Justice Denied: The Daniel Morgan Murder

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A system that has to be just and fair enough to defend the rights of individuals is a major source of injustice and corruption in itself. This series of five fact-based documentaries takes us to the real world of the so-called justice in the UK. Here we see and hear the stories of five individuals who have been subject of miscarriages in the United Kingdom. Each episode focuses on ordinary, victim people who, through misfortune or mere bad luck, had to resort to the civil or the criminal justice system in order to seek redress but have been let down. At the end of the day, we get beneath the veneer of the judicial structure of the UK, which seemingly appears efficient and accessible, but in reality, suffers from endemic shortfalls.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: (Michael Doherty) Britain has been rocked by scandal upon scandal from its police force. The organisation has repeatedly been found wanting when it comes to stamping out corrupt and criminal behaviour in its ranks.My name is Michael Doherty. I’m a civil liberties campaigner and founder of Justice Now. I seek to bring about fundamental change to the systems of police accountability in the UK.Daniel Morgan was murdered in cold blood in 1987, and nearly 3 decades on his killer has still not been brought to justice. His family have fought tirelessly to keep the case alive.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: “At every stage the criminal justice system has let us down.”

Narration: Allegations of police corruption and cover up began just weeks after Daniel's death, yet 5 separate investigations have failed to get to the truth.

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge: “Our balances and checks in our society, in our oversight of police for example should in theory spring into action and take up the case on their behalf but that hasn’t happened in this case.”

Narration: The Metropolitan police may have turned over a new leaf but is it too late to catch the killers of Daniel Morgan?

INTERVIEW [English], Lord Smith: “It remains one of the really scandalously unsolved crimes of the last 20 years or so.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “On the 10th of March 1987 a private investigator by the name of Daniel Morgan left this south London pub, heading for the car park, but he never reached his car. He was attacked from behind, killed in a savage attack by a man wielding an axe.”

Narration: Daniel's brother, Alastair, describes the assault

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: The first blow was to the crown of his head”

INTERVIEW [English], Michael Doherty: “And this was with an axe?”

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: With an axe, yeah. In fact he was struck 4 times with the axe and while he was on the ground the final blow severed the brain stem it was so violent. The axe was embedded to the haft in his head.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “Examinations revealed that Daniel’s watch had been stolen from his wrist and his trouser pocket ripped. Signs of a robbery perhaps, but his killer had left a wallet full of cash in his jacket pocket. The whole murder seemed odd and the motives unclear.”

Narration: It seemed almost certain that the murder waspremeditated. But why kill him? His profession may hold some clues.Daniel worked as a private investigator. He found he had a talent for itand started his own company -Southern Investigations.

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “Daniel didn’t run Southern Investigations alone, he had a business partner by the name of Jonathan Rees who was with him that night at the Golden Lion pub on the night of his death. The relationship between Daniel and Jonathan Rees had been going downhill prior to his death.”

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: Daniel more and more began to feel that he wanted out, he didn’t want to work anymore with Rees, the partnership had soured. I can remember him saying to me once, “Alastair I drove 40 thousand miles last year and that entire guy does is stand in the bar with his CID mates.” My brother didn’t have a great deal of time for the police, he didn’t have respect for them and on one occasion he told me that there was corruption all over the place in that part of London.”

Narration: When searching for a motive for this murder,the increasingly sour relationship with his businesspartner is one line of enquiry, but a second possibility isin comments that Daniel made to various peoplein the days before his death.Alastair recalls one of these conversations.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: On the Sunday before his murder Daniel went to a meeting of the Austin Healey club, a classic car club. And he told one of them that he was dealing with some serious police corruption and he didn’t know who to go to in the police that he could trust, and then 2 days later he was dead. It was quite clear that he was worried about police corruption when he was murdered.”

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective: “There is evidence to suggest that Daniel Morgan had got himself involved with powerful figures, certainly within the police and perhaps outside, and of course that could provide a very compelling motive for him to be silenced. Not least because he was allegedly about to spill the beans on a major corruption story.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Narration: The investigation into Daniel's murder began immediately following his death. This was the first investigation, we'll count them as we go.Alastair met with Jonathan Rees the day afterhis brother's death, and Rees told him that Sid Fillery was one of the officersinvestigating the murder.Sid knew both Rees and Daniel,he occasionally did some work for Southern Investigations. Sid Fillery was arrested 3 weeks into theinvestigation along with 2 other police officers, Jonathan Rees, and Rees's 2 brothers in law Glenn and Gary Vian. They were questioned for 1 day and released.All denied having any involvement with Daniel Morgan's murder.

