.

In retaliation, Hanrahan tipped off the City of London police who got to the rendezvous with the man selling the Ashdown documents before Southern Investigation’s man could get there.

♦♦♦

IN THE 1990s, Southern Investigations were asked to investigate allegations that some Murdoch journalists were moonlighting and selling information to rivals.

At the same time, the News of the World had spies on its main tabloid rivals.

In 1994, for example, Piers Morgan was News of the World editor.

In his book The Insider, Morgan wrote:

“… we have one of the Sunday Mirror’s journalists on our pay roll, bunging him £250 a week for a rundown of their stories, and more if he gives us a big one.”

“It’s a disgrace, of course, and totally unethical.”

“But very handy.”

“To make it even more amusing, he’s their crime correspondent.”

“We also, unbelievably, have a similar source on the Sunday People, a secretary who does the same for a bit less money.”

“So for under £500 a week we always know what our competitors are doing.”

In November 1995, when Piers Morgan became editor of the Daily Mirror, he moved against the spies.

“The Sunday Mirror journalist and the Sunday People secretary have been fired.”

“I’d given them a month to stop and incredibly they had just carried on.”

“So I fired them.”

TABLOID SPIES PIERS MORGAN was editor of the News of the World when the paper was paying spies on rival Mirror group papers.  Photo: PA

TABLOID SPIES
PIERS MORGAN was editor of the News of the World when the paper was spying on rival Mirror group papers.
Photo: PA

As the 1990s progressed, the links between the News of the World reporters and Southern Investigations deepened.

In 1996, Alex Marunchak and Greg Miskiw, another News of the World reporter, became directors of an import / export company called Abbeycover.

Abbeycover, which apparently imported alcohol from eastern Europe, had its registered address at Southern Investigations’ Thornton Heath offices.

(In July 2014 Greg Miskiw was given a six months prison sentence after pleading guilty to phone hacking in the same trial that saw the conviction of Andy Coulson.)

And the money wasn’t just flowing from the News of the World — Southern Investigations were also paying Marunchak for what it called “consultancy services”.

In 1998, for example, the News of the World reporter was allegedly paid hundreds of pounds.

No-one is prepared to say what the reporter did in return for these “consultancy services”.

There have also been allegations that his children’s school fees were occasionally paid by the agency and that his credit card was cleared by Rees and Fillery.

Marunchak denies all these allegations (see note 4).

♦♦♦

IN THE late 1990s Scotland Yard made a determined bid to stop tabloid reporters corrupting serving officers to get their hands on confidential police information.

Its secret anti-corruption team, CIB3, targeted Southern Investigations in Operation Two Bridges (originally called Operation Nigeria).

There was evidence that a group of corrupt serving and retired police officers were passing valuable information from inside Scotland Yard to the agency.

BUGGED JONATHAN REES caught by secret police cameras outside the offices of Southern Investigations. The premises had also been broken into and bugs planted ...  Photo: PA

BUGGED
JONATHAN REES caught by secret police cameras outside the offices of Southern Investigations. The premises had also been broken into and bugged …
Photo: PA

At the same time, the murder of Daniel Morgan remained unsolved and the family’s campaign against the Metropolitan Police was embarrassing the force.

“I find it incredible that it took ten years for the Met to install a bug in their offices — why wasn’t it done years earlier?” asks Alastair Morgan.

In his book, Bent Coppers, former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan noted:

“Southern [Investigations] were also starting to try and undermine the Yard’s crackdown on corruption by spreading stories and rumours about some of those involved with it…”

In June 1999 CIB3, the Met’s anti-corruption unit, launched Operation Two Bridges.

They installed a bug in the offices of Southern Investigations in the south London suburb of Thornton Heath.

Documents written by anti-corruption detectives were later leaked to McLagan.

One of these stated:

“For a considerable period of time, there has been much spoken about DS Sid Fillery and his business partner … Rees being involved in corrupt activities involving serving police officers.”

Another stated:

” … the intelligence indicates that Fillery and Rees are corrupters of police officers and participants in organised crime.”

Rees and Fillery, the report went on:

“… are alert, cunning and devious individuals who have current knowledge of investigative methods and techniques which may be used against them.”

“They use some of the techniques in their own daily activities.”

Between June and September 1999, anti-corruption detectives monitored the day-to-day business of the detective agency.

Officers listened as Southern Investigations obtained information about the royal family from police officers to sell to newspapers.

Transcripts revealed that News of the World reporter Alex Marunchak was one of the agency’s major clients.

In one phone conversation, in July, Rees said the paper owed Southern Investigations £7,555.

In this period the agency sent 66 invoices to the News of the World — worth £13,000 — all but one of them addressed to Alex Marunchak.

ALEX MARUNCHAK A KEY News of the World executive for several decades, Marunchak was an important customer for Southern Investigations.  Photo: BBC

ALEX MARUNCHAK
A KEY News of the World executive for several decades, Marunchak was an important customer for Southern Investigations. Marunchak comes from a Ukrainian family and for many years acted as an interpreter for Scotland Yard.
Photo: BBC

In September 2002, Graeme McLagan wrote an article for the Guardian.

He revealed that Rees had sold information to News of the World reporter Alex Marunchak about the criminal Kenneth Noye, convicted of the M25 road rage murder.

When McLagan asked Marunchak if he disputed that he had bought information from Rees, Marunchak said:

“You haven’t heard me admit it.”

♦♦♦

ONE OF the corrupt police officers who was bugged talking to Southern Investigations was a detective constable called Tom Kingston.

He was later gaoled for three and a half years for stealing and selling amphetamines.

The bugs revealed Kingston had a police contact who was prepared to sell information.

“It took anti-corruption detectives little effort,” wrote McLagan in his book Bent Coppers, “to work out that Kingston’s contact was one of his best friends, and that he was passing, through the suspended detective, sensitive information from a confidential police publication called the Police Gazette.”

“Kingston was then selling it to a reporter with a Sunday tabloid newspaper, a regular visitor to Southern Investigations.”

McLagan did not name this journalist but Press Gang has established it was Doug Kempster, then a reporter on the Mirror-owned Sunday Mirror.

Before joining the Mirror stable in 1996, Kempster had worked for the News of the World.

McLagan did not name the police officer but Press Gang understands it was Paul Valentine, at the time attached to the Special Escort Group based in Barnes.

In 2002 McLagan asked Kempster, who was working as a government press officer by then, about his links with Southern.

Kempster told him:

“It’s something we just don’t comment on.”

Some of the information obtained by Kempster also found its way to another journalist, Gary Jones on the Daily Mirror.

Jones also bought information directly from the agency.

(Jones will be familiar to Press Gang readers from the Whodunnit? article in the series about Piers Morgan, A Pretty Despicable Man.

Jones was the News of the World crime reporter whose contacts gave him access to a confidential Scotland Yard report in 1994.

This sensationally revealed that Princess Diana had been making anonymous phone calls to London art dealer Oliver Hoare.

GARY JONES A FORMER News of the World crime reporter, Jones followed Piers Morgan to the Daily Mirror. Today, he's a senior executive editor at the Mirror Group. He's always declined to talk to Press Gang.  Photo: Rebecca Television

GARY JONES
A FORMER News of the World crime reporter, Jones followed Piers Morgan to the Daily Mirror. He was one of the most important customers of Southern Investigations. Currently a senior executive editor at the Mirror Group, he’s always declined to talk to Press Gang
Photo: Rebecca Television

It is not known if Southern Investigations were involved in this tale.)

In July 1999 Rees and Kingston were overheard discussing an officer in the diplomatic protection squad whose firearms certificate was withdrawn because he was taking steroids.

The information led to an article written by Gary Jones.

In March 2011 the BBC Panorama programme uncovered another extract from the transcripts generated in the bugging operation at Southern Investigations.

The programme revealed that, in July 1999, there was an angry exchange between Rees and Gary Jones of the Daily Mirror.

The reporter was under pressure from his accounts department to give more details about the payments he was authorising to Southern Investigations.

Rees insisted that he wasn’t going to provide any more details:

“What we’re doing is illegal, isn’t it?” he said.

“You know I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offences.”

♦♦♦

JONATHAN REES was given the codename “Avon” during the bugging operation of Southern Investigations.

The transcripts show the relationship between Alex Marunchak of the News of the World and the agency was deep but troubled.

On one occasion, in 1999, Marunchak demanded to know what information the agency were selling to his rival, Doug Kempster of the Sunday Mirror.

In a conversation with Sid Fillery, Rees said he told the News of the World reporter it was none of his business.

When Marunchak hinted that if Southern were engaged in illegal activity, the firm risked being raided by the police, Rees took this as a threat.

He told Fillery that, if Southern or any of its contacts were raided by the police, he would tell the News of the World the names of its reporters who were taking backhanders from Southern Investigations:

“I’ll say your fucking paper will get fucking tipped off about who gets backhanders.”

♦♦♦

AS OPERATION Two Bridges unfolded, anti-corruption detectives felt a successful prosecution against Rees and some of his sources would send a powerful shot across the bows of the tabloids.

One report noted:

“It is likely that journalists and private investigators who actively corrupt serving officers would receive a long custodial sentence if convicted.”

“There will be a high level of media interest in this particular investigation, especially when involving journalists.”

“The Metropolitan Police will undoubtedly benefit if a journalist is convicted of corrupting serving police officers.”

“This will send a clear message to members of the media to consider their own ethical and illegal involvement with employees of the Met in the future.”

Operation Two Bridges came to a dramatic but early close because detectives were forced to deal with Jonathan Rees’ attempts to plant drugs on an innocent woman. 

Even so, detectives still felt they had enough to question four suspects about the illegal sale of confidential Scotland Yard information.

Doug Kempster was arrested at his parents’ home, where a page from the Police Gazette was found.

During the later search of Kempster’s own home:

” … the postman delivered a letter in a large brown envelope addressed to Douglas Kempster … containing a short letter from JR [Jonathan Rees] … also containing an original issue of the copy of the Police Gazette …”

Kempster’s response to all questions put to him was:

“No comment”.

Rees was arrested.

RAIDS ANTI-CORRUPTION DETECTIVES from the Met arrested two serving police officers  suspected of selling confidential information to Jonathan Rees and Mirror group journalist Doug Kempster. Photo: Rebecca Television

RAIDS
ANTI-CORRUPTION DETECTIVES from the Met arrested two serving police officers suspected of selling confidential information to Jonathan Rees and Mirror group journalist Doug Kempster.
Photo: Rebecca Television

Rees claimed that the bug in Southern Investigations violated his human rights.

Kingston was arrested at his home.

He later read out a prepared statement denying his involvement in any illegal activity.

The Met officer, Paul Valentine from the Special Escort Group, was also arrested.

He had no comment to make when he was questioned about the corruption allegations.

♦♦♦

IN 2000, the anti-corruption team submitted an advice file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The report sought advice about whether there was enough evidence to charge the four men — Jonathan Rees, Doug Kempster and serving police officers Tom Kingston and Paul Valentine — with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The evidence was based mainly on the bugs installed in Southern Investigations in 1999 as part of Operation Two bridges.

In the transcripts, all four suspects were given codenames based on rivers:

Rees is “Avon”

Kempster: “Dart”

Kingston: “Ganges” 

Valentine: “Severn”.

One of the incidents highlighted was the loss of a copy of the Police Gazette in July 1999.

Southern Investigations had given it to Doug Kempster who then gave it to a senior executive on the paper who’d taken it home to read.

Kempster rang Rees to say:

"AVON" CALLING JONATHAN REES: when police searched his his home and office, they found copies of a confidential internal police magazine ... Rees claimed his human rights had been violated. Photo: PA

“AVON” CALLING
JONATHAN REES: when police searched his home and office, they found copies of a confidential internal police magazine. Rees claimed the search violated his human rights …
Photo: PA

“I can’t believe it— he’s fucking thrown it out — the fucking wanker — why did he take it home?”

For legal reasons Press Gang can’t name this executive.

Detective constable Tom Kingston, who was in the office, told Rees that Kempster had to get it back:

” … or else he won’t get any more.”

A couple of hours later, Kempster himself arrived at Southern Investigations.

He agreed to pay £200 to make up for the lost edition of the Police Gazette.

Rees and Kingston then moved on to discuss an identity parade where the M25 road rage murderer Kenneth Noye was due to appear.

They had given this information to Kempster who had published an article in the Sunday Mirror about it.

The price for the information, allegedly, was £400 split £100 for an unnamed police officer with the remaining £300 to be shared between Kingston and Rees.

Other transcripts indicate that the police officer Paul Valentine may have been receiving a monthly retainer of £150 from Southern Investigations.

On another occasion, Kempster visited Southern Investigations and he and Rees discussed the contents of an edition of Police Gazette.

Kempster responds to one article by saying:

“Asians look a lot better dead” and he and Rees joke about a “one-legged nigger.”

The report from the anti-corruption team concludes:

“sensitive police documents have been obtained without authority and passed to journalists for a financial consideration by Rees and Kingston.”

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute.

♦♦♦
Published: 19 February 2015
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

 

NOTES
1
There have been recent developments in this affair — see Daniel Morgan page here 
for more details.
2
This article is part two of a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011.
To view part one, click on An Axe To Grind.
Back in 2011, Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments. 

Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said:
“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”
“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or other.”
No legal action was taken.
Jonathan Rees’ position has been explored in a Mail on Sunday article which can be read here.
3

This article draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as by other journalists, including Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC journalist Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers.  It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s Untouchables. Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack, Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch.
4
Alex Marunchak gave a detailed rebuttal of the allegations made against him in an interview with the Press Gazette website. Read it here.
5
The current Daniel Morgan Independent Panel comprises Baroness Nuala O’Loan (chair), Professor Rodney Morgan (ex HM Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales) and Samuel Pollock OBE (chief executive of the Northern Ireland Policing Board).
6

Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales. 

 ♦♦♦

NEXT
THE NO 1 Corrupt Detective Agency continues with Porridge. Jonathan Rees was acquitted of murder and Sid Fillery of attempting to pervert the course of justice. But the Daniel Morgan murder investigation brought them to book for other crimes — Rees for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother and Fillery of making indecent images of children being sexually abused.

♦♦♦

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AN AXE TO GRIND

January 27, 2015

corrupt_header

IN MAY 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May announced a judge-led inquiry into the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.

Her decision came two years after the prosecution of five suspects collapsed at the Old Bailey.

Five separate police investigations had failed to bring the killers to book.

The Home Secretary said:

“The horrific murder of Daniel Morgan and subsequent investigations were dogged by serious allegations of police corruption.”

This article — the first in The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency series — lays bare the extraordinary sequence of events that lies behind that statement.

It reads like pulp fiction.

Except it’s true …

♦♦♦

THE STORY starts in the car-park of a pub in south London in 1987.

