Sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight. 

Cited in Joe Public’s stunning collation of evidence of police collusion in News of the World’s various crimes published last night on Bellingcat is some detail from a Nick Davies article from July 2011.

At this point in 2002, Dave Cook was the public face of a covert fourth investigation into the prime suspects in the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan. 

“A Guardian investigation suggests that surveillance of Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook involved the News of the World physically following him and his young children, “blagging” his personal details from police databases, attempting to access his voicemail and that of his wife, and possibly sending a “Trojan horse” email in an attempt to steal information from his computer.

The targeting of Cook began following his appearance on BBC Crimewatch on 26 June 2002, when he appealed for information to solve the murder of Morgan, who had been found  dead in south London 15 years earlier. Rees and Fillery were among the suspects. The following day, Cook was warned by the Yard that they had picked up intelligence that Fillery had been in touch with Marunchak and that Marunchak agreed to “sort Cook out”.

A few days later, Cook was contacted by Surrey police, where he had worked as a senior detective from 1996 to 2001, and was told that somebody claiming to work for the Inland Revenue had contacted their finance department, asking for Cook’s home address so that they could send him a cheque with a tax refund. The finance department had been suspicious and refused to give out the information.

It is now known that at that time, the News of the World’s investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, succeeded in obtaining Cook’s home address, his internal payroll number at the Metropolitan police, his date of birth and figures for the amount that he and his wife were paying for their mortgage. All of this appears to have been blagged by Mulcaire from confidential databases, apparently including the Met’s own records.”

Let that sink in for a moment. We now know that Mulcaire was regularly hacking senior police officers and politicians and aides, including the deputy Prime Minister, two Home Secretaries (in charge of counter terrorism and policing) and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. 

But here was News of the World surveilling and hacking a senior police officer in the midst of murder investigation. It’s hard to think of a more seriious potential perversion of the course of justice. And when confronted by this – how did the News of the World explain itself?

According to Rebekah Brooks at the Leveson Inquiry and Alex Marunchak in Press Gazette, the News of the World were merely interested in a potential affair between two police officers, one of them, Jacqui Hames, a high-profile presenter of Crimewatch. 

Yet, since both Hames and Cook shared bank accounts and address, Mulcaire’s inquiries must have immediately proved they had been married for years, and lived togther with their two children.

Even the most cursory glance explodes the myth of the Cook/Hames affair. And yet the surveillance, partly conducted by Mazher Mahmood’s photographer Bradley Page, went ahead – causing great consternation to Cook and Hames, the latter still traumatised after the murder of her friend and fellow Crimewatch preseenter Jiill Dando three years before.

The official excuses for one of the most blatant and egregious attempts to disrupt the Daniel Morgan Inquiry by News of the World do not stand up.

So the question is: what was the real motive for the surveillance. Why did Alex Marunchak care so much about the investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that, according to some witnesses at the time, Daniel Morgan was intent on blowing the whistle on police corruption in 1987, and went to the press – according to some the News of the World – days before he was killed and silenced forever?