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “It was at this point that we started to see hints of police corruption. The leader of the investigation, super intendment Campbell couldn’t trust officers at stations like this in Cat ford. He wanted a totally new investigation by a totally separate police force.”

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: I only found this out a couple of years ago, he went right to the top of the yard and said I can’t do this investigation – there are policemen in this area who I cannot trust and he wanted it to be handed over from him. He felt he couldn’t do it.”

INTERVIEW [English], Michael Doherty: “He felt the investigation was being compromised?”

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: Yes, yes.”

Narration: The inquest into Daniel's murder took place 1 yearafter his death.The most incredible evidence given to the inquest came from Kevin Lennon - the accountant for Southern Investigations. The accusations he put forward were incendiary.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: “He told the court that he had been approached on a number of occasions by Jonathan Rees to find somebody to kill Daniel. He says that he refused on a number of occasions to get involved in it but at some point Rees had approached him and said “don’t worry Kevin, I’ve got it sorted. My friends at Catford CID are either going to kill Daniel themselves or they’re going to get somebody who’s on a charge and have them kill Daniel in exchange for dropping the charges. And my friend Sid Fillery is going to be on the investigation and he’s going to sort the investigation out and he’s then going to take early retirement with an enhanced sick pension and he’s going to go into partnership with me.””

Narration: The most remarkable aspect of Kevin Lennon'sevidence is that he had made the statement in September 1987,but by the time it was made public in April 1988,his predictions had come true.The inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killingbut it was the police's inquiries that really mattered.Alastair expressed his misgivings about theinvestigation and it wound up being transferredto Hampshire police. They werebrought in to both investigate the murder, andlook into any possible police corruption attached to it.This was investigation number 2. And it seemedat one point to be making progress.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: They charged Jonathan Rees and a man called Paul Goodridge with the murder, and this came out of the blue. When it came to committal the crown offered no evidence and the case collapsed. At every stage the criminal justice system has let us down.”

Narration:After the case against Rees and Goodridge was dropped in 1989 progress ground to a haltfor an entire decade.Alastair did not stop campaigning though.One ally he enlisted in his fight was Lord Smith -who was at the time Alastair's MP.

INTERVIEW [English], Lord Smith, Alastair Morgan’s Former MP: “I got in touch with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, I got in touch with the Home Secretary, I raised the issue, I said look so far this investigation has gone nowhere, this is quite simply not acceptable. We’ve got to reopen this. For the whole of the next 7 or 8 years I kept on beavering away trying to do this. I lost count of the number of times a new inquiry was opened or a new person was put onto the case or a new senior police officer came to see me to say they were doing everything they could to look into it.”

Narration:We have repeatedly invited the Metropolitan Police to putsomeone up for interview but they declined, stating that itwould be "inappropriate" due to the Home Office's ongoingwork on the case - more on their inquiries later.We submitted a list of written questions to the Metbut once again they have declined to comment,even on general issues of fighting corruption.Whilst it is understandable that they would not wantto jeopardise ongoing inquiries, it is less clear why theywould choose not to make any comment, however limited,on a case that clearly has ramifications for the British public.Charles Shoebridge is a former police officerand his views on the levels of corruption going onchanged dramatically as he moved up thecareer ladder in the Metropolitan police.

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective: “When I first joined the police, every police officer in Britain has to do at least 2 years walking the beat, dealing with everyday 999 emergency call incidents. I would tell my friends at that time who thought the police were corrupt, no it’s no the case. Then I became a counter terrorism intelligence officer working from Scotland Yard.”

Narration: In this role, Charles' expertise would occasionallybe deployed in investigating corruption withinthe police. This altered his view considerably.

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective: “Without – as I feel I’m unable to – going into specific examples, that was a real eye opener. You then did see that particularly against some organised groups within the police, one in particular of the regional crime squads – withintthose organisations there was corruption. It could involve violence, it could involve drug dealing, things that if it was an ordinary member of the public would be regarded as quite serious offences. Yet investigations that were mounted against these people seemed to always reach a dead end.”