Private detective Daniel Morgan leaves the Golden Lion in Sydenham and is walking to his car.

It’s just after nine o’clock in the evening.

DANIEL MORGAN Scotland Yard's failure to bring his killer to justice became an enduring stain on its reputation.  Yard. Photo: courtesy of the Morgan family.  Photo: PA

DANIEL MORGAN
SCOTLAND YARD’S  failure to bring the killer of the 34-year-old to justice remains an enduring stain on its reputation..
Photo: PA

He’s carrying crisps for his young children.

A meeting with Jonathan Rees — his partner in the private detective agency Southern Investigations — has just ended.

In the weeks before this meeting, the two men have been arguing about a security operation that went wrong.

Rees arranged to handle the security for a car auction business only to be robbed of more than £18,000 in cash.

The owners of the car auction are not satisfied with Rees’ explanation — that he was mugged — and start legal proceedings to recover their money.

Southern Investigations does not have insurance to carry cash.

Morgan, who didn’t want anything to do with the job, is unhappy that he should have to pay half the bill.

Rees leaves the pub before Morgan.

PRIME SUSPECT  Jonathan Rees has been the prime suspect in the case. He's always denied any involvement and is now suing the police. Press Gang has discovered he's been taken to court by a firm of solicitors over an unpaid legal bill. Photo: PA

JONATHAN REES
ONE OF the prime suspects in the case, Rees has always denied any involvement and is now suing the police. He enjoyed the company of police detectives — some of them later convicted of corruption …
Photo: PA

He’s parked at the front of the building.

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THIS ARICLE is the first instalment of an investigation that started more than a decade ago.
For 30 years the Daniel Morgan murder was largely ignored by the UK newspapers and broadcasters.
In part, this was because the News of the World was in a commercial relationship with Southern Investigations.
Press Gang is independent and does not carry advertising. It runs at a loss and the only source of income is donations.
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When Morgan walks to the car-park, a man attacks the father of two with an axe.

The attack is so ferocious that the axe is buried deep in the dead man’s face.

More than two decades later five men will be charged in connection with the murder.

The prosecution case is that the man who wields the axe is Glenn Vian.

The man who acts as look-out is Gary Vian.

The Vians are Rees brothers-in-law.

He uses them as part-time security guards.

Private detective Jonathan Rees is the bait to get Morgan to the pub.

The man who drives the getaway car is Jimmy Cook, an occasional employee of Southern Investigations.

Retired Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery is the last of the defendants.

He will be accused of perverting the course of justice …

♦♦♦

SID FILLERY is one of the key players in the Daniel Morgan scandal.

Fillery is a friend of Rees — and one of the first detectives on the case.

SID FILLERY  Sid Fillery: for four days in 1987 he was a key officer in the Morgan murder investigation. He claimed he left the investigation when it became clear that there was a conflict of interest. His boss, however, said that he ordered him off the inquiry when he discovered he was linked to Rees. Fillery was arrested shortly afterwards but released without charge. In 2002 he was convicted of fifteen counts of making indecent images of children. Photo: PA

SID FILLERY
FOR FOUR days in 1987 the detective sergeant was a key officer in the Morgan murder investigation. He claimed he withdrew when it became clear there was a conflict of interest. His boss, however, said he ordered him off the inquiry when he discovered he was linked to Rees. Fillery was arrested shortly afterwards but released without charge. In 2002 he was convicted of fifteen counts of making indecent images of children.
Photo: PA

He’s based at Catford Police Station — its patch includes the Golden Lion.

For several days he will not tell his bosses that Rees and the dead man were arguing about the car auction robbery.

Fillery does not tell his superiors that he and officers from Catford have been moonlighting as security guards for Rees.

Or that it was Fillery himself who brought the car auction business and Rees together.

Shortly after the murder, Fillery will retire from the police and step into the dead man’s shoes as Jonathan Rees’ new partner.

In 2008 all five men will be arrested in connection with the murder.

But the case never goes to trial — a series of pre-trial hearings results in the court refusing to admit the evidence of prosecution witnesses.

The case finally collapses in March 2011.

♦♦♦

DANIEL MORGAN set up Southern Investigations in 1984.

He’d learnt the business working for the Croydon detective agency Madagans. 

Later he was joined by another private detective, Jonathan Rees.

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL  DANIEL'S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay a wreath at the place where he died. Photo: PA

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL
DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay a wreath at the place where he died.
Photo: PA

But the two men were chalk and cheese. 

Morgan was a hard-working loner with a reputation as a womaniser. 

Rees was sociable and liked to spend time in the pub with his mates — many of them policemen.

Tensions built up between the two. 

Daniel saw himself as a grafter and complained he was doing the lion’s share of the work. 

He talked to his older brother Alastair about these tensions:

“I remember him saying to me once — I drove 40,000 miles last year and that guy hangs around in a bar drinking with his CID mates”.

“He was upset about it”.

Rees liked the company of police detectives — one of his closest friends was Sid Fillery.

The two men were freemasons.

They often attended an unofficial lunch club at the Croydon Masonic Hall for serving and retired police officers and their friends.

It was called “Brothers in Law”.

♦♦♦

THE YEAR before the murder Rees took a job organising the security for a local firm called Belmont Car Auctions in Charlton.

The firm had recently been robbed of £17,000 and wanted better protection at the site.

One of the directors was related to a local policeman who introduced him to Fillery.

Fillery suggested he get in touch with Rees.

Rees recruited police officer friends, including Sid Fillery, to help out during the auctions.

He also employed his brothers-in-law Glenn and Gary Vian.

GLENN VIAN ONE OF the security guards on the Belmont job was Rees' brother-in-law Glenn Vian. He would later be accused of axing Daniel Morgan to death ...  Photo: PA

GLENN VIAN
ONE OF the security guards on the Belmont job was Rees’ brother-in-law Glenn Vian. He would later be accused of axing Daniel Morgan to death …
Photo: PA

One night in March 1986 Rees took £18,000 in takings which he intended to deposit in a Midland Bank nightsafe. 

He said the nightsafe had been superglued shut and decided to take the money home.

He claimed that after he parked his car, he was attacked by two men.

Liquid was sprayed in his eyes and the money stolen. 

He was taken to hospital for treatment.

One of the detectives who investigated the alleged robbery was detective constable Duncan Hanrahan.

Hanrahan — another freemason who attended the “Brothers in Law” club and knew Rees and Fillery — would later be gaoled for corruption.

Hanrahan’s report of the robbery noted: 

“To attack somebody outside his house and get £18,000 … you would have to be the luckiest mugger in the world.” 

DUNCAN HANRAHAN THE DETECTIVE who investigated the mugging reported by Rees. He was later gaoled for corruption. Photo: PA

LUCKY MUGGER
THE DETECTIVE who investigated the robbery said the criminal responsible was the “luckiest mugger in the world”. Duncan Hanrahan was later gaoled on corruption charges unrelated to Rees or Fillery.
Photo: PA

But police inquiries were superficial and the investigation went nowhere. 

No-one was ever charged for the alleged robbery.

Belmont Car Auctions didn’t believe Jonathan Rees’ story — and started legal proceedings to recover its money.

Morgan was furious.

He felt Rees should pay the money rather than Southern Investigations.

The night before the murder, Morgan, Rees and Fillery met at the Golden Lion to discuss the issue.

Off-duty police officers later joined them for a drink.

The next night, after meeting former lover and estate agent Margaret Harrison, Daniel again met Rees at the Golden Lion.

Rees, who had parked in front of the pub, left first.

When Daniel left, he was murdered.

♦♦♦

TWO DAYS after the murder Alastair Morgan went to Catford Police Station.

He wanted to tell them he was convinced the events surrounding the Belmont Car Auction affair were the key to solving the case.

The detective he talked to was detective sergeant Sid Fillery.

Alastair Morgan had no idea that the police officer was a close friend of Rees.

“I remember explaining to him that I thought Daniel may have found out something about that robbery and had been murdered as a result of that.”

GOLDEN LION THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. The night before the murder, Daniel Morgan had met with Rees and Fillery.  Photo: PA

GOLDEN LION
THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. The night before the murder, Daniel Morgan had met with Rees and Fillery.
Photo: PA

“And he said to me — what robbery was that then?”

Fillery has always denied this conversation ever took place.

In fact, Fillery was the first person to interview Jonathan Rees — he also asked Rees to identify the dead man.

Fillery did not tell his superiors that he not only knew about the Belmont Car Auction affair but that he and other officers had been moonlighting for Southern Investigations.

Fillery also visited the offices of Southern Investigations as part of his inquiries.

Later, it became clear that several files, including the one on Belmont Car Auctions, were missing.

Fillery was on the investigation for four days.

The man leading the inquiry, detective superintendent Douglas Campbell, was furious when he discovered Fillery’s connection with Rees.

He arrested Fillery and police constables Peter Foley and Alan Purvis who he believed had also moonlighted on the Belmont Car Auctions security operation.

He also arrested Jonathan Rees and the Vian brothers.

All were later released without charge.

The Metropolitan Police later paid compensation to PCs Foley and Purvis for wrongful arrest.

By the time the inquest took place a year later, Sid Fillery had retired on medical grounds.

He quietly stepped into Daniel Morgan’s shoes as Jonathan Rees’ new partner …

♦♦♦

THE INQUEST was to be one of the most explosive in British history. 

Kevin Lennon, the book-keeper for Southern Investigations, gave sensational evidence.

He said Jonathan Rees told him he wanted Daniel Morgan dead.

KEVIN LENNON THE BOOK-KEEPER at Southern Investigations testified that Jonathan Rees made it clear he wanted Daniel Morgan dead. Photo: ITV

KEVIN LENNON
THE BOOK-KEEPER at Southern Investigations testified at the inquest that Jonathan Rees made it clear he wanted Daniel Morgan dead. A Mail on Sunday article in August 2014 claimed that Lennon later told Rees he’d been pressurised by police — he’d been charged with fraud. However, when ITV Wales talked to Lennon in 2004, he was sticking to his original story … 
Photo: ITV

Lennon told the coroner that Rees “asked me to find someone to kill Morgan.” 

“He asked me this on at least two occasions.” 

“He was of the impression that I knew people who could or would be willing to kill Morgan.”

“On each occasion I attempted to dissuade Rees from considering such a course of action.”

“He was adamant that he wanted Morgan killed.”

In a later conversation at the Victory pub in Thornton Heath he alleged Jonathan Rees told him he’d solved the problem.

“He said words to the effect, ‘Forget about arranging his death, I’ve got it fixed … ‘.”

“He explained that police officers who were friends of his based at Catford were capable and willing to organise it.”

He also said Rees later told him, again in the Victory pub, he had a new partner in mind once Morgan was dead:

Sid Fillery.

“ … Fillery was to take Morgan’s place after his death.”

“He was to get an ill-health pension or medical discharge.”

“He and Fillery were, according to Rees, very close and that nothing would be better to Rees than for Fillery to join in the company.”

It was Lennon who first revealed the fact that Fillery was now working with Rees.

Lennon said that Rees had discussed the murder with his wife Sharon Rees — the sister of the Vian brothers.

She sent the coroner a note to say she wasn’t mentally fit to give evidence. 

The next day she was photographed out shopping by the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

THE MAN in charge of the murder investigation also gave evidence.

Detective superintendent Douglas Campbell accepted Fillery’s actions in the days after the murder had seriously undermined the inquiry.

He also told the inquest that Daniel had been talking about blowing the whistle on police corruption in south London.

Campbell added:

“I could find no evidence at all.”

“It was a suggestion that he had a story to sell to a newspaper.”

“I spoke to the other persons concerned.” 

“I even went to the newspaper but if I told you what he was offered you would see it was quite ludicrous.” 

“He was alleged to have been offered £250,000 per story.”

Campbell didn’t reveal the name of the newspaper that Morgan went to. 

Now retired, he’s always declined to be interviewed about the murder investigation.

In fact, the evidence now points to the fact that Daniel Morgan may have approached several papers.

A former private eye who knew the murdered man says he told him he was going to see a reporter on the News of the World.

That reporter was Alex Marunchak and that the story was about police corruption. 

The figure discussed was £40,000 — an enormous sum of money in those days.

ALEX MARANCHAK A KEY editorial figure on the News of the World, the Ukrainian-born crime reporter had strong links with the Met. At the time of the inquest he was also working as a part-time translator for Scotland Yard.  Photo: BBC

ALEX MARUNCHAK
A KEY editorial figure on the News of the World, the Ukrainian-born crime reporter had strong links with the Met. At the time of the inquest he was also working as a part-time translator for Scotland Yard.
Photo: BBC

Marunchak insists he never met the murdered man.

The inquest also heard from Margaret Harrison –  the woman Daniel Morgan met the night of the murder.

She had received more than 60 phone calls from Jonathan Rees in the months leading up to the killing. 

She denied she was having an affair with Rees at the time Daniel Morgan was killed.

Later she and Rees shared a house in south London.

They are still together, co-owners of a property in Weybridge, Surrey.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Alastair Morgan and his family were stunned when the police took no action after the inquest.

They began a long campaign to bring Daniel’s murderers to book.

It’s a campaign that was to drag the Murdoch-owned News of the World into the mystery… 

♦♦♦

NOTES
1
There have been recent developments in this affair — see
http://wp.me/P3kXx7-8K for more details.
2
This article is part of a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011.
Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments. 
Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said:
“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”
“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or other.” 
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
3
This article draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as by other journalists, especially Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC journalist Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers.  It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s The Untouchables. Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack, Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch
4
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales. 

 ♦♦♦
Published: 27 January 2015
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

COMING UP
THE NO 1 Corrupt Detective Agency continues with Rogue Journalists and Bent Coppers. Southern Investigations became the heart of a web of illegal news-gathering with Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World one of its most valuable clients. 

♦♦♦

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NUMBER 10 SILENT ON “FAKE SHEIK” INTERVENTION

December 22, 2014
SERIAL PART 5
 THE GOVERNMENT has declined to answer questions about a legal bid to stop the BBC Panorama exposé of Sun reporter Mazher Mahmood.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright tried to persuade the Corporation not to broadcast the investigation.

Wright is a political appointee and attends Cabinet.

No. 10 said it didn’t “comment on legal advice provided by law officers.” 

The BBC ignored the pressure and transmitted the “Fake Sheik: Exposed” programme on November 12.

Another public body, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is refusing to answer an allegation that it gave out false information about the case.

Sources claim CPS officials said at the end of October that a charging decision on Mahmood was due within two weeks.

Today, two months later, no decision has been announced … 

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police have been treating Mahmood himself with kid gloves. 

Press Gang has learnt detectives from Operation Silverhawk — the investigation into Mahmood’s false testimony in the Tulisa Contostavlos trial last July — decided not to arrest him.

Instead, officers arranged an appointment with him and his lawyer.

