As Zelo Street regulars will know, three men suspected of the murder in a South London pub car park almost 30 years ago of private detective Daniel Morgan had chosen to draw attention to themselves recently by taking action against the Metropolitan Police, alleging that officers had been so determined to get them that this pursuit was malicious. The downside of their action was that they were named in court.
So anyone who wanted to know - which, by definition, means most of the press took no notice - found that the Police case was that Jonathan Rees, Morgan’s business partner at the time, paid for the hit, and that his brother-in-law Glenn Vian wielded the axe, the head of which was discovered still embedded in Morgan’s head. The killing became known as the “HP murder” - some money paid upfront, with the rest after the hit, in instalments.
As the Guardian has reported - almost alone among the press pack - “On Friday at the high court in central London, Mr Justice Mitting ruled against Rees and his brothers-in-law, Gary Vian and Glenn Vian … Morgan was killed outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London, on 10 March 1987, aged 37. He was found with an axe embedded in his head … Rees and the Vians were tried for murder but the case collapsed in 2011”. And then comes the reason the rest of the press is keeping schtum.
“The News of the World and other media used Southern Investigations, and police suspected it was involved with corrupt officers selling information”. The now-defunct Screws had interfered in one of the investigations into the Morgan killing, while the paper was edited by the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks. There was also significant involvement from “Fake Sheikh” Mazher Mahmood.
And that is only the beginning: Police officers investigating the murder were targeted by Southern Investigations and the Screws. Phones were hacked, personal details blagged and/or improperly obtained, surveillance was mounted. Those hacking were also involved in the industrial scale hacking of leading politicians, sports stars, lawyers, TV personalities, and other celebrities. That’s what connects the Morgan case to the hacking scandal.
The use of the Dark Arts spilled over into other newspapers, most notably the Mirror titles, although the likes of Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror at the time, protested and continue to protest their innocence. But one Mirror journalist, now better-known at another paper, ordered at least one (illegal) search of the Police National Computer.
With all the information out there as a result of Rees and the Vians drawing attention to themselves, the background material available to my good friend Peter Jukes, who with Daniel Morgan’s brother Alastair, has been writing a book on the Morgan murder and the subsequent investigations, has been most useful. The book, which develops the material in the top-rated Untold Murder series of podcasts, will be published later this year.
And that will be coming out, no matter what efforts those who may or may not have something to do with the Murdoch empire put into preventing publication, commissioning the darker kind of propaganda, getting Sun hacks to aim abuse at the participants, or any other kind of organised or ad hoc harassment.
Has any of that already happened? You may wish to ask that. I couldn’t possibly comment.