Narration: When allegations of corruption are made, do you think the police investigate as vigorously as possible?

INTERVIEW [English], Lord Smith, Alastair Morgan’s Former MP: “It depends on the particular allegations and on the particular police force. Some allegations get investigated very quickly, some seem to linger around for far too long.”

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective “Repeatedly over many decades senior police chiefs have said it’s a problem from the past, even if it’s just a few years in the past. That’s the attitude. I think the idea that there is no corruption in the police is one that senior police officers shouldn’t have themselves, it is there, if they look hard enough to find it they will find it, if they deploy sufficient resources they would find their convictions. Sometimes I think even people who are not involved in the corruption want to cover up the corruption because they are worried about the image of the police and therefore it undermines a lot of the admittedly good work that the police do to enhance their image. And let’s face it the police do do a lot of good work, including the metropolitan police.”

Narration: Lord Smith's interactions with the policerevealed that many officers were doingtheir best to rectify the mistakes of the pastand deliver justice for the Morgan family.

INTERVIEW [English], Lord Smith, Alastair Morgan’s Former MP: “I think there were a number of genuinely concerned senior police officers during the period I was arguing for another look at the case there were some officers who did seem to take it seriously, who were making a genuine effort to try and establish what was happening. I think it was the system that was the problem rather than the good will of individual officers. There was simply not enough attention, resource, focus and power behind the various enquiries.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “After nearly a decade of inaction the Morgan family learned of a new investigation in 1999. This was the 3rd investigation. The police had bugged several locations, including the officers of Southern Investigation here in Thornton Heath. The police were listening in on Jonathan Rees.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

Narration: Some months into the operation a conspiracy wasuncovered. A man came to Southern Investigationsfor help, he wanted them to ensure he won custodyof his children in a divorce.What was Southern Investigations' solutionto this? Plant drugs in his ex-wife's carto incriminate her.The whole plot was recorded.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: This conspiracy was actually carried out. The drugs were planted, it was filmed by the police, the whole thing. Another serving police officer was involved in this and they were caught red handed.”

Narration: Rees and the corrupt officer were arrestedand convicted. The officer was given a 4 year sentenceand Rees got 7.The bugging also revealed that Mr Reeswas working extensively with the tabloids.He was routinely paying police officers forinformation and selling it on to the newspapers.

Unfortunately, the murder investigation was abandonedwhen the drugs conspiracy was uncovered.This meant a whole new attempt was launched in 2001.4 investigations in 14 years.But in 2003 the Crown ProsecutionService decided not to bring any charges.4 failures in 16 years.2006 would see a 5th investigation,but by this time the Morgan family hadseen their hopes dashed on 4 separateoccasions.

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “Number 5 would be different though. In 2008, 4 people werecharged with the murder of Daniel Morgan. Finally, thepolice had finally come through and there would be a trial at the Old Bailey.There would be justice at last.”

Narration:

Jonathan Rees, his brothers in lawGary and Glenn Vian, as well as a builder called James Cookwere all charged with murder.At the same time, Sid Fillery was chargedwith perverting the course of justice.There were problems with the case though.The defence was unhappy with the prosecution'suse of evidence from supergrasses – criminalsand former criminals giving evidence on old associates.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: The judge had to hear this abuse of process defence in court in order to decide whether the trial would proceed or not. The police told us they were mounting this abuse of process defence and we’ll have it out the way in about 3 weeks they said to us. In fact it lasted 20 months of hearings. It just went on and on endlessly. It was absolute torture. Over the 20 months 1 witness would be excluded then another witness would be excluded and I could just see the case collapsing.”

Narration: After 20 months, the trial collapsed.The investigations down the years had generated 750,000 documents,and led to some of the longest legal argument ever seen in an English criminal court.The judge - Mr Justice Maddison - remarked that the vastness and complexity of the casewas unusual and the crown was "principled" and "right" todrop the case. On the other hand he said that the police had been justified in pursuing the case,they'd had "ample grounds to justifythe arrest and prosecution of the defendants".