He was interviewed under caution. 

No warrant was sought to search his home in West London.

Mahmood’s “kid glove” treatment is in stark contrast to the “iron fist” used for Contostavlos.

She was arrested just two days after he published an article accusing her of conspiracy to supply drugs.

Her arrest — based solely on Mahmood’s evidence — took place by appointment at a police station.

Police also obtained a warrant and searched her home.

♦♦♦

THE FULL story behind the twice-delayed Panorama programme “Fake Sheik: Exposed” has not been told. 

By the time the piece was finally shown, on Wednesday, November 12, the BBC had beaten off a determined bid to have it stopped or at least watered down.

MAZHER MAHMOOD Lawyers acting for the "fake sheik" tried to persuade the court not to allow the BBC to show this recent picture of Mahmood. The judge rejected the argument that it would put him and his family at risk of potential violence from victims he'd exposed in the past. In fact, no-one bent on harming Mahmood would have any difficulty tracking him down — it took Press Gang fifteen minutes to do so. He and his wife Sadaf own two flats in a 1930s mansion block in the Kensington area of London: he lives in one while she occupies the other along with their young son. Photo: BBC

MAZHER MAHMOOD
LAWYERS ACTING for the “fake sheik” tried to persuade the court to ban the BBC from showing this recent picture of Mahmood. The judge rejected the argument that it would put him and his family at risk of potential violence from victims he’d exposed in the past. In fact, anyone seriously bent on harming Mahmood would have little difficulty tracking him down — it took Press Gang fifteen minutes to do so. He and his wife Sadaf own two flats in a 1930s mansion block in the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea: he lives in one while she occupies the other with their young son.
Photo: BBC

The campaign started on October 31, Halloween.

The BBC had just written to Mahmood telling him the thrust of the Panorama investigation and inviting him to respond.

Lawyers from Kingsley Napley, acting for Mahmood, quickly swung into action.

Their strategy was to attack on the programme on several fronts.

The first was an approach to the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, a barrister and Tory MP who attends Cabinet.

Their argument was that because Mahmood was under investigation and might be charged the programme not in the public interest. 

That approach led to the Attorney General writing to the BBC warning that the programme: 

“may have the potential to prejudice any trial, should Mr Mahmood be charged.”

In a later email Wright added:

” … IF the Contempt of Court Act does come into play — by Mr Mahmood being arrested or charged — the position would be different.”

JEREMY WRIGHT QC, MP THE COALITION'S senior law official tried to per Photo: Attorney General's Office

JEREMY WRIGHT QC, MP
THE COALITION’S senior law official tried to persuade Panorama not to show the exposé of the “fake sheilk”. Last week his press office denied that Wright had discussed the issue with David Cameron: “He did not consult the Prime Minister.” 
Photo: Attorney General’s Office

Some observers believe this was a coded reference to signals coming from another government department — the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

At the end of October CPS officials were informally telling journalists a decision on whether or not to charge Mahmood was likely to be made within a couple of weeks.

This was obviously untrue — today, nearly two months later, Operation Silverhawk is still active and no charges have been brought.

The CPS press office would not answer questions:

“we are a very small team, and have simply not had the time to deal with your query properly yet“.

Some BBC staff felt the combination of the false CPS briefing and the warnings from the Attorney General were part of a concerted attempt by pro-Murdoch forces to “spook” Director General Tony Hall and chairwoman Rona Fairchild into axing the programme.

Last week the Attorney General’s office told Press Gang:

“In matters of contempt, the Attorney General acts in his role as guardian of the public interest, independent of government.”

“He did not consult the Prime Minister.”

A spokeswoman for No. 10 told us:

“We don’t comment on legal advice provided by law officers.”

♦♦♦

WHILE THE government’s legal wing was trying to prevent the programme altogether, Mahmood’s lawyers were in court trying to water it down.

They applied for an injunction preventing the BBC from showing up-to-date footage of the “fake sheik”.

The hearing, before Sir David Eady, took place at an all-day session at the Royal Courts of Justice on Halloween, October 31.

Mahmood was represented by a barrister instructed by Kingsley Napley.

Press Gang asked News UK if it was paying Mahmood’s legal bills.

The company didn’t answer the question. 

SILVERHAWK CONTINUES LAST WEEK the Met told Press Gang that a file on the Mahmood case has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file presents the evidence against Mahmood and asks  advice about whether the reporter can be charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in the Tulisa Contostavlos case.  Photo: Rebecca Television

SILVERHAWK CONTINUES …
LAST WEEK the Met told Press Gang that a file on the Mahmood case has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file presents the evidence against Mahmood and asks advice about whether the reporter can be charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The Met also confirmed that the investigation is on-going …
Photo: Rebecca Television

In court, Mahmood’s team argued the programme should not show new images of him because he and his family would be at risk.

During the presentation, they revealed that police had interviewed Mahmood and pointed out that the programme might prejudice any trial.

They also claimed Panorama’s investigation was flawed because it relied on the testimony of former members of Mahmood’s “sting gang” who were motivated by revenge.

The injunction was not granted.

But Mahmood’s team were given leave to appeal and the hearing was listed for Monday, November 3.

That was the day the programme was scheduled to go out.

The BBC decided to postpone it.

On Monday, November 3 the appeal was refused.

The postponed programme was then re-scheduled for the following Monday, November 10.

But hours before this transmission lawyers acting for Mahmood submitted a tape which, they claimed, undermined the credibility of one of Panorama’s key witnesses.

The BBC decided to hold back the programme to assess the new material.

By Wednesday, November 12 they’d done so — and decided the programme would go ahead.

Normally, it would have gone out in the next available Panorama slot — Monday, November 17.

Now, however the Corporation faced a dilemma.

If the Crown Prosecution Service rumours were correct — and a decision on charging Mahmood was imminent — then he might be charged before the Monday.

A decision was taken to amend that day’s schedules.

The programme finally aired at 7.30 that night, November 12.

There were two reasons why the BBC was determined to show the Panorama investigation into Mahmood.

The first was that it was determined to demonstrate  its investigative credibility.

RUPERT MURDOCH WHY DOES one of the world's most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness box?     Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
WHY DOES one of the world’s most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness-box?
Photo: PA

This had been damaged by the Newsnight child abuse scandals.

The Corporation was severely criticised for censoring a Newsnight item in 2011 alleging that Jimmy Savile was a child abuser.

Newsnight then falsely accused Lord McAlpine of child abuse in November 2012.

The second was that the Corporation’s new Director of News & Current Affairs, James Harding, is a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper.

Harding had endured a fractious relationship with the tycoon in his last few years as editor and was determined to demonstrate his independence.

♦♦♦

THE ROLE of the Metropolitan Police has raised questions about its impartiality. 

Critics say the force has bent over backwards to try to shield the “fake sheik”.

The decision by Operation Silverhawk not to arrest him is a key criticism.

Another is the length of time it’s taken detectives to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on charging.

The case against Mahmood is a relatively simple affair.

There is no denying Mahmood lied when he gave evidence at the trial.

The only issues are:

— did the lie amount to perjury ?

— and was it designed to pervert the course of justice?

Normally, a police investigation would have been completed within a matter of weeks.

The second charge against the Met is that it has decided not to widen the investigation to other cases where Mahmood was the principal witness.

As early as November 2012 — long before the Tulisa Contostavlos case — Press Gang asked the Met to investigate Mahmood for “serial perjury”.

In a letter to then Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, we pointed out that Mahmood had lied under oath at the Leveson Inquiry about the number of criminal convictions he had to his name.

He claimed more than 250 — our investigation found only 70.

Our investigation prompted lawyers acting for Rupert Murdoch to carry out their own investigation.

Their report — which has never been released — found just 94.

The Press Gang letter to Akers pointed out that, in the course of our investigation, we found indications that Mahmood might also have lied on oath about his convictions in some of the criminal cases he gave evidence in.

The letter detailed one case — the gaoling of the TV actor John Alford for nine months in 1999 after a Mahmood sting.

That sting was remarkably similar to the operation mounted against Tulisa Contostavlos. 

At Alford’s unsuccessful appeal, the court noted Mahmood’s claim that he had 89 successful criminal prosecutions to his name.

That statement — which added credibility to Mahmood’s evidence — cannot be true.

By 1999, our analysis of Mahmood’s convictions showed only 28. 

Our letter asked the Met “to examine Mr Mahmood’s testimony in all the court cases he gave evidence in to see if he has potentially committed perjury …”  

JOHN ALFORD THE ACTOR'S acting carreer was destroyed after he was gaoled in 1999 for drugs offences following a "fake sheik" sting. Press Gang told the Met more than two years ago that there was evidence Mahmood also lied in this trial ... Photo: PA

JOHN ALFORD
THE ACTOR’S acting career was destroyed after he was gaoled in 1999 for drugs offences following a “fake sheik” sting. Press Gang told the Met more than two years ago that there was evidence Mahmood lied in Alford’s trial …
Photo: PA

The Met acknowledged the letter and promised a reply from a senior officer.

It never came.

Last week we raised this issue with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the police watchdog.

We asked them to explore the reasons behind the Met’s failure to answer the letter we sent to Sue Akers.

And we requested an examination of the failure to investigate the allegation of perjury in the Alford  case.

An IPCC spokesman said the complaint was being considered.

♦♦♦

ONE REASON why Rupert Murdoch’s News UK may have fought so hard to stop the Panorama programme is the fear of civil actions.

In the phone hacking scandal, much of the damage done to the News of the World came from revelations generated by individuals suing the newspaper.

There are signs that this is beginning to happen in the Mahmood scandal.

The CPS has now written to 25 of Mahmood’s victims warning them that they may have grounds to challenge their criminal convictions.

One of these is John Alford.

His solicitor Siobhain Egan has also been contacted by three other individuals with convictions as a result of Mahmood’s stings.

Another 18 people affected by Mahmood’s undercover operations have contacted the lawyer Mark Lewis.

Lewis played a key role in the civil litigation that helped unravel the industrial scale of phone-hacking at the Murdoch tabloids.

The Press Gang investigation into Mazher Mahmood continues … 

♦♦♦
Published: 22 December 2014
© Press Gang (part of Re
becca Television)
♦♦♦

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COMING UP IN THE NEW YEAR
“A PRETTY DESPICABLE MAN”
PART TWO: ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was editor. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

WITHERING HEIGHTS

November 22, 2014

Mahmood_head_with_words_04

THE PANORAMA exposé of Mazher Mahmood revealed the methods the “fake sheik” used at the News of the World and the Sun on Sunday.

But he also used the same unscrupulous tactics during his two spells on the Sunday Times.

Mahmood was a reporter in the 1980s and re-joined the paper for more than a year after the closure of the News of the World in 2011.

One man who knows about Mahmood’s troubled career is John Witherow, the current editor of The Times.

Witherow worked in the Sunday Times newsroom in the 1980s when many of Mahmood’s stories had to be corrected.

He was also there when Mahmood was fired in 1988 for tampering with computer records.

But after the death of the News of the World — by which time Witherow was Sunday Times editor — he still decided to take him on.

And, of course, Mahmood was soon up to his old tricks.

Press Gang investigates a sordid tale of journalistic prostitution.

♦♦♦ 

IN APRIL 2012 the Sunday Times carried a dramatic front page.

The headline — “100,000 women mutilated in UK”.

The paper claimed they’d been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Reporters Mazher Mahmood and Eleanor Mills, the paper’s associate editor, said they had caught a doctor and a dentist:

“offering to circumcise girls as young as 10 or help to arrange for the procedure to be carried out.”

Female circumcision is illegal in the UK.

The detailed story of the undercover operation was carried on an inside double page spread.

A woman journalist, posing as a woman who wanted her nieces circumcised, went to see Dr Ali Mao-Aweys.

Dr Mao-Aweys operated a private clinic in Birmingham.

The paper recorded him saying:

“I have a doctor that will do [it].”

“He is here in Birmingham.”

He gave the undercover reporter the name of Birmingham dentist Omar Addow.

The reporter went to see the dentist.

Initially, according to the report, Addow was wary but eventually agreed to perform the operation:

“I’ll do it for you.”

“Okay, I’ll do it for you.”

“I need to organise very well … nobody should know [anything about] it — between you, me and Allah only.”

Earlier he had said he was opposed:

“It’s not allowed in this country,” he said.

“It’s really dangerous — you, everybody go to jail.”

MAZHER MAHMOOD THE PICTURE Rupert Murdoch's News UK tried to stop Panorama  on 12.   Photo: BBC

MAZHER MAHMOOD
THE PICTURE the “fake sheik” tried to stop Panorama showing in its November 12 programme. Judge Sir David Eady threw out an application that showing recent images would endanger him and his family.
Photo: BBC

“Myself, Omar, personally I am against the ritual circumcision of the female …”

The paper reported that he relaxed when the reporter mentioned Dr Mao-Aweys’ referral.

The reporter and the dentist then went to his nearby flat “to discuss the matter privately” where he agreed to carry out a limited form of the procedure.

The Sunday Times passed the evidence to the police.

Two weeks later Mazher Mahmood reported that the two men had been arrested.

He quoted West Midlands Detective Inspector Caroline Marsh:

“I am grateful to the Sunday Times for the information provided and we are currently investigating what we regard as very serious allegations.”

On the face of it, a fine piece of investigative work on a subject of national importance.

But the story soon began to unravel …

♦♦♦

IT STARTED just a few months later, in September 2012, when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to bring charges.

There was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”

Harry Ireland, chief crown prosecutor for the West Midlands, was blunt:

“The main evidence in this case is from the undercover journalist or agent but she has consistently failed to sign her draft statement for the police despite being given every opportunity to do so over the past five months.”

He added:

“I also have concerns over discrepancies between her draft statement and the evidence from the covert recordings.”

“For example, at one stage, the covert recordings record the doctors refusing to help the woman with her request.”

“I am also troubled by the fact that the covert recordings disclose a time gap which is insufficiently accounted for when the undercover journalist or agent apparently went with one of the doctors from the surgery to his home.”

JOHN WITHEROW THE EDITOR of the Sunday Times didn't answer emails about Mazher mahmood until after Channel 4 News began to nvestigate ...  Photo: PA

JOHN MOORE WITHEROW
NOW EDITOR of The Times, Witherow has done nothing to bring Mazher Mahmood to book — even though he’s probably known that the “fake sheik” has been a rogue reporter for more than twenty years.
Photo: PA

“Unless there is a very compelling explanation for this, the covert evidence is very unlikely to be admissible in evidence.”

“That evidence has not been forthcoming.”

“A search of the suspects’ homes, computers and phones failed to provide any evidence that they were involved in any way in this illegal practice.”

“A financial investigation has also found no evidence of suspicious transactions which might then merit further investigation.”

Ireland did not explain why he described the woman as “journalist or agent” instead of just “journalist”.

