MP Tom Watson’s new claims about the News of the World and police corruption:
- Daniel Morgan took police corruption story to News of the World a week before his murder
- Police officers paid by NoW for information about the Soham murder case
- Close links between NoW’s Alex Marunchak and criminal private eye Jonathan Rees
Fresh questions have been raised in Parliament over links between former News of the World crime correspondent Alex Marunchak, a private investigator and one of the UK’s most notorious unsolved murders.
Five separate investigations have been held into the 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan but all were hampered by police corruption and failed to result in a single conviction.
In March last year Morgan’s former business partner, the private investigator Jonathan Rees, was one of three men acquitted of his murder.
It was already known that Rees worked extensively for national newspapers but today the Labour MP Tom Watson made a series of allegations about the News of the World’s involvement in the case.
He claimed that Rees and Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery, who were both arrested in the original inquiry, were at the ‘corrupt nexus of private investigators, police officers and journalists at the News of the World”.
Watson said: ‘Through the hacking scandal, we now know Southern Investigations [a company owned by Rees] became the hub of a web of police and media contacts involving the illegal theft [and] disclosure of information obtained through Rees and Fillery’s corrupted contacts.
‘Southern Investigations sold information to many newspapers during the 1990s but we think exclusively to News International after Rees was released from jail in 2005.
‘The main conduit at NI was Alex Marunchak, chief crime reporter for the News of the World and later the paper’s Irish editor.”
‘Close relationship between Rees and Marunchak’
Watson claimed Rees’s relationship with Marunchak was so close they both registered companies at the same address in Thornton Heath.
He said: ‘Rees’s confirmed links with Marunchak take the murder of Daniel Morgan to a new level.”
Watson said that in the days before the murder Morgan’s family believed he was on the ‘verge of exposing huge police corruption”, which he said was also confirmed by a former employer of Morgan.
He said he believed that Morgan was about to sell the story to the News of the World and that his contact there was with Alex Marunchak.
Watson said that a BBC investigation has since seen evidence suggesting that a week before the murder Morgan was about to take a story exposing police corruption to Marunchak and was promised a payment of £40,000
Watson added: ‘We also know from the investigative reporting of Nick Davies and the Guardian that Southern Investigations paid the debts of Alex Marunchak.”
As part of the third failed investigation into Morgan’s death the Met launched Operation Nigeria, which included surveillance of Southern Investigations between May and Sept 1999.
The Met’s anti-corruption squad bugged Rees’s office, leading to evidence that resulted in him being jailed for another unrelated crime.
‘Police surveillance shows frequent contact between Rees and Marunchak,’said Watson, who said that not all the tapes had been transcribed.
‘If they were to be they would yield more collusion perhaps criminal in nature between News International and Jonathan Rees,’he alleged.
Watson also noted that in 2002, detective chief superintendent Dave Cook was put under surveillance ‘by a close business associate of the man he was investigating”.
Cook’s wife Jacqui Hames, a former policewoman and Crimewatch presenter, claimed yesterday at the Leveson Inquiry that this surveillance by the News of the World was intended to ‘intimidate us and so attempt to subvert the investigation’into the Morgan murder.
Watson said this issue was raised at a meeting between Met Police officers and then News of the World editor Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) in 2002.
Watson said: ‘I’d just like the minister to imagine what his response would have been to that information: a journalist you’re employing tried to undermine the murder investigation of his close associate.
‘Rupert Murdoch claims that News International takes a zero tolerance approach to wrongdoing. Far from launching a widescale inquiry to investigate wrongdoing, however, Rebekah Brooks promoted Alex Marunchak to the editor’s job of News of the World in Ireland.”
New allegations about Soham murders
He went on: “I would like the minister to request to see all the intelligence reports submitted about Alex Marunchak. I believe the Met are sitting on an intelligence report from late 2002 that claims a police contact overheard Marunchak claim he was paying the relatives of police officers in Cambridgeshire for information about the Soham murders.
‘These are allegations that as far as we know have not been investigated.
‘I don’t know whether these intelligence reports are accurate but I do know that Alex Marunchak was involved in writing stories about the Manchester United tops of these young girls were found.
‘I also believe that at least one of the Soham parents appears in the evidence file of Glenn Mulcaire. The Met police failed to investigate both leads when reported in 2002 and 2006.”
He added: ‘I think Rupert Murdoch owes the Morgan family an apology, and I don’t think he’s made his last apology to the grieving parents of murdered children.
‘Daniel’s family will never see his murderer brought to justice, corruption at the Metropolitan Police has ensured that, but the minister has it in his power to see that they get an explanation as to the failure.’
The family is now calling for a judicial inquiry into the police handling of the murder because they have lost faith in the police.
‘Under the circumstances, wouldn’t anybody?”, said Watson.
In response, minister of state for policing and criminal justice Nick Herbert said a judicial inquiry had not been ruled out. But he did warn that such an inquiry would take some time to complete and would not lead directly to prosecutions.
He said that Met operations Weeting and Tuleta, looking at bribery and computer hacking, could shed new light on the Daniel Morgan case – particularly the allegations about the surveillance of detective chief superintendent Cook.
Government and the police will do all they can ‘not just to bring the murderers of Daniel Morgan to justice but also to ensure that other issues around police corruption are investigated and addressed”, he added.
Herbert said the Government has ‘not ruled out ordering a judicial inquiry at this stage”, but said that another option was to launch a QC-supervised investigation into the Morgan case carried out by an outside police force.
He concluded that there was a commitment from the Government to ensure ‘all that can be done is done for Daniel Morgan and his family’pledging to ‘get to the bottom of this matter.”