Jonathan Rees maintained his innocence throughoutand after the collapse he criticised the police's reliance on supergrassesto build their case.His statement read:"When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business.Whatever anyone may say, on 10th March 1987 I lost a friend and business partner." After more than 2 decades of struggleAlastair had felt that finallythere would be justice for his brother's murder.The collapse of the trial was yet another heart breaking setback.

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: “Getting my brother’s killers court and exposing the corruption in and around this case has been the central purpose of my life for 24 years. Everything else in my life has been secondary to that. Seeing it all crumble to dust in front of my eyes after we’d really thought we’d got them this time, but it just wasn’t to be.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

Narration: The collapse of the murder trial showed thatit would be impossible to get a murder convictionwith the evidence currently available. This could have been the end of the story - case closed -simply because too much time had passed.But something else happened in 2011 that handedthe Morgan family a lifeline.

From the top of the Metropolitan Policecame this message."This current investigation has identified, ever more clearly, how the initial inquiry failed thefamily and wider public. It is quite apparent that police corruption was a debilitatingfactor in that investigation. This was wholly unacceptable."Even though no one had been held accountable,the police were finally acknowledging the wrongdoingof officers publicly.This was a valuable admission for the Morgan family.

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective: “I think certainly it’s unusual for the police to come out with quite an explicit admission of really guilt in respect of previous investigations in terms of corrupt practice and failure to investigate that corrupt practice. It could indicate a new willingness, and openness, more transparency in getting to the bottom of this. A cynic might say that the police were put in a position where really what could they do, the evidence in many ways speaks for itself.”

Narration: The 2011 admission that corruption HADtaken place, yet gone unpunished,compelled Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to act.She announced the creation of the Daniel Morgan independent panel with the full support of the Met Police.The panel would have access to all relevant documents held by Government agencies, the police, and prosecutors.The panel was set the task of shining a light on the murder itself, and the investigations into it.The Home Secretary went as far as specifying a number of areas that the panel must address.

police involvement in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder and the failure to confront that corruption; 3 very encouraging starting points. For the Home Secretary to say that there may have been police involvement in not just the cover up, but the actual murder itself, is hugely significant.

INTERVIEW [English], Lord Smith, Alastair Morgan’s Former MP: “I think having an independent panel is a good step forward. It’s better than simply continuing the run of internal investigations. It would almost certainly have been better if it were a full judicial inquiry with power to subpoena witnesses and to ensure everything that could be unearthed was unearthed. The panel is a halfway step to that, it’s better than anything we’ve had before.”

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective: “The fact that there have been so many inquiries and investigations that are perceived to have failed, does put pressure on the new inquiry team to come up with something substantial, that will be conclusive and will not be considered to be a whitewash. They know that pressure is there. It is certainly the case that this is the best shot in 25 years that the Morgan family and the wider public have had at getting to the bottom of this case.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Michael Doherty: “What began as a murder in a South London car park has become not only a 30 year fight to bring the killer to justice, but to change the way in which the police and the state fight misconduct and criminality in their ranks. What happened here in South London has had big ramifications out there in the centres of power.”

INTERVIEW [English], Charles Shoebridge, Former Scotland Yard Detective “Surely as soon as injustice and corruption is even hinted at by evidence that Alastair Morgan and others have produced, our balances and checks in our society, in our oversight of police for example should in theory spring into action and take up the case on their behalf but that hasn’t happened in this case. It didn’t happen in the Hillsborough case. Not for decades did it happen.”

INTERVIEW [English], Lord Smith, Alastair Morgan’s Former MP: “It should not require that degree of persistence to get anywhere on a case of this kind. The fact that it has required that persistence is a bit of a condemnation of the system that we have for investigating these kinds of cases in this country at the moment.”

INTERVIEW [English], Alastair Morgan, Daniel Morgan’s Brother: We have to hold our police to account. The police force and in particular the metropolitan police force is an extremely powerful organisation and it’s there to serve us, not to serve its own ends or to serve political masters of anything like that, it’s there to serve us.”

Narration: There is no set date for the Independent panel tocomplete its report, although it may be done by the endof 2015.Police corruption in 1987 has resulted in a nearly28 year struggle for the Morgan family to not onlybring his killer to justice, but hold the stateto account for its failure to do so.This is the importance of the police dealing withcorruption in their ranks and stamping it out.No family should have to suffer like the Morgans have done.

   

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