Nor did he give any further details about the nature of the “time gap” which troubled him.

The Sunday Times told the Guardian:

“We stand by our investigation and contest the statement made by the CPS.”

There was no report of the CPS decision in the Sunday Times.

♦♦♦

A FULLER version of the events leading up to the story didn’t emerge until a General Dental Council disciplinary hearing against Omar Addow in August 2013.

Only the Independent carried a report of the proceedings.

It described what happened when the undercover reporter went to the dentist’s surgery:

“When the reporter’s stomach apparently started rumbling, Mr Addow carried out ‘percussion’ and examined her abdomen, the hearing was told.”

“This led to him checking her breasts for abnormalities and performing a vaginal ‘exploration’ before inviting her back to his flat, it is claimed.”

“The journalist recorded the visit to the flat on a hidden “handbag-cam”, for which Mr [Mazher] Mahmood … supplied the batteries.”

“Soon after arriving, the journalist — described on the film as being 33 and of Ghanaian origin — disappears into the bedroom with Dr Addow for over an hour, the hearing was told.”

The Independent then quotes Tom Kark, QC who represented the General Dental Council:

“When he leaves the bedroom, he appears to be wearing a sarong.”

GLASS HOUSES THE NEW skyscraper home of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper empire in London. All glass and light, it promises a new era in operness and transparency. But the company hasn't changed — and refuses to answer Press Gang questions  about Mazher Mahmood.  Photo: Rebecca Television

GLASS HOUSE
THE NEW skyscraper home of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper empire in London. All glass and light, it promises a new era in openness and transparency. But the company  refuses to answer Press Gang questions about Mazher Mahmood …
Photo: Rebecca Television

The newspaper reports Kark as adding:

“It appears he and the journalist have sexual intercourse.”

“We may form the view that the journalist had gone to extra lengths to get her story”.

Addow told police:

“We did sex.”

Before the pair went into the bedroom, the dentist had insisted he was opposed to FGM.

The Independent notes:

“It was only after they had disappeared into a room for an hour that the dentist was recorded on the handbag-cam saying:

” ‘I will do it for you. Between you, me and Allah only’.”

The Sunday Times told the Independent:

“The journalist in question was a freelance engaged in a legitimate undercover investigation into female genital mutilation which is a matter of public interest.”

“She denies having had sexual intercourse or any other sexually intimate contact with Mr Addow.”

The Sunday Times did not report these proceedings.

The General Dental Council later found Addow guilty of conducting an intimate examination of the woman and of offering to perform FGM.

He was struck off.

The Sunday Times reported the decision.

It also included the comment that Addow:

“… claimed he and the female journalist had had sex at his home.”

TULISA  THE SINGER'S case was the straw that broke the camel's back. After decades of tolerance from the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary, the judge in the case suddenly saw Mahmood in his true light ... Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS
THE SINGER’S case was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After decades of tolerance from the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary, the judge in the case suddenly saw Mahmood in his true colours … a perjuror.
Photo: PA

The report added:

“The journalist denies having sex with Addow.”

In May this year, the doctor who introduced Addow to the journalist was also struck off.  

The Sunday Times reported that Dr Ali Mao-Aweys had been removed from the General Medical Register by a fitness-to-practice panel.

The paper did not report the panel’s comment about some of the undercover journalist’s recordings:

“The panel noted there are long silences in the recordings which have not been explained by either party.”

“The panel has not been made aware of what occurred during these silences although it was concerned by their length.”

♦♦♦

PRESS GANG emailed Eleanor Mills, now Executive Editor of the Sunday Times.

Initially, she told us: 

“The CPS decided the evidence wasn’t robust enough to prosecute because of some problems with the tape.”

“I was very disappointed as I think it is ridiculous to have a law in the books under which there has never been a prosecution.”

This was before the damning General Dental Council hearing where the prosecuting QC Tom Kark said the journalist had sex with Addow.

We wrote again.

We asked her why the Crown Prosecution Service described the woman involved in the sting as a “journalist or agent”.

Was she a journalist or wasn’t she?

We also asked if she was a long-standing member of Mahmood’s team.

We then put the key question:

“The central allegation hovering throughout this story is that you and Mahmood either encouraged, permitted or tolerated a woman working for you to prostitute herself in order to persuade the dentist to offer to carry out FGM.”

“Before she went into the bedroom at his flat, he was insisting he was opposed to the practice and would not do it.”

“After an hour, she and the dentist reappeared — Mr Addow wearing only a sarong —  and he agreed to do it.”

Mills did not reply.

We asked her to forward our email to Mazher Mahmood.

He didn’t answer.

Eleanor Mills is president of the organisation Women in Journalism.

♦♦♦

WE ALSO sent a copy of the email to John Witherow.

He’s now editor of The Times.

He didn’t reply.

Witherow should have known that Mazher Mahmood was a rogue reporter.

He worked alongside him in the Sunday Times newsroom back in the late 1980s.

The two men even shared a by-line on a prophetic story in March 1986.

They revealed that a group of Libyan pilots training in Britain had offered to form suicide squads to attack US bases …

Witherow was working for the paper when Mahmood resigned in 1989 shortly before he was to be sacked.

But he would have known there were problems with some of Mahmood’s stories long before then.

In March 1986 Mahmood posed as an Arab and tried to buy £45,000 worth of falcons from Jemima Parry-Jones of the Gloucestershire Falconry Centre with a view to illegally exporting them.

RUPERT MURDOCH THE EX-AUSTRALIAN tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood and made sure he had a temporary berth on the Sunday Times.  Photo: PA  Hertfordshire.

RUPERT MURDOCH
THE AUSTRALIAN tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood and made sure he had a temporary berth on the Sunday Times after the closure of the News of the World.
Photo: PA 

In the article, Mahmood said that, before the deal went ahead:

“Parry Jones changed her mind and called in customs officers.”

In April the paper was forced to carry a letter from an indignant Parry-Jones.

She made it clear that she had told Mahmood that a licence was needed to take the birds out of the country — and offered to help obtain one.

“When it became apparent to me that the man posing as an Arab purchaser — your journalist — was seriously interested in purchasing birds which he might export illegally, I notified the Department of the Environment, Wildlife Division, and made arrangements for the Customs and Excise to be present at the second meeting to apprehend the man.”

“The suggestion that I only called in the authorities because I was aware that the man was a Sunday Times reporter is untrue.”

“It was only when the man made a second appointment that I had worthwhile information to give to the authorities.”

In 1988 the paper had to issue corrections to other stories Mahmood had written.

One concerned an article about a Birmingham travel agent accused of money-laundering — the photograph illustrating the piece was of an entirely innocent man.

In another article Mahmood claimed that Pakistan wanted Britain to return former brigadier Usman Khalid because he was suspected of involvement in the 1985 air crash that killed the country’s President, General Zia.

The correction made it clear Pakistan had asked for no such thing — and the paper accepted Usman Khalid’s assurance that he was not involved in the crash.

The most serious correction followed a story alleging that the head of a fee-paying school near Shrewsbury was cruel to pupils.

The piece said police were investigating and quoted teachers and pupils who supported the allegations against Edward Pease-Watkin of Packwood Haugh School.

The piece provoked a storm of protest — and generated a significant correction the following Sunday.

The chairman of the governors said the piece “outraged governors, parents and ex-parents, staff, pupils and ex-pupils, the school doctor and the vicar”.

He said the police investigation was complete — and had found no evidence to support the allegations which had been made by a sacked teacher.

He added:

“The staff, at an informal gathering on May 8 [the day the article appeared] expressed unanimous support for the headmaster and school.”

A letter from one of the teachers quoted in the article insisted he talked to Mahmood “to discourage him from pursuing allegations which were malicious.”

Another letter, signed by 58 pupils said “your article was an injustice.”

“Mr Pease-Watkin has all that is good in a headmaster, providing strong leadership and fairness in academic activities, and is caring and courteous at all times.”

“He has a fantastic track record of achievement … and is a source of great inspiration to us all.”

We also wrote to John Witherow asking him to comment on these stories.

He didn’t reply …

♦♦♦

MAZHER MAHMOOD is not the first “rogue journalist” John Witherow employed during the eighteen years he spent editing the Sunday Times.

In July 2003 the respected investigative journalist David Connett was offered a senior post on the celebrated Insight team.

But not as a conventional member of staff with a contract.

Instead, he was to be a highly-paid freelance who would carry out the “dark arts” of news-gathering for the team.

As former Insight reporter Edin Hamzic recorded in an email:

” … it was better for the team to keep him off the books in case we got rumbled.”

He added that the arrangement meant “we could have a get-out clause in case we got caught.”

Connett was not listed on the paper’s internal phone directory and did not have a company email address.

The reporter said that Insight editor Dean Nelson, a Christian, had misgivings about using the “dark arts”:

“He didn’t want to get involved in all the black arts and deal in stolen property etc.”

Connett added:

PECKING ORDER  THE FLOOR plan at Murdoch's new British newspaper HQ shows which paper has the best view ... Photo: Rebecca Television

PECKING ORDER
THE FLOOR plan at Murdoch’s new British newspaper HQ shows which paper has the best view … the Sun is top of the pile.
Photo: Rebecca Television

“The downside of this arrangement was that if anything ever went wrong the brown smelly stuff would arrive in my lap.”

The arrangement lasted until July 2005 when editor John Witherow decided to axe the Insight department as a separate department.

When the paper treated Connett as a freelance with few employment rights, he went to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.

In April 2006, the tribunal ruled that Connett was more than just a casual employee — and the Sunday Times agreed to pay him £30,000.

Even though all of this material was on the public record — and most of it was also included in Nick Davies’ 2008 book Flat Earth News — none of it was explored by the Leveson Inquiry …

No details have ever been provided either by Connett or the Sunday Times as to exactly what “dark arts” he used — or if any of them were illegal.

Neither Connett or Nelson were asked to give evidence before Lord Leveson.

Nor, as far as Press Gang can tell, has any reporter on the Sunday Times ever been questioned by the various police investigations into illegal news-gathering …

♦♦♦

BY THE time Panorama broadcast it’s twice-delayed programme on Mazher Mahmood, John Witherow had achieved his ambition.

He was editor of The Times, rewarded by Rupert Murdoch for decades of loyal service.

And he’s still at it.

The Times was silent during the dramatic run-up to the programme when lawyers acting for Mahmood failed to secure an injunction preventing recent images of the “Fake Sheik” being shown.

It was silent when the Attorney General asked the BBC to delay the programme because Mahmood might face charges of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. 

Nor did the paper — which regards itself as the UK’s paper of record — carry a full report on the programme itself.

POLICE CHIEF  MET COMMISSIONER Bernard Hogan-Howe force has had more than three months to arrest Mazher Mahmood on suspicion  of committing perjury ...  Photo: PA Commissioner,  after The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina Higgins arrive at London Heathrow Airport.  During the visit they will stay at Windsor Castle.

POLICE CHIEF
MET COMMISSIONER Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. More than three months after a judge accused Mazher Mahmood of lying in the Tulisa Contostavlos cocaine case, the Met has still to arrest the reporter on suspicion of committing perjury. Compare that to the 12 days it took West Midlands police to arrest the two medics in the FGM case after Mahmood presented them with his dodgy evidence…  The Met also ignored a letter from Press Gang in 2012 asking for Mahmood to be investigated for perjury in other criminal cases.
Photo: PA 

Instead it buried two sentences in another story about BBC proposals to hive Panorama off to the independent sector.

Those two sentences read in full:

“In a Panorama episode last night, postponed from Monday, Steve Grayson, a former associate of Mazher Mahmood, an investigative reporter known as the “Fake Sheikh” [sic — Mahmood always called himself the “Fake Sheik”], alleged that some of Mr Mahmood’s stories were obtained by entrapment.”

“Mr Mahmood, who has worked for the News of the World, The Sun and The Sunday Times, has denied acting improperly and described allegations in the programme as ‘unsustainable and wrong’.”

♦♦♦

LAST NIGHT Press Gang finally clarified the exact nature of the police investigation into Mazher Mahmood.

In a statement the Met told us its inquiry into Mahmood — known as Operation Silverhawk — was concerned only with the Tulisa Contostavlos trial.

The investigation, by the Special Enquiry Team of the Specialist Crime and Operations division, is not looking at any other cases:

” … at this stage the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has not been asked to investigate any further matters.”

Asked if Mahmood had been questioned, the spokesperson added:

“We do not discuss the identity of people interviewed under caution.”

Yesterday the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that three planned criminal trials with Mahmood as a key witness had been abandoned.

The CPS also identified a further historical 25 cases where criminal convictions secured as a result of evidence provided by Mahmood were open to challenge.

However, the Met statement makes it clear that Mahmood’s role is not being investigated in any of these cases.

In November 2012 we wrote to the Met to ask them to investigate our allegation of serial perjury by Mahmood in many of the criminal cases he gave evidence in.

The Met acknowledged the letter but never responded.

The Press Gang investigation into Mazher Mahmood continues …

♦♦♦
Published: 22 November 2014
© Press Gang

♦♦♦

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COMING UP
“A PRETTY DESPICABLE MAN”
PART TWO: ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was editor. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

LYING TO LEVESON

November 10, 2014

LYING TO LEVESON

THE LEVESON Inquiry refused to hear serious allegations against Mazher Mahmood.

The claims were made in a Press Gang statement which presented evidence 

 — that Mahmood committed perjury in some of the criminal cases he generated.

—  lied about his connections to a notorious firm of private detectives

— employed a convicted criminal as a key member of his team.

The Leveson Inquiry wouldn’t accept the evidence because there wasn’t time to consider it properly.

Even so, the Inquiry was a bruising experience for Mahmood.

Decades of telling lies suddenly caught up with “Fake Sheik”.

When he told Leveson he left the Sunday Times in 1988 because of a “disagreement”, it wasn’t true.

He was about to be sacked.

And when he claimed his News of the World articles had secured 253 convictions, he was exposed again.

A Press Gang investigation forced him to concede lawyers could only find 94.

But it could have been much, much worse …

♦♦♦

AFTER THE closure of the News of the World in July 2011, Mazher Mahmood enjoyed the protection and patronage of Rupert Murdoch.

While hundreds of people lost their jobs, Mahmood was kept on the payroll.

He was destined to join the planned Sun on Sunday.

But when Murdoch decided to delay the launch until the hacking scandal cooled down, Mahmood was assigned to the Sunday Times.

The paper’s editor was John Witherow.

This meant that the “Fake Sheik” was a Sunday Times reporter when he gave evidence to Leveson in December 2011.

When the Press Gang investigation concluded that Mahmood had lied about the number of convictions he’d secured at the News of the World, we wrote to John Witherow.

Initially, he didn’t answer.

