Padraig Colman

Rambling ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka

Tag: Rebekah Brooks

The Mysterious Death of Daniel Morgan -Part Two

This article was published in Ceylon Today on June 25, 2021.

https://ceylontoday.lk/news/daniel-morgan-s-mysterious-death

the criminal/ media/political nexus – Gordon Brown

 

Daniel Morgan was found dead in the carpark of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham at 9.40 pm on 10 March 1987 with an axe in his head. Morgan was a private investigator operating an agency called Southern Investigations based in Thornton Heath near Croydon in Surrey. Despite five police investigations, still no-one has been convicted of the murder. Morgan’s family have been waiting 34 years for some answers.  An independent inquiry, the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (DMIP), chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, into the Metropolitan Police’s investigation of the murder was set up eight years ago. The panel also investigated “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them”. The report was published without redactions on June 15, 2021.

Rees at the time of the murder.

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

Rees and Margaret Harrison today

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

Andy Coulson

Andy Coulson was the editor of the News of the World from 2003 until 2007.  Coulson got on well with David Cameron (who became leader of the Conservative Party in 2005) and his former Bullingdon Club buddy George Osborne (who became Chancellor of the Exchequer when Cameron became prime minister in 2010) despite publishing stories about them taking drugs. A PR man had said that one of Coulson’s most useful attributes was his ability to “screw you over and make you feel good about it”.

When current prime minister, Boris Johnson, was running for mayor of London in 2007, Coulson helped with the campaign but still wrote about Johnson: “for a posh bloke who went to Eton, he has an uncanny popular touch. He also has an uncanny habit of cheating on his wife.” Coulson cheated on his own wife with Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) when she was his editor at the News of the World.

Coulson resigned the editorship following the conviction of one of the News of the World’s reporters for phone-hacking. Despite this, David Cameron saw fit to give Coulson a £140,000 a year job as his communications director. Coulson did eventually lose that job when he was sent to prison. In June 2014 at the Old Bailey, Coulson was found guilty of a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails (phone-hacking).  One of the phones hacked was that of Milly Dowler, the thirteen-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered by Levi Bellfield. Coulson was sentenced on 4 July 2014 to 18 months in prison. He only served five months.

Coulson copped

Rebekah Brooks

Brooks was born Rebekah Wade. She married actor Ross Kemp (who played the thuggish Grant Mitchell in the teledrama EastEnders) in June 2002 in Las Vegas, while she was editor of The Sun.

On 3 November 2005, it was reported that Brooks had been arrested following an alleged assault on Kemp. She was released without charge, and the police took no further action. The Sun had been running a campaign against domestic violence at the time. She married former racehorse trainer and author Charlie Brooks in 2009. The couple are key members of the so-called Chipping Norton set, which includes David Cameron.

Brooks has something in common with our beloved CBK – in her entry in Who’s Who, she claimed, to much amusement, that she had studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. Brooks joined the News of the World in 1989 as a secretary. She became a features writer and then deputy editor. In 2000, she became the UK’s youngest editor. She prepared for an interview with James Hewitt, a lover of Princess Diana, by bugging his hotel room.  She oversaw the News of the World’s campaign of “naming and shaming” suspected sex offenders launched in the wake of the murder of Sarah Payne. As part of the campaign the phone of Sarah’s mother was hacked. The campaign was described as “grossly irresponsible” journalism by the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Butler. 

In March 2003, Rebekah Brooks, then editor of The Sun, and Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World testified together before the Commons media select committee. Brooks responded to a question about payments to the police saying that the organization paid the police for information in the past. Asked if she would do so again in the future, her answer was pre-empted by Coulson who stated that, if there is a clear public interest, they would continue with that practice. It was pointed out to Coulson that it was always illegal to pay police officers, regardless of public interest.

In September 2015, Brooks was confirmed as CEO of News UK, the renamed News International, re-establishing the working relationship with News Corp founder and chairman Rupert Murdoch. Brooks and Murdoch’s daughter, Elizabeth, were frequent guests at David Cameron’s Chipping Norton home.

Phone Hacking

By 2002, British newspapers were making frequent use of an organised trade in confidential personal information acquired by Illegal means. The tabloid press routinely used information illicitly gained from hacking private voicemail accounts on mobile phones and hacking computers.

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

Press Intimidation

During the fourth investigation into Daniel Morgan’s death, the senior investigating officer, David Cook, told Rebekah Brooks, that he and his family were under surveillance by News of the World journalists.

Cook’s wife, also a police officer, alleged that there was a campaign of intimidation against them. The staff involved were promoted not reprimanded. The DMIP report says,  “the circumstantial evidence suggests very strongly that intrusive activity suffered by DCS Cook, his wife Jacqui Hames, and their family was arranged by former DS Sid Fillery and Alex Marunchak.”

Jacqui Hames on Crimewatch

 

Alex Marunchak was the star crime writer at the News of the World, who became an executive.

He was the main point of contact at the newspaper for Rees and Fillery. It was alleged that Marunchak commissioned surveillance by shady investigator Glen Mulcaire on Cook in order to “subvert” the detective’s investigation into Morgan’s murder.

Mulcaire was the lowlife who hacked Milly Dowler’s phone. He was jailed for hacking in 2007.