It wasn’t until after Channel 4 News took an interest in the story that Witherow finally replied:

WITHEROW

JOHN WITHEROW
THE EDITOR of the Sunday Times on his way to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in January 2012. He was happy to answer questions at the Inquiry but reluctant to discuss Press Gang allegations about Mazher Mahmood. Today, he’s editor of The Times.
Photo: PA

“We are indeed doing a thorough investigation into the number that Mazher supplied,” he told us.

“I will examine the results and decide what to do when I know the outcome.”

Channel 4 News didn’t pursue the story and Witherow never came back to us.

However, by that time Press Gang had submitted a statement to Leveson about Mahmood’s fake convictions.

The Inquiry asked Mahmood to respond.

His employers commissioned the law-firm Linklaters to carry out an independent investigation. 

Their report has never been made public.

Instead, Mahmood was allowed to summarise it in a further statement to the Inquiry.

He said Linklaters “verified” only 94 of the 253 people he claimed had been convicted.

He then came up with three reasons to explain the discrepancy.

First, he claimed that he was counting the number of offences rather individual defendants.

Second, he included “over 140” illegal immigrants in the total who he claimed were deported.

But Linklaters wouldn’t accept these as criminal convictions.

“I apologise for my error in including these individuals …” Mahmood told the Inquiry.

Third, he included 13 people disciplined by their professional body.

“Again, I understand from Linklaters that such actions do not amount to prosecutions or convictions and so I apologise to the Inquiry …”

He insisted, though, that:

“I am personally confident that my work as a journalist has led to substantially more convictions than the 94 individuals …”

Press Gang submitted a second statement pointing out that the News of the World always talked of Mahmood’s score in terms of individuals.

SIR JOHN STEVENS THE FAKE SHEIK enjoyed exceptionally good relations with Scotland Yard. In 2003 he and then News of the World editor Andy Coulson were invited to the Commissioner's offices at New Photo: PA OF the Metropolitan Police invited Mazher Mahmood and Andy Coulson to his office in Scotland Yard following the CPS decision to abandon charges in the Beckham kidnap affair Photo: PA

SIR JOHN STEVENS
 METROPOLITAN POLICE Commissioner from 2000 to 2005, Sir John Stevens— now Lord Stevens — was on good terms with the “Fake Sheik”. In his 2008 autobiography, Mahmood tells the story of how he and then News of the World editor Andy Coulson were invited to have drinks with Stevens at New Scotland Yard in 2003. It was shortly after the Crown Prosecution Service decision to abandon charges in the Beckham kidnap affair because one of Mahmood’s informants was considered an unreliable witness …
Photo: PA

For example, in March 1996, the paper reported that the conviction of a solicitor

“brings the total number of victims successfully prosecuted after being exposed by Mazher to a staggering EIGHTY in four years.”

This part of our statement was accepted — and can be found in the evidence section of the official record of the Leveson Inquiry.

(See the Notes for details.)

But Press Gang also submitted new, equally damaging allegations.

It was this new material which the Inquiry declined to accept.

One of its legal team told us the material:

“is not amenable to written evidence: it relates to matters which the Inquiry is not taking detailed evidence … and/or cannot now be fairly examined at this stage in the Inquiry’s proceedings.” 

♦♦♦

THE NEW material suggested Mahmood’s lie to Leveson wasn’t an isolated incident.

There were other occasions where it was also possible he’d lied in the witness-box.

Press Gang cited the case of the actor John Alford, a star of the TV series London’s Burning.

He was gaoled for nine months in 1999 after supplying cocaine to Mahmood during a “sting” operation.

At his appeal, the judgment noted that Mahmood:

“described himself … as an investigative reporter with 89 successful criminal prosecutions to his name.”

That figure could not possibly be true.

By that time, our assessment was just 28.

Mahmood had been inflating the figure to increase his credibility as a witness and strengthen the prosecution case.

In September 2012 Press Gang wrote to John Witherow.

We asked him to arrange for Linklaters to:

“carry out a survey of Mazher Mahmood’s witness statements in the many criminal cases where he has given evidence” because of concerns “that he may have committed perjury …”

Witherow did not reply.

The rest, of course, is history.

When the Sun on Sunday was launched in February 2012, Mahmood was its star reporter.

In July 2014 he was caught red-handed lying to the judge in the Tulisa Contostavlos trial.

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS THE SINGER"S trial collapsed in July after the judge found that mazher Mahmood had lied under oath.  Photo: PA                                                              THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box ...    Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS
THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mahmood was caught lying in the witness-box …
Photo: PA

(See The Sting in the Singer’s Tale for the full story.)

News UK  — owners of the Sunday Times and the Sun on Sunday — announced a full investigation into the allegation that Mahmood had committed perjury.

This was nearly two years after we warned them Mahmood was potentially a serial perjuror … 

♦♦♦

BUT ALLEGATIONS of serial perjury weren’t the only revelation in the Press Gang statement. 

We also returned to the question of Mahmood’s bodyguard “Jaws”.

“Jaws” is Mahmood’s second cousin Mahmood Quereshi who, until a serious accident in 2006, acted as his bodyguard.

He gets the nickname from his diamond-studded gold teeth.

In the first Press Gang statement, we pointed out that one of the villains in a Mahmood exposé in 1996 bore a remarkable similarity to “Jaws”.

In his response, Mahmood admits the villain is, indeed, his second cousin.

He says Quereshi was the source of the story — Mahmod exaggerated his role in the gang in order to protect him …

By the time of the second Press Gang statement we also pointed out there was a possibility that “Jaws” was, in fact, an active criminal during the period he was employed by Mahmood.

"JAWS" Mahmmod Quereshi — known as Jaws for his diamond-studded gold teeth — is a key figure in the Mazher Mahmood story. A former criminal, he became a minder and a fixer for Mazher Mahmood.

“JAWS”
MAHMOOD QUERESHI  — known as “Jaws” — is a key figure in the Mazher Mahmood story. A criminal, he became a minder and a fixer for Mazher Mahmood. 

In 2005, during a libel action against the News of the World, lawyer David Price produced a list of convictions against Quereshi dating from a theft case at Bradford Crown Court to a case in Leeds in 1999.

In other words, when “Jaws” was acting as the source of one of Mahmood’s stories in 1996, his criminal career was still in progress.

Another of Mahmood’s paid informants, Florim Gashi, claims Quereshi had “been in prison a number of times … “

He also acted as an informant in many of Mahmood’s stories, including the alleged plot to kidnap Victoria Beckham.

♦♦♦

THERE WAS one final piece of information Leveson was not prepared to consider.

This involved Mahmood’s links with a firm of private detectives called Southern Investigations.

One of the partners was a former Metropolitan Police detective sergeant, Sid Fillery.

Fillery had retired and joined Southern Investigations, taking the place of Daniel Morgan, a private detective brutally murdered in 1987.

The other partner was Jonathan Rees, who was arrested several times on suspicion of being involved in the murder.

He was never convicted.

SID FILLERY A FORMER detective sergeant in south London, Fillery became one of the partners in Southern Investigations. In 2003 he was convicted of making indcent images of children. Photo: PA

SID FILLERY
A FORMER detective sergeant in south London, Fillery became one of the partners in Southern Investigations. In 2003 he was convicted of making indecent images of children.
Photo: PA

However, Rees was gaoled for 7 years in 2000 after he was caught planning a conspiracy with corrupt police detectives to plant drugs on an innocent woman to prove she was an unfit mother.

Fillery was convicted in 2003 of making fifteen indecent images of children.

His computer included photographs of two naked boys engaged in oral sex and another showing the anal penetration of a young girl.

Southern Investigations acted as brokers between corrupt police officers who wanted to sell sensitive information to newspapers, including the News of the World.

In his evidence to Leveson, Mahmood doesn’t name the firm but it appears to be Southern Investigations.

He told the Inquiry:

” … I stopped working with them at the end of 1992 or early 1993 …”

However, in our statement we told the Leveson Inquiry we had seen documents seized during anti-corruption inquiries which suggested this also wasn’t true.

These documents revealed that in 1999 Rees and Fillery carried out “confidential inquiries” into “illegal immigration” after receiving a “request” from “Maz Mahmood”.

The invoice for this work, submitted in July 1999, was for £1,488.72 — one of the largest the firm raised in that year.

Again, we told the Inquiry we had written to Sunday Times editor John Witherow and asked him to investigate.

He never replied.

For this article, we once again contacted Witherow — now editor of The Times.

He didn’t respond.

We also asked Mahmood for a comment.

There was no reply.

♦♦♦

NOTES
1  The Press Gang statements to Leveson were originally submitted by editor Paddy French in the name of Rebecca Television. In October all national media-related material from this site was transferred to Press Gang. The first statement is here: the second here.
2  Mazher Mahmood made four statements to the Leveson Inquiry. Two are relevant to this article: the first which includes his claim to have secured 253 successful prosecutions and the fourth where he admits that the figure is false.
3  See also the other articles in this series: Fake Convictions and The Sting In The Singer’s Tale.

♦♦♦

GANGBUSTERS WANTED
THERE’S A need for a trustworthy website to investigate rogue journalism. Press Gang is that outlet — fearless and fair. Join us by becoming a gangbuster and help pay some of our expenses. Just hit the button …

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COMING UP
“A PRETTY DESPICABLE MAN”
PART TWO: ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was  editor. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

WHODUNNIT…?

October 27, 2014

PIERS_MORGAN_with_words_2d

THE POLITICAL editor of The Sun — Tom Newton Dunn — has a secret.

He’s been involved in illegal news-gathering.

Documents obtained by Press Gang implicate him in a “dirty tricks” campaign against a Tory politician.

But was it off his own bat — or did someone order him to do it?

At the time Newton Dunn was working for Piers Morgan at the Daily Mirror.

The new information comes from a Press Gang investigation of Piers Morgan — the largest ever undertaken.

The title is based on a comment made by Morgan himself — he once said you had to be a “fairly despicable” human being to edit the Mirror.

The politician targeted was Adrian Flook, Conservative MP for Taunton between 2001 and 2005.

He now works for the Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby.

Crosby is a political advisor to David Cameron.

Flook knew nothing about the operation until we contacted him.

TOM NEWTON DUNN THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Dunn was involved in the "dark arts" of illegal news-gathering when he worked for Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror between 1998 and 2003.  Photo: PA

TOM NEWTON DUNN
THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun was involved in the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering when he worked for the Daily Mirror between 1998 and 2003. This undermines Morgan’s insistence he knew nothing about phone hacking and other unlawful activities while he was editor.
Photo: PA

The former MP was a member of the Commons Culture Media & Sport select committee when it investigated press invasion of personal privacy in 2003.

Piers Morgan, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks all gave evidence.

 This was also the occasion when Rebekah Brooks made her famous admission that she had paid police for information.She didn’t realise she was confessing to a crime.

Piers Morgan called it “dropping the tabloid baton”. 

Was this an admission that Mirror reporters — like Newton Dunn — were willing to pay police for information?

And was he also referring to his payment of a large sum of money for a confidential police file concerning Princess Diana back in 1994?

At the time, he was editor of the News of the World …

♦♦♦

ONE DAY, early in 2001.

A private detective based in Hampshire receives a request from the Daily Mirror.

The paper is researching a Tory councillor in the London borough of Wandsworth called Adrian Flook.

Flook is also the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Taunton constituency.

The private eye is Steve Whittamore.

In the office of his home in New Milton, Whittamore reaches for a red notebook.

The “Red Book” is where he records work commissioned by the Daily Mirror and its sister papers The People and the Sunday Mirror.

Some of the paper’s requests are straightforward and legal — it wants to know who’s living at Flook’s London home and at his base in Taunton.

But Whittamore’s services also include a battery of unlawful activities.

These range from obtaining ex-directory numbers and detailed phone bills to “blagging” other personal information.

The most powerful are criminal record checks — known as CROs — made on the Police National Computer.

The Mirror wants to know if Flook has a criminal record.

ADRIAN FLOOK  THE TORY MP for Taunton, 2001-2005, did not know he'd been targeted by the Daily Mirror until Press Gang told him earlier this year.  Photo: PA

TARGET
ADRIAN FLOOK did not know the Daily Mirror ordered an illegal criminal record check on him until Press Gang told him earlier this year. Elected Tory MP for Taunton in 2001, he lost his seat in the 2005 General Election.  
Photo: PA

In the “Red Book” Whittamore notes the paper’s order for a “CRO” and logs Flook’s date of birth.

Only police — and a small number of other agencies — are allowed access to the Police National Computer (PNC).

Because it’s a criminal offence to search the PNC without proper authorisation, CROs are the most expensive weapons in Whittamore’s arsenal.

They cost £500 each.

Whittamore also notes the name of his contact at the paper.

It’s a young journalist called Tom Newton Dunn.

He’s been with the Daily Mirror since 1998.

The Daily Mirror never published an article about Adrian Flook.

“That’s because I don’t have a criminal record,” Flook says.

He adds:

“I suspect the whole thing was part of a local ‘dirty tricks’ campaign designed to de-rail my campaign in Taunton.”

In 2003 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raids Whittamore’s home as part of Operation Motorman.

When investigators discover Whittamore has also been paying police officers and civilians, they call in the Metropolitan Police.

The Met launches Operation Glade.

In 2005 Whittamore pleads guilty to breaching the Data Protection Act.

Two of his associates — a former police detective and a civilian employee — also plead guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

They’ve been making unauthorised searches of the Police National Computer.

All receive conditional discharges.

Flook is one of thousands of individuals whose names turn up in Whittamore’s files.

The vast majority are never informed by the Metropolitan Police or the Information Commissioner’s Office.

It will be thirteen years before Adrian Flook discovers he’s one of them …

♦♦♦

THE INVESTIGATION for this story began three years ago.

Earlier this year Channel 4 agreed to underwrite some of the research.

It later dropped the project.

In March we found an informant — codename “Trinity” — who provided information that the Mirror could have targeted Adrian Flook.

“Trinity” suggested Flook’s name might be found in Whittamore’s “Red Book”.

We spoke to the former MP.

He then wrote to the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if he featured in any of the records seized as part of Operation Motorman.

In May Information Commissioner Christopher Graham replied.

He enclosed a photocopy of an entry in Whittamore’s notebook which confirmed Flook had been a target.

SMOKING GUN THE ENTRY from private eye Steve Whittamore's notebook recording the operation against Adrian Flook. The first entry, following his normal practice, records the name of his contact jou, followed by the newspaper, in this case "D. M." — Daily Mirror. Then the target, Flook,

SMOKING GUN
THE EXTRACT from Steve Whittamore’s “Red Book” recording the operation against Adrian Flook. The first entry records the name of the journalist involved — “Tom Newton-Dunn”, followed by the newspaper, in this case “D. M.” = Daily Mirror. The “N” in the circle means the request is coming from news rather than features. No date is given but Press Gang believes it was in February 2001. Most of the searches ordered are legal — it’s only in the last line that the request becomes potentially criminal in nature. It states “CRO [short for Criminal Record Check] for above — D.O.B 9 / 7 / 63”. That date is Flook’s birthday.

The section concerning the CRO check has a wavy black line written through it. 

There are several possible explanations for this.

The Daily Mirror could have cancelled the request.

Or it could mean Whittamore passed the request to his contacts in the police — and drew the line to remind himself he’d done so.

Flook wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

He asked him to check if the Police National Computer check had actually taken place.

Hogan-Howe passed the matter to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

In May Flook met Detective Superintendent Clive Stevens from the DPS.

In June Stevens wrote to say:

“It cannot be confirmed whether any checks, lawful or otherwise, were ever carried on your details.”  

(In a later letter he added:

“I have made enquiries … with the Police National Computer Policy and Performance Unit and I regret to inform you that this information is not available for checks carried out in 2001.”)

Stevens also addressed the question of why Flook was never informed he’d been a target of Steve Whittamore and the Daily Mirror

“The workbooks seized from Stephen Whittamore contained several thousand entries,” he explained.

“It would not have been practicable to trace and contact all the people that appeared in these workbooks.”

“It seems that as you had not been specifically identified as a victim within the Operation Glade inquiry … you were not informed by any of the investigating agencies involved … your name had appeared as a person of interest to Stephen Whittamore.”

“I hope that you can appreciate that whilst this is regrettable, it is understandable and reasonable given the scale of the task at hand.”

Adrian Flook cannot understand why he was never contacted.

By the time Operation Glade began in March 2003  he was no ordinary citizen.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD WHEN ADRIAN FLOOK  met a senior Metropilitan Police detective, much of the meeting was spent talking about the journalist who'd told the former MP he'd been a target of the Daily Mirror. As Det Supt Stevens later put it:  "I would be grateful for any information you could share about the journalist in question so I can reassure myself that information about this investigation has not been obtained or disclosed in breach of any police regulations or by criminal act."  [I will contact Stevens to assure him that "Trinity" has not been paid for his assistance and that his not and never has been employed by the Met.]  Photo: Rebecca Television Stevens added:

HUNT THE MESSENGER
WHEN ADRIAN FLOOK met a senior Metropolitan Police detective in May, much of the meeting was spent talking about the journalist who’d told the former MP he’d been a target of the Daily Mirror. As Det Supt Clive Stevens later put it: “I would be grateful for any information you could share about the journalist in question so I can reassure myself that information about this investigation has not been obtained or disclosed in breach of any police regulations or by criminal act.” Press Gang Editor Paddy French emailed Stevens and assured him that our contact “Trinity” is not, and has never been, a Met police officer or a civilian employee. We also told him that he had given his information without payment of any kind.    Photo: Rebecca Television

He’d been elected to Parliament.

More than that, he was also a member of the Culture, Media & Sport select committee which held hearings into privacy and the press in 2003 a few days after Whittamore’s arrest.

And, to cap it all, one of those who appeared before him was Piers Morgan, editor of the very newspaper that had targeted him …  

 ♦♦♦

PIERS MORGAN was summoned to appear before the Culture, Media & Sport select committee in March 2003.

Also appearing on the same day were his friends Rebekah Brooks (then using her maiden name Wade) and Andy Coulson.

Brooks had been appointed Sun editor the previous January and Coulson had slipped into her role at the News of the World.

Even though they edited papers with a greater circulation, Piers Morgan was the senior member of the troika.

Morgan first met Coulson while he was running the celebrity column “Bizarre” for The Sun in the late 1980s.

When Morgan was appointed News of the World editor in 1994, Coulson took over “Bizarre”.

EDITORIAL BEDFELLOWS THREE EDITORS of the News of the World at a party in 2004 — Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade and current post-holder Andy Coulson. All were having affairs. During their phone hacking trial at the Old Baily, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson had been sleeping together since 1998. At the time she was married to Eastenders actor Ross Kemp and Coulson to the woman who is still his wife. Piers Morgan was also "having a few problems" in his marriage and would later divorce ...  Photo: Richard Young / REX

EDITORIAL BEDFELLOWS
THREE EDITORS of the News of the World at a party in 2004 — Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade and the then post-holder Andy Coulson. All were having affairs. During their phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson hadn’t just been putting their papers to bed — they’d been bedding each other since 1998. At the time she was married to EastEnders actor Ross Kemp and Coulson was also married. Piers Morgan was “having a few problems” in his marriage and would later divorce …
Photo: Richard Young / REX

Rebekah Brooks was a journalist on the News of the World when Morgan took over the paper in 1994.

He quickly gave her first promotion — to features editor. 

His endorsement meant she would have come to the attention of Rupert Murdoch himself.

♦♦♦

THREE DAYS before the Culture committee was due to meet, private eye Steve Whittamore was arrested.

A lucrative enterprise came to an abrupt halt — affecting the papers edited by Morgan, Brooks and Coulson.

Right up until his arrest on the Saturday morning, Whittamore had been working for all three.

By Monday morning at the latest, the Mirror news desk would have learnt one of their major sources of illegal material was out of business.

It would later emerge that the Information Commissioner’s Office analysis of Whittamore’s “Red Book” established that 47 Daily Mirror journalists had made requests from the private eye.

684 of these requests were unlawful.

One of the 47 journalists was Tom Newton Dunn.

According to our source “Trinity”, he was responsible for more than 50 requests.

GARY JONES ANOTHER MIRROR journalist whose name appears in the "Red Book" is Gary Jones, the current Daily Mirror executive editor. He will play a major part in later sections of the Press Gang investigation into Piers Morgan.

GARY JONES
CURRENT EXECUTIVE editor of the Daily Mirror, Gary Jones is another  journalist who appears in the “Red Book”.  His name is on more than 150 requests recorded by private eye Steve Whittamore. Jones was one of Piers Morgan’s key lieutenants in the paper’s “dark arts” operations — and plays a major part in later sections of A Pretty Despicable Man

These included obtaining ex-directory numbers — an offence under the Data Protection Act.

His name is also down on orders for tracing the owners of cars.

A more detailed analysis of the “Red Book”, carried out by ITV News in 2012, concluded that the number of illegal orders was actually 984.

It was big business.

ITV News estimated the Daily Mirror spent over £92,000 on Whittamore’s services over a period of several years.

The News of the World was another customer.

It already employed another private eye — Glenn Mulcaire, later gaoled in the phone-hacking scandal — on an exclusive contract worth £100,000 a year.

But the News of the World also used Whittamore from time to time.

His “Blue Book”— concerned with requests from the Sunday tabloid — listed 23 journalists who spent more than £23,000 on obtaining unlawful information.

One of those named was Rebekah Brooks.

For most of the years these requests were being made, Brooks was News of the World editor and Coulson her deputy.

Whittamore  — he would later liken himself to “Oliver” working for the Fleet Street “Fagin” — was also working for other papers.

They included the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, The Sun and even The Times.

The scale of Whittamore’s operations begs the question:

how could Morgan, Brooks and Coulson not have known about the private detective’s arrest as they made their way to the Palace of Westminster for the Culture committee hearing on Tuesday, March 11?

♦♦♦

PIERS MORGAN was the first of the tabloid trio to appear before the committee.

If he was aware a criminal provider of information to his paper had just been arrested, he didn’t show it.

He was confident, cocky and combative.

Morgan insisted press standards had improved:

“I have worked in Fleet Street for 15 years, I have never known standards to be higher than they are today.”

“When I came into Fleet Street the atmosphere was pretty lawless, I would say, pretty lawless.”

“As a young journalist on The Sun, for example, I was not really instructed how to behave, what to do.”

“I could really act with impunity.”

Morgan defended the Press Complaints Commission.

Morgan was unimpressed with the testimony of ordinary people who told the committee they were unhappy about the way they’d been treated by the media.

MIRROR, MIRROR THERE ARE two faces to Piers Morgan's comments about phone hacking and the other "dark arts" of illegal news-gathering. Throughout the early stages of the scandal, he was happy to give the impression most newspapers were involved. But as soon as senior figures in the Murdoch empire began to be arrested, he changed his tune. Now he claims he knew nothing about unlawful practices at the Daily Mirror ...         Photo: PA

MIRROR, MIRROR
THERE ARE two faces to Piers Morgan’s comments about phone hacking and the other “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering. Throughout the early stages of the scandal, he was happy to give the impression most newspapers were involved. But as soon as senior figures in the Murdoch empire began to be arrested, he changed his tune. Now he claims he knew nothing about unlawful practices at the Daily Mirror
Photo: PA

He told Chris Bryant that if people wrote to him:

“… I deal with it seriously and properly.”

“We go and get to the bottom of what the allegation is and if I discover that people have been trampling wilfully on people’s privacy, believe me, there are massive inquests in our newspaper.”

When it came to Adrian Flook’s turn to ask questions, he followed up this response:

“Can you give us an example of the last massive inquest?”

Morgan changed the subject and didn’t answer the question.

♦♦♦

LATER THAT morning, Brooks and Coulson appeared before the committee.

The two tabloid bosses were well-briefed and well-supported.

“They had many advisers with them and were treating the session with a lot of care,” remembers Adrian Flook.

But, out of the blue, the two editors faced a dangerous line of questioning from Labour’s Chris Bryant:

“There have been a series of stories over the past couple of years suggesting that The Sun, The Mirror, The Express, the News of the World, use private detectives, pay people to provide them with information which they should not legally have, pay the police to make sure they know things before they are rightfully public.”

“In the case of Sarah Payne, The Sun, The Mirror and The Express all paid £5,000 to somebody to steal sensitive documents and sell them to their newspaper.”

He then asked:

“Do either of your newspapers ever use private detectives, ever bug or pay the police?”

When Rebekah Brooks didn’t answer the question clearly, he tried again:

“And on the element of whether you ever pay the police for information?”

She replied:

“We have paid the police for information in the past”.

MEA CULPA REBEKAH BROOKS made the damaging admission that she'd paid police for information in the past when she appeared before the Culrure, Media & Sport select committee. PHOTO: PA

MEA CULPA
REBEKAH BROOKS made the damaging admission that she’d paid police for information in the past when she appeared before the Culture, Media & Sport select committee. She was cleared of all charges at the hacking trial earlier this year.
Photo: PA

Bryant followed up:

“And will you do it in the future?”

Rebekah Brooks started her answer but was interrupted by Coulson.

She only got as far as:

“It depends — “

when he interrupted:

“We operate within the [Press Complaints Commission] code and within the law — and if there is a clear public interest, then we will.”

Bryant sprang the trap:

“It’s illegal for police officers to receive payments.”

Coulson repeated:

“No. I just said, within the law.”

The exchange was brought to an end by committee chairman Gerald Kaufman.

But the damage had been done.

CHRIS BRYANT THE MP's questioning led to Rebekah Brooks admitting that she had paid police officers for information — a criminal offence. Photo: PA

CHRIS BRYANT
THE MP’s questioning led to Rebekah Brooks admitting that she had paid police officers for information — a criminal offence. It was later revealed that his phone had been hacked by the News of the World: he received £40,000 in damages.
Photo: PA

Brooks had admitted what many had long suspected: some newspapers paid police officers for valuable information.

Piers Morgan, a former Murdoch loyalist with stints on The Sun and a short period as News of the World editor, was in no doubt about the seriousness of the mistake.

In his 2006 memoirs The Insider he wrote:

… Rebekah excelled herself by virtually admitting she’s been illegally paying policemen for information.”

“I called to thank her for dropping the tabloid baton at the last minute.”

“She apologised:

“That’s why I should never be seen or heard in public,” she told him.

There has been speculation among investigative journalists that Brooks made her admission because she knew about Whittamore’s arrest.

And feared the committee had also got wind of it.

Was she trying to get an admission in before a committee member could make an accusation?

If so, she didn’t realise she had confessed to a criminal offence.

And why did Piers Morgan accuse her of “dropping the tabloid baton”?

Was it because he knew the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering were rife and that his own Daily Mirror was paying police for information?

Was it because he’d been one of the trail-blazers back in 1994 when he paid an enormous sum of money for an explosive police report about Princess Diana?

♦♦♦

IN 1994 the News of the World gained access to a police investigation into anonymous phone calls made by Princess Diana.

She’d been ringing a close friend of Prince Charles called Oliver Hoare.

The editor at the time was Piers Morgan.

He tells the story of what happened in his memoirs, The Insider.

In August 1994 news editor Alex Marunchak and chief crime reporter Gary Jones walked into Morgan’s office at the News of the World.

Gary Jones said:

“Got rather a big one here, boss. Diana’s a phone pest.”

PRINCESS DIANA IN 1994 the News of World paid a huge sum of money for a confidential police report into anonymous phone calls being made by the Princess.  Photo: PA

“PHONE PEST”
IN 1994 the News of the World paid a huge sum of money for a confidential police report into anonymous phone calls being made by the Princess. The editor was Piers Morgan …
Photo: PA

“The cops are investigating hundreds of calls she has made to a married art dealer called Oliver Hoare.”

When Morgan asked what the evidence was, Jones replied:

“Here’s a read-out from the police report.”

A source who had a copy of the report had read it over the phone and a reporter had taken a shorthand record of it.

The police report revealed that Hoare had received hundreds of silent, anonymous phone calls.

He called the police and BT traced the calls to Kensington Palace, the home of Princess Diana.

When police told Hoare, he said that he and his wife were friends of Charles and Diana.

He had been, in the words of the police report, “consoling her and becoming quite close to her” after her separation from Charles.

When the paper put it to Hoare, he declined to comment.

He did not deny there had been an investigation.

The News of the World ran the story over the front page and four inside pages.

The article had the by-lines of Gary Jones and Clive Goodman.

(Clive Goodman was the paper’s royal correspondent.

More than a decade later, in 2007, he and the paper’s private investigator Glenn Mulcaire would be gaoled for illegally hacking into the mobile phones of Princes William and Harry.)

The level of detail in the News of the World article was extraordinary.

It reported that Oliver Hoare went to the police in October 1993.

Detectives contacted British Telecom’s specialist Nuisance Calls Bureau who provided Hoare with a special code to allow BT to trace calls.

The first time this code was used was 13 January 1994.

This was the News of the World account of some of the six silent calls which came from phone lines used by the Princess on that first day:

8.45am: The phone rings and there is silence at the other end.

Oliver [Hoare] activates the tracing equipment for the first time.

It finds the source is a private number used by Prince Charles.

8.49am: Second call is made.

Oliver repeatedly asks: “Hello, hello, who’s there?”

“Who’s there?”

There’s no response.

The call is traced to another number — Princess Diana’s private line.

The reporters are told that the problem is passed on to Commander Robert Marsh, head of the Met’s Royalty Protection Squad.