Millie Dowler

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

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

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

Careless People Part Two

This article appeared in Ceylon Today on June 2, 2021.

https://ceylontoday.lk/category/print-edition/columns

“They were careless people … they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Indolent, Shambling Greed

I am not the only writer to have used the phrase “careless people” in relation to Tory politicians. The philosopher John Gray wrote a scathing article in the New Statesman in which he said that the Greensill scandal illuminates a larger truth about David Cameron’s character: “It is not so much the spectacle of indolent, shambling greed that is remarkable; it was only to be expected that a life of mere affluence would fail to satisfy Cameron’s mammoth sense of entitlement. Instead, it is the credulity he displayed.” New Statesman editor, Jason Cowley, writes: “It was under Mr Cameron that the UK pursued destructive austerity, a doomed renegotiation with the EU, a botched reorganisation of the NHS, dysfunctional welfare reform, an unworkable net migration target and a delusionary ‘golden era’ with China. The bid to make Greensill Capital a virtual arm of the British state is but the latest fantasy that has unravelled.” Cameron was foolish enough to claim in a new foreword to the paperback edition of his memoirs that austerity left Britain better-prepared for the pandemic! As Cowley explains, “austerity enfeebled the state. Real-terms reserves for public health spending in England fell by 30 per cent from 2015 to 2019, while the prevalence of diabetes and obesity rose. Local authorities, which in less centralised countries were crucial to the pandemic response, lost an average of 60p in every pound of government grants from 2010 to 2020. Cuts to schools increased class sizes, making social distancing harder.”

Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian was also recently quoting the “careless people” passage from F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby, but he was onto this theme eight years ago. “The top 1% of Britons were taking 15% of all income received in the country. This cash is then turned into houses, shares and other assets so that now the top 1% hold over 50% of all Britain’s marketable wealth. And so, inequality is passed down the generations. Today’s headlines offer endless examples. The average London house now costs over half a million, or more than 19 times what the average British worker makes in a year.” 

Cameron Family Money

Cameron’s grandfather Donald was a director at the stockbroking house Panmure Gordon. When he died in 1958, he left £57,000, which would be worth a million today. David Cameron’s father, Ian, also worked at Panmure Gordon and was reported to have trousered £2m when the company was sold to an American firm. He set up Blairmore Holdings Inc in 1982. In 2009, his personal fortune was estimated by the Sunday Times as £ ten million. There have been credible allegations that he had large amounts buried in tax havens.

Cameron is now pleading hard times. “There isn’t really a roadmap for an ex-prime minister…particularly a young one …”   

Bullingdon Bullies

George Osborne and Natalie Rowe 1994

 

The grand old days of Osborne and Cameron’s austerity.

 

Cameron, his Chancellor George Osborne and current prime minister Boris Johnson were all members of the exclusive Bullingdon Club at Oxford. The Wisden Cricketer reports that the Bullingdon is “ostensibly one of the two original Oxford University cricket teams but it actually used cricket merely as a respectable front for the mischievous, destructive or self-indulgent tendencies of its members”. On 12 May 1894, after dinner, Bullingdon members smashed almost all the glass of the lights and 468 windows in Peckwater Quad of Christ Church, along with the blinds and doors of the building, and again on 20 February 1927. Today, the club often books private dining rooms under an assumed name, as most restaurateurs are cautious of the Club’s reputation as being the cause of considerable drunken damage during the course of their dinners. Andrew Gimson, biographer of Boris Johnson, reported about the club in the 1980s: “I don’t think an evening would have ended without a restaurant being trashed and being paid for in full, very often in cash. […] A night in the cells would be regarded as being par for a Buller man and so would debagging anyone who really attracted the irritation of the Buller men.” In December 2005, Bullingdon Club members smashed 17 bottles of wine, “every piece of crockery,” and a window at the 15th-century White Hart pub in Fyfield near Oxford.

Chippings off the Old Block

In 2012, The Daily Telegraph identified a number of people as being part of a “Chipping Norton Set”. The set included the Camerons, Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband Matthew Freud, Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of Murdoch’s News International and her husband, old-Etonian racehorse trainer and thriller writer Charlie Brooks. Stephen Glover, columnist with the Daily Mail, first coined the term ‘Chipping Norton set’ to describe a privileged bunch of residents and their elite habits. The main protagonists quickly became synonymous with the public view of an out-of-touch ruling class, pandering to their own whims while the nation suffered austerity. Scott Fitzgerald would have found much material here.

Elizabeth Murdoch and former husband Matthew Freud

Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch

 

Hackers

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks arrive at the Old Bailey on March 3, 2014.She escaped jail and continues to flourish.

Brooks was involved in a phone hacking scandal for which News of the World editor Andy Coulson went to jail. These awful people hacked the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler who had been raped and brutally murdered.

In October 2013, it was revealed that Coulson had had an affair with Rebekah Brooks that lasted from 1998 to 2007. After David Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010, he appointed Coulson as Director of Communications for the government at 10 Downing Street. His pay was £140,000, making him the highest paid special advisor. The judge hearing Coulson’s trial was critical of the prime minister, pondering whether the intervention was out of ignorance or deliberate, and demanded an explanation.

Private investigator Daniel Morgan was found dead in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham in 1987 with an axe embedded in his head. His killing is thought to have been motivated by his knowledge of extensive and high-level corruption within the Metropolitan Police and dirty dealings by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Former prime minister Gordon Brown coined the term “criminal media nexus”.

When he was editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson hired Morgan’s business partner Jonathan Rees after he was released from a five-year prison sentence in 2005. He had been convicted of planting cocaine to incriminate an innocent woman. Rees was a suspect in the Morgan investigation.

Current home secretary Priti Patel is insisting that the independent panel, chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, investigating the murder of Daniel Morgan, hand its report to her for vetting before publishing it.

 

Baroness O’Loan

Publication of the report, which was due on May 25, eight years after the inquiry was set up, will be further delayed. Patel was a guest at Rupert Murdoch’s 2016 wedding in London to Jerry Hall, former wife of Mick Jagger.

 

 

Priti Patel, the poison dwarf, at St. Bride’s Church on Fleet Street,  05 March 2016

More about the Daniel Morgan case next week.

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