Marsh then briefs a senior Home Office politician who alerts the Royal Household.

The calls come to an end.

♦♦♦

BUT DIANA immediately denied the story — and the next day, Monday, the Daily Mail published a long interview with her.

“I feel I am being destroyed,” she said.

“There is absolutely no truth in it.”

An anxious Piers Morgan was up early that day and, having read the Daily Mail interview, rang news editor Alex Marunchak at seven in the morning.

Marunchak tried to calm his worried editor:

“We’ve had the report read to us: she’s lying.”

But Morgan remained concerned.

He wrote in his diary:

“we can’t reveal this fact without potentially exposing our source, so where does that leave us?”

“And what if the report is a forgery?”

“I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.”

“I couldn’t eat or even drink a cup of tea. It was hellish.”

The News of the World was already getting calls from other newspapers asking if Morgan was going to resign.

But there was to be an extraordinary intervention.

Morgan was in the shower later that morning when his wife told him Rupert Murdoch was on the phone.

Morgan thought he was going to be fired.

RUPERT MURDOCH RANG HIS worried editor and told him the Princess Diana story was true. Just how he knew has never been revealed ...  Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
RANG HIS worried editor from the United States and told him the Princess Diana story was true. Just how he knew has never been revealed … but likely candidates include Number 10, the Home Office or the Metropolitan Police.
Photo: PA

“Hi Piers,” said Murdoch, “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.”

“So get on TV and tell the world she’s a liar.”

“Then say we’re running another great load of great stuff about it next week. OK?”

A relieved Morgan told him they didn’t have anything else on the story.

Murdoch said:

“Oh, you will have by Sunday — don’t worry. Gotta go. Good luck.”

Morgan went on the offensive and it soon became clear that the story was true.

But the next day, the focus switched to the source of the News of the World story.

“Everyone seemed to be blaming the police,” Morgan wrote in The Insider, “so I issued a statement saying it was categorically not a serving police officer, which is perfectly true.”

The following Sunday’s paper led with the story that Diana’s former lover James Hewitt had also received “cranky” calls from her.

Reporter Gary Jones went on to win the Press Gazette Reporter of the Year Award in 1995 for his work at the News of the World, including the exclusive about Diana’s anonymous calls.

When Piers Morgan was appointed editor of the Daily Mirror in 1995, Gary Jones soon followed.

At the paper, he became a major customer of private eye Steve Whittamore.

Today, he’s the Executive Editor of the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

LAST NIGHT Piers Morgan was busy on his Twitter account.

He has more than 4 million followers on the social media site.

We asked him to get in touch with us so we could give him the opportunity to reply to the allegations made in this article.

He didn’t reply.

UNDER FIRE PIERS MORGAN'S insistence he knew nothing about illegal activities during his nine years at the Mirror is  Photo: PA.

UNDER FIRE
PIERS MORGAN’S insistence he knew nothing about illegal activities during his nine years at the Mirror is slowly unravelling. He was questioned under caution by police last year. On Friday the Mirror group finally conceded some of the stories that appeared during his editorship were likely to have been the result of phone hacking and the “blagging” of personal information. The group has set aside £10 million to settle scores of legal actions against the Daily Mirror, People and Sunday Mirror — and last month paid substantial sums to a clutch of celebrities including Sven-Goran Eriksson. More cases are in the pipeline.  Operation Golding, the Metropolitan Police investigation into the Mirror group, has seen several arrests…
Photo: PA.

We asked Paul Vickers, Group Legal Director of the company which owns the Daily Mirror, if it 

— knew about Tom Newton Dunn’s involvement with Steve Whittamore

— knew about the large number of orders Whittamore received from current Executive Editor Gary Jones

— and if the company would suspend Jones pending an internal investigation.

Vickers told us last night:

“We have no comment to make.”

We also tried to get in touch with  Tom Newton Dunn.

As political editor of The Sun, he’s one of Britain’s most powerful journalists.

We sent a message via Twitter but he never replied.

We also contacted The Sun.

We asked if the paper if it was confident Newton Dunn had not broken the law in his news-gathering at The Sun after he joined in 2003.

We asked if there would be an internal investigation  — and if  Newton Dunn would be suspended pending the result of any such investigation.

There was no reply by the time this article was posted.

The Sun recently suspended reporter Mazher Mahmood after a judge accused him of lying during the Tulisa Contostavlos trial.

We also wrote to private eye Steve Whittamore.  

He didn’t reply.

♦♦♦

GANGBUSTERS WANTED

THERE’S AN old saying: “dog doesn’t eat dog” — reporters shouldn’t tell tales on colleagues. This is especially true of Piers Morgan who has formidable ties to much of Britain’s media. He’s friendly with his old mentor Rupert Murdoch which means the Times, Sun and Sunday Times won’t criticise him. The Mirror group — the Daily Mirror, The People and the Sunday Mirror — are unlikely to investigate because he worked for them. He’s now joined the Daily Mail online operation as US “Editor-at-Large” while his wife Celia Walden is a columnist with the Daily Telegraph. He currently presents Piers Morgan’s Life Stories for ITV and has worked for Channel 4 in the past. This partly explains why he’s escaped serious scrutiny up to now. Help Press Gang redress the balance by becoming a gangbuster: just hit the button …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

♦♦♦

COMING UP IN PART TWO:
ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was in the editor’s chair. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

TWEETING FOR JUSTICE

October 25, 2014
 
BEYOND CONTEMPT:
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE PHONE HACKING TRIAL

Peter Jukes
(Canbury Press, £15.99)

THIS BOOK is that rare beast — a ground-breaking volume that’s also entertaining and informative.

A writer’s eye view of what went on during the 130 day Old Bailey trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, it’s based on Jukes’ experiences as he reported live via Twitter.

Note the word writer in that last sentence.

PETER JUKES PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE the Old Bailey — his workplace for nearly four months — Peter Jukes covered the trial in thousands of live tweets.  Photo: Olivia Beasley / oliviabeasley.com

PETER JUKES
PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE the Old Bailey — his workplace for nearly four months — Peter Jukes covered the trial in thousands of live tweets.
Photo: Olivia Beasley / oliviabeasley.com

Jukes isn’t a professional journalist, he’s a dramatist and novelist.

He follows Peter Burden, the writer and entrepreneur whose 2008 book News of the World? was the first to expose the dark heart of the News of the World.

But Jukes’ tweets were only made possible by an enlightened judge.

Sir John Saunders is another rare breed — a judge concerned that justice in this country isn’t being reported as it used to be.

As newspapers decline, press reporting of court proceedings is fading away.

By permitting Jukes to live tweet, Saunders was allowing a fascinating experiment to take place.

Generally speaking, it’s been accepted as a valuable addition to the proceedings.

Jukes also pioneered crowd-funding — where followers underwrite the cost of the reporting — in British court reporting.

BROOKS & BROOKS THE LOVELETTER that revealed  of Rebekah Brooks' long-standing affair was one of the

MR & MRS BROOKS
THE SENSATIONAL love letter that revealed Rebekah Brooks’ long-standing affair with Andy Coulson was one of the battlegrounds of the trial.   Photo: PA

And, by adding this book to the tweets, he’s brought another dimension to his coverage of the trial.

The book doesn’t repeat (retweet) the tweets.

Instead, it goes behind the scenes and shows what, normally, only court reporters get to experience.

There’s a little of Dickens’ sharp observational eye in his accounts of the David v Goliath battle that took place in Court 12.

Naturally, this being the underlings of billionaire Rupert Murdoch versus The Crown, the normal rules were suspended.

In this trial, it’s the Crown that’s David.

The formidably talented and fantastically expensive battery of QCs acting for the defendants is Goliath.

The Crown’s two QCs were outgunned by the magnificent seven of the defence.

Jukes’ account of their battle over the love letter Rebekah Brooks wrote in 2004 — but never sent — to her lover Andy Coulson is fascinating.

Initially, although it’s hard to believe, the defence tried to argue that bringing it into the trial would infringe Rebekah Brooks’ … privacy.

Then they tried to keep it out of the prosecution opening because it would generate adverse publicity …

Both attempts failed but many reporters felt the defence overwhelmed the prosecution.

The book isn’t perfect — in the haste to get it out, there are typos and the index is spartan and sometimes unhelpful.

But these are small quibbles.

The book is a triumph and begins to show the internet, as well as hammering the viability of newspapers and magazines, is starting to throw up new forms of writing and journalism.

Paddy French

THE STING IN THE SINGER’S TALE

August 29, 2014

STING IN THE SINGER'S TALE

THE FULL story behind the dramatic collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos — and the unscrupulous role of Sun on Sunday reporter Mazher Mahmood — has not been told.

During the trial in July it became clear that one of Mahmood’s associates, a driver called Alan Smith, changed his witness statement after a discussion with the reporter.

Mahmood had claimed, at an earlier hearing, that he hadn’t spoken to him.

Press Gang can now reveal that Smith has a criminal record.

And it’s not the first time he’s played a devious role in one of the undercover reporter’s stories.

The judge in the Tulisa Contostavlos case concluded Mahmood deliberately lied to the court.

The case was dismissed.

Mahmood has now been suspended by The Sun and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the allegation that he committed perjury.

But the extraordinary sequence of events which led to the singer walking free has not been revealed — even though reporters were well aware of it.

The case also calls into question the willingness of Scotland Yard to base criminal cases on the work of a journalist with a long history of perjury allegations.

Long before Tulisa Contostavlos was charged, the editor of this website wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate Mahmood for perjury.

We pointed out that Mahmood had not only lied to the Leveson Inquiry about the number of convictions he’d secured but may also have lied about the issue in several of the criminal prosecutions he generated.

The Met did not reply.

This article tells the inside story of how one of Rupert Murdoch’s favourite reporters fell from grace …

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS The singer called Mazher Mahmood a liar as the case against her was sensationally dropped. Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS
THE SINGER speaking outside Southwark Crown Court after the charge that she had been involved in the supply of cocaine was sensationally dropped.  Photo: PA

♦♦♦

ON MAY 10 last year a gang practiced in the arts of entrapment prepared for another session with one of their victims.

The group had rented a suite at the 5 star Metropolitan Hotel just off Park Lane in the centre of London.

The target was the singer Tulisa Contostavlos.

She’d enjoyed a successful career with the hip hop band N’Dubz and had been a judge in the TV series The X Factor for two years running.

The man after her scalp was Mazher Mahmood.

In a controversial career spanning more than three decades, Mahmood had chalked up a reputation as one of the most dangerous adversaries in Fleet Street.

As the “Fake Sheik” he’d humiliated the rich and the powerful — including Prince Edward’s wife, the former Sophie Rhys-Jones, and the Duchess of Kent.

But he’d also seen famous celebrities and sportsmen gaoled after his elaborate stings.

This time it was to be a battle between the experienced Mahmood and a young woman from a broken family in North London.

The odds were stacked against the singer.

Tulisa Contostavlos was just 25.

At 50, Mahmood was twice her age.

She was the only child of musician parents who broke up when she was young.

She lived with her mother who had a long history of mental health problems.

STRAIGHT STALKING  Mazher Mahmood targeted the singer because she held out the promise of a "gold standard" sting — a huge story with criminal convictions at the end of it. Tulisa was young, beautiful and had taken her career in a successful hip hop band to a new level when she became an X Factor judge. But Mahmood also thought she was likely to be a cocaine user — one of the million or so British people who regularly use the drug with a heavy concentration in the entertainment business. She'd also played the part of an addict in a Channel 4 drama and came from a broken family. By early 2013 she'd made it plain she wanted a career in Hollywood — and was therefore ripe for a classic Mahmood sting.

STRAIGHT STALKING
MAZHER MAHMOOD targeted the singer because she held out the promise of a “gold standard” sting — a huge story with criminal convictions at the end of it. Tulisa was young, beautiful and had taken her career in a successful hip hop band to a new level when she became an X Factor judge. But Mahmood also thought she was likely to be a cocaine user — one of the million or so British people who regularly use the drug with a heavy concentration in the entertainment business. By early 2013 she’d made it plain she wanted a career in Hollywood — and was therefore ripe for a classic Mahmood sting …

In her autobiography Honest (2012) she revealed she’d self-harmed as a teenager.

She joined the hip hop band N’Dubz — named after the London district NW1 where she grew up — when she was 12.

The band had its first chart success in May 2007.

In November of that year — when she was 18 — she appeared in the Channel 4 programme Dubplate Drama.

She played a cocaine addict.

In 2011 and 2012 she was one of the judges on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor series.

In May 2012 her solo single “Young” went to No 1.

But a few months earlier her ex-boyfriend Justin Edwards posted online a sex video of the couple.

She took him to court and won damages against him.

By early 2013, she was disillusioned with the music business in Britain.

“I wanted to get out. I wanted to go into acting and piss off to America,” she said later.

She went to Los Angeles to audition for parts.

That’s where Mazher Mahmood and his gang targeted her.

He created a sting based on her public comment that she was a big fan of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio..

He pretended to be a Bollywood producer called Samir Khan and offered her a £3.5 million role in a movie starring alongside DiCaprio.

He flew her to Las Vegas in March 2013 and gave her and her entourage two suites at one of the city’s top hotels, the Venetian.

During her stay, she was given bodyguards and the best tables at nightclubs.

By the time the Las Vegas trip was over, she was convinced she was in line for a major movie that would transform her life.

“I was like a lost puppy,” she later recalled, “because I wanted it so badly to be true.”

♦♦♦

WHEN TULISA and her team arrived at the Metropolitan on May 10, Mahmood and his gang were ready.

The reporter and his entourage were armed with hidden cameras and microphones.

But the singer proved a tough nut to crack.

Throughout the long, six-hour session — and the constant flow of alcohol — she kept a cool head.

She clearly didn’t take drugs.

TABLES TURNED  ON THE journey home from a six hour session where she was plied with drink by Mazher Mahmood's gang, the singer made it clear she disapproved of drugs. It was a statement that was to save her from a criminal conviction — and dramatically turn the tables on her accuser. Mahmood is now being investigated for perjury ... a far more serious offence than the one she was charged with. Photo: PA

TABLES TURNED
ON THE journey home from a six hour session where she was plied with drink by Mazher Mahmood’s gang, the singer made it clear she disapproved of drugs. It was a statement that was to help save her from a criminal conviction — and dramatically turn the tables on her accuser. Mahmood is now being investigated for perjury … a far more serious offence than the one she was charged with.  Photo: PA

She was also discreet.

She was careful not to badmouth the famous people she knew — like Simon Cowell, the man behind X Factor.

Mahmood had brought up the subject of “celebrity prostitution”.

When it was suggested that she go to Mahmood’s bedroom, she refused.

She was going to land the part on the basis of her acting ability alone.

But Mahmood had a trick up his sleeve.

He didn’t believe in formal auditions, he said.

He preferred “social auditioning” and urged her to demonstrate that she could play the character of a young London druggie in order to get the part.

She played the part, pretending to be a member of a drug gang in her past.

Mahmood said he was coming back to London later that month and planning a night out for his friends at a strip club.

Could she help set up the evening?

Still in character, she said it would be no problem.

At the end of the evening, Mahmood’s driver took the singer and her team home.

The driver was a long-standing associate of Mahmood’s called Alan Smith.

During the journey Tulisa and her associates talked about the evening.

The singer said that a member of her family had a drug problem — and that she personally disapproved of them.

At this point she was revealing her real views on drugs …

♦♦♦

ON MAY 21 Tulisa spoke to Mazher Mahmood on the phone about the proposed evening at the night club.

He challenged her to prove her street credentials by giving him the name of a cocaine dealer.

She didn’t know any — but thought that her rapper friend Michael Coombs might pretend to be one.

He’d acted alongside her in the Channel 4 programme Dubplate Drama back in 2007 — Coombs had played the dealer to her character.

She thought he’d be able to string the producer along.

On May 22 Mahmood rang Coombs who agreed to supply cocaine.

At a meeting at the Dorchester in the early hours of the next day, Coombs sold the reporter just under half an ounce — 13.9 grams — of cocaine for £820.

MICHAEL COOMBS The 36-year-old rapper friend of Tulisa C, known as Mike GLC, pleaded guilty to selling Mazher Mahmood 13.9 grams of cocaine for £860. The case against him was also dropped when the judge realised that Mahmood had lied under oath. Photo: PA

MICHAEL COOMBS
THE RAPPER friend of Tulisa C, known as Mike GLC, pleaded guilty to selling Mazher Mahmood 13.9 grams of cocaine for £820. The case against him was also dropped when the judge realised that Mahmood had lied under oath.    Photo: PA

Coombs made it clear to Mahmood that he was only supplying the drugs as a favour to Tulisa.

The exchange was filmed.

On June 2 the Sun on Sunday “World Exclusive” front page proclaimed “Tulisa’s Cocaine Deal Shame”.

She was arrested two days later.

By the time the trial began on July 14 this year, the omens were not good for the singer.

Mike Coombs pleaded guilty to supplying the drug — and was likely to face a prison sentence.

The singer pleaded not guilty to being involved in the supply of cocaine.

Her defence team had earlier failed to have the case struck out.

Her barrister said that the offer of a £3.5 million role in a film alongside DiCaprio was an “exceptional inducement”.

He also argued that the evidence Mahmood supplied was invalid because it broke the Police and Criminal Evidence Act — it was tainted by the amounts of alcohol the singer had consumed.

Judge Alistair McCreath rejected both applications.

He also refused to allow the defence to introduce details of other criminal cases involving Mahmood which had collapsed.

And he would not allow the defence to bring evidence of Mahmood’s bad character.

The defence team were still confident that they had a strong defence.

But Tulisa later said she was 100 per cent certain she was going to be convicted:

“I was preparing for prison.”

♦♦♦ 

BUT A miracle was about to happen.

When Mahmood handed over the sting material to the police, there was nothing from the driver Alan Smith.

The defence had a hunch that his vehicle had been bugged on the night he took her home from the Metropolitan.

A few weeks before the trial, the defence insisted police take a statement from him.

On June 23 a detective constable rang Smith and took notes of the conversation.

Smith told the detective that the subject of drugs came up and Tulisa had been very negative about them.

The detective prepared a statement and rang Smith to check it.

Tulisa_-_The_Sun_-_02.06.13__1__.jpg(2000660001.310.0FEF6)

He made sure that the driver understood his obligations as a potential witness.

Smith said he was happy with the statement and would sign it.

The detective emailed the statement.

The next day, Smith rang the detective.

He said he was no longer sure it was the singer who had made the comment — it might have been another woman in the car.

The statement was changed and Smith signed it.

The next day, June 25, both statements were provided to the defence.

Here, they thought, was a ray of hope.

Smith’s initial statement gave credibility to the singer’s story that she was only playing a part when she was talking to Mahmood.

On June 27 — three days after Smith signed his changed statement — Mazher Mahmood was giving evidence under oath at a pre-trial hearing.

He was questioned by Tulisa’s barrister Jeremy Dein, QC about Alan Smith’s comment.

First, he was asked if the conversation between Alan Smith and the singer had been recorded.

“No”, answered Mahmood.

“But did you subsequently ask or find out, discuss with Mr Smith anything that was said in the car?

The answer was again “No”.

“Because I just want to see whether you were aware of this.”

“Mr Smith made a statement to the police saying that in the car Ms Contostavlos was talking about drugs and saying that a member of her family had a drug problem and she disapproved of drugs.”

“All I want to know from you is whether you discussed that with Mr Smith at any stage?”

The answer from Mahmood was clear and emphatic:

“No.”

Mahmood’s answers intrigued the defence team.

Lawyers from Hickman Rose, who represented the singer, began to make inquiries about Alan Smith.

They quickly discovered he’d been a long-term member of Mahmood’s team.

And he had a criminal record.

He’s also been involved in some of the reporter’s stories.

In May 1997, while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World, Mahmood published an exposé of  a centre in Hayes where the courts sent prisoners to do community service.

One of the people he exposed was an unemployed chauffeur called Alan Graham who was photographed sleeping in the back of a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.

The caption read “Snooze a Naughty Boy?”

What Mahmood did not tell News of the World readers was that Graham was actually one of his drivers, Alan Smith.

Mahmood calls him “Smithy” and describes him as a “bald-headed burly” and said he was a “wide boy”.

The Rolls Royce had been hired by the paper.

Smith had been sentenced to 100 hours community service by Uxbridge magistrates for fraud.

Mahmood later said that Smith had been included in the article under an alias to disguise the fact that he was the informant for the story …

♦♦♦

THE WEEK before the trial opened, the defence asked the Crown Prosecution Service to bring Alan Smith to the court as a potential witness.

On July 16, the third day of the trial, Smith was interviewed by defence solicitors in the presence of a Metropolitan Police detective.

This took place while Mahmood was on the stand, giving evidence for the prosecution.

BEN ROSE The lawyer headed the legal team representing Tulisa Contostavlos. They suspected

BEN ROSE
THE LAWYER headed the legal team representing Tulisa Contostavlos. Solicitors suspected there was something fishy about the evidence given by Mazher Mahmood’s driver … Photo: Hickman Rose

Smith confirmed that the original version of his statement stated that the subject of drugs had come up.

The singer had been very negative about them.

But he’d become unhappy about the statement.

He told the defence he’d sent a copy of the initial statement to Mahmood and then spoke to him about what he should do.

He said that Mahmood told him that, if he was unhappy with his statement, he should ring the police and change it.

The defence team were stunned.

Mahmood had said, on oath on June 27, that he hadn’t discussed anything with Smith.

Now the driver was saying the exact opposite.

One of the two men was lying…

♦♦♦

THE NEXT day, Thursday, was the fourth day of the trial.

It was to be a day of high drama.

Mazher Mahmood was back in the witness-box to be cross-examined by defence QC Jeremy Dein.

Overnight, Mahmood had learned what Smith had told the defence — and realised he now faced a serious dilemma.

Once again, Dein asked him if he’d discussed with Smith what was said in the car.

Mahmood now changed his story.

He admitted he had talked to the driver two weeks earlier.

He said that Smith had rung him and said he wasn’t happy with his statement.

Mahmood told the court Smith had emailed the statement and the two men then had a conversation about it.

Mahmood told him that he should ring the police and change it if he was not sure Tulisa had made the remark.

Dein put it to Mahmood that he had lied when he gave evidence at the earlier hearing.

“I disagree with you,” was Mahmood’s answer.

The barrister put it to him that it was he, Mahmood, who had persuaded Smith to change his statement.

“I did not,” replied Mahmood.

Mahmood added that the change made no difference.

Smith, he said, was sensitive about drugs because his son had recently died of a drugs overdose.

After Mahmood left the box, Judge Alistair McCreath sent the jury out.

He then addressed both the prosecution and the defence.

He made it clear that he felt Mahmood had told a “knowing lie” when he gave evidence on June 27.

And that he did so, in his opinion, to conceal “improper conduct”: he had interfered with evidence that would have been to Tulisa’s advantage.

In circumstances where a key witness was guilty of “gross misconduct”, he added, it would be an abuse for the state to rely on him.

It would also compromise judicial integrity — “it would be on the court’s conscience,” he said.

He then adjourned the court.

Throughout these proceedings, the press gallery was packed.

Reporters cannot report what’s said when the jury is out but the judge’s comments would have made it clear that Mahmood’s earlier dramatic climb-down was not only sensational — it now threatened the entire case.

Yet not a word of what had happened was reported by that evening’s radio and television news.

The next morning, the press were also silent.

The Daily Mail, for example, led with the story that one of Tulisa’s aides told Mahmood that he believed Simon Cowell was gay.

The defence team were disappointed.

They’d hoped press reports of the sensational developments might generate other material helpful to their case.

♦♦♦

FRIDAY WAS the fifth day of the trial.

By now it was clear that the judge was proposing to reopen the abuse application he had turned down the previous month.

The prosecution, though, were unable to get advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about contesting it.

So the matter was left to the following Monday.

By then, the CPS had thrown in the towel and made no objection to the judge re-opening the defence application to stop the proceedings.

Judge McCreath not only halted the trial — he also dismissed the case against Michael Coombs, who had already pleaded guilty to supplying the cocaine.

He said that if he had thrown out the case earlier, Coombs would not have had to stand trial.

In his judgment, McCreath was scathing about Mahmood’s evidence about Alan Smith’s statements:

“When he gave evidence last week, he was asked questions on the same topic and gave answers which were entirely inconsistent with his earlier evidence.”

“And it certainly appears that the contact he had with Mr Smith was not unconnected with a fundamental change in the evidence which it was anticipated Mr Smith was going to give.”

“He was, as you will have understood, expected to be able to give evidence supportive of Ms Contostavlos — that she told him she disapproves of hard drugs.”

RUPERT MURDOCH THE BILLIONAIRE media tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood. Is he now beginning to wonder if the "Fake Sheikh" has outlived his usefulness? Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
THE BILLIONAIRE media tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood…    Photo: PA

“But after his conversation with Mr Mahmood, he had changed his mind.”

“It should not be forgotten that Mr Mahmood is

– the sole progenitor of this case

– the sole investigator

– the sole prosecution witness

– a man who has exercised his journalistic privilege to create a situation where the identities of others involved in the investigation are unknown to the defence (or the prosecution or even to me)

– someone who appears to have gone to considerable lengths to get Ms Contostavlos to agree to involve herself in criminal conduct, certainly to far greater lengths that would have been regarded as appropriate had he been a police investigator.”

He concluded:

 “there are strong grounds for believing that Mr Mahmood told me lies when he gave evidence to me on June 27”.

And he added:

“there are also strong grounds for believing that the underlying purpose of these lies was to conceal the fact that he had been manipulating the evidence in this case by getting Mr Smith to change his account.”

He ended by saying, ominously for Mahmood:

“My view of the evidence cannot bind any other court which may (or may not) be called on to consider this matter in a different context.”

The fall-out from the collapse of the case was instant.

The Sun suspended Mahmood until an “immediate internal investigation” was complete.

The paper issued a statement:

“We are very disappointed with this outcome, but do believe the original investigation was conducted within the bounds of the law and the industry’s code.”

But it added:

The Sun, of course, takes the judge’s remarks very seriously.”

A spokesman for The Sun told us this week Mahmood remains suspended and that “the internal investigation is ongoing.”

“I will not divulge further details of an internal investigation.”

He added that Alan Smith “worked on an ad-hoc basis with Mr Mahmood.”

The Met said:

” … the Metropolitan Police Service have been able to consider the judgment issued by the trial Judge along with other material supplied by the Prosecution Counsel …”.

“As a consequence of the information supplied officers from Specialist Crime and Operations are now investigating whether any of the matters highlighted amount to the commission of any criminal offences.”

The CPS said it “has no investigative powers and therefore any criminal investigations following the conclusion of this case are a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service.”

On September 30 lawyers for Tulisa Contostavlos will be in court for a hearing to determine if the Sun on Sunday should pay her legal costs.

They have still not decided if she will sue the newspaper.

♦♦♦

THE COLLAPSE of the trial raises many questions.

There’s no doubt the Metropolitan Police had no choice but to investigate when presented with clear evidence that Michael Coombs had sold drugs to Mahmood.

But the force was well aware that Mahmood, throughout his career, has come in for sustained criticism about his methods, some of it from judges.

They should have subjected his evidence to a forensic investigation of their own.

It should have been the force that interviewed Alan Smith and not have left it to the defence to force them to do it.

If Smith had not been interviewed, it’s possible Tulisa Contostavlos would now have a criminal record.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD When Press Gang editor wrote and asked the force to investigate  allegations that Mazher Mahmood may have committed perjury in many of the cases where he gave evidence, there was no reply. Photo: Rebecca Television

NEW SCOTLAND YARD
IN 2012 Press Gang editor Paddy French wrote and asked the force to investigate allegations that Mazher Mahmood may have committed perjury in many of the cases where he gave evidence. There was no reply.                    Photo: Rebecca Television

The force can’t say it wasn’t warned about the possibility of Mahmood committing perjury.

InNovember 2012 the editor of this website, Paddy French, wrote to Sue Akers, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, asking her to investigate allegations that Mahmood was a serial perjurer.

The letter cited the claim he made to the Leveson Inquiry, under oath, that he had more than 250 criminal convictions to his credit while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World.

This was untrue.

Paddy French and researcher Chris Nichols had examined the News of the World throughout Mahmood’s career — and could find reports of only 70 convictions.

The full story is contained in the article The Life And Times Of A Serial Perjurer.

In the wake of this investigation, the Leveson Inquiry put the allegation to Mahmood.

What was then called News International called in the lawfirm Linklaters to carry out a proper audit.

In a subsequent statement to Leveson, Mahmood admitted that Linklaters could only find 94.

The letter also drew attention to the case against the London’s Burning actor John Alford who was gaoled in 1999 for supplying cocaine to Mahmood.

“In the September 2000 judgment refusing the actor known as John Alford leave to appeal against a nine month sentence for supplying cocaine to Mazher Mahmood’s undercover team in 1999, the court noted that Mahmood claimed 89 SCPs [successful criminal prosecutions”.

At that point, French and Nichols had found only 28.

The letter concluded by asking the Met “to examine Mr Mahmood’s testimony in all the court cases he gave evidence in to see if he has potentially committed perjury …”

A press officer told us Akers had retired and “the letter has been forwarded to deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh for consideration.”

“You will be contacted in due course.”

Kavanagh never replied.

♦♦♦

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