* Mahmood was very close to the Morgan murder suspects for over a decade
* Rebekah Brooks was close to Mahmood and should have known
* Senior Met Officers ignored constant intelligence about both and aided News of the World
The conviction of Mazher Mahmood last week on three counts of perverting the course of justice at the Old Bailey allows us – after two years of silence because of contempt laws – to reveal evidence that the ‘Fake Sheikh’was the key link between Murdoch’s top management, Senior Police and the criminal underworld of Southern Investigations.
Mazher Mahmood lies to Leveson
Mahmood: “I’ve got bent police officers that are witnesses, that are informants… I’ve got some senior officers in Britain who are also my informants”
Testifying at Leveson Inquiry into the ethics and culture of the press four years ago, Mazher Mahmood – one of the few reporters to have survived closure of News of the World – claimed he worked with Jonathan Rees and Sidney Fillery at Southern Investigations for only two years in 1991/1992, after he joined the world’s best selling English language tabloid from the Sunday Times.
Mahmood had to admit this much because he boasted in the opening chapters of his book, Confessions of a Fake Sheikh, how he joined the corrupt private detective agency and crime editor Alex Marunchak bugging the apartment where Culture Minister, David Mellor, was having an affair with an actress.
Now a convicted criminal himself, Mazher Mahmood was schooled for over a decade in the dark arts under the tutelage of Fillery and Rees.
But there is ample evidence the close relationship with Rees and Fillery continued for at least another decade. Some snapshots…
1. Fillery acted as an ‘extra’ in several of Mazher Mahmood’s celebrated stings, including the entrapment of London’s Burning star John Alford at the Savoy in 1997, and an attempted sting against a friend of the Prince of Wales at the Dorchester around the same time.
2. In just one month’s sample of Southern Investigations’ invoice, in May 1997, Rees and Fillery billed the News of the World for at least five stories with Mahmood
3. In 1998 Mahmood was spotted in the Victory, a pub in Thornton Heath and Rees and Fillery’s alternative office. There he was reported to have met a plain clothes police officer selling a story about livestock being used for a marriage dowry.
4. Fillery and Rees provided support for Mahmood on a trip to France and Belgium in July 1999 on a News of the World story about illegal immigrants.
5. In 1999, Southern Investigations provided security for two trials of victims of Mahmood’s stings, which he had to attend as a witness.
(Extraordinarily both of Maz’s ‘bodyguards’ were well known underworld figures, including Gary Vian, one of the five suspects in the Daniel Morgan Murder and later sentenced to 14 years for drug smuggling.)
6. Surveillance tapes in 1999 show Rees investigating various stories for ‘Maz’ including Kenneth Noye.
7. When Fillery rang Alex Marunchak allegedly to ‘sort out’ DCS Dave Cook before his Crimewatch appearance on the fourth murder investigation in June 2002, one of the vans conducting surveillance on the Cook family was leased by Bradley Page, Mahmood’s in house photographer.
Extraordinarily, both of Maz’s ‘bodyguards’ were well known underworld figures, including… one of the five suspects in the Daniel Morgan Murder.
Mazher Mahmood could not fail to be aware the criminal reputation of Southern Investigations in 1991
Not only had Rees and Fillery been arrested on suspicion of Daniel’s murder four years earlier, the coroner’s inquest in 1988, which had outlined the murder plot between them, had made national headlines.
By 1991 Southern Investigations were thought by police to have been involved in attempting to expose an undercover police officer about to give evidence against a key South London gangster, Joey Pyle, and nobble the jurors. The first trial had to be abandoned.
By 1999 a six month probe into the private detective agency – Operation Nigeria/Two Bridges – revealed extensive criminality and corruption, including at least thirty crimes involving journalists.
Now a convicted criminal himself, it appears Mazher Mahmood was schooled for over a decade in the dark arts under the tutelage of Fillery and Rees.
Rebekah Brooks and Mazher Mahmood
Rebekah Brooks joined News of the World just a couple of years before Mahmood, and they both worked together there till the late 90s
Spotted early on by Les Hinton and Rupert Murdoch as a ‘high flyer’ Brooks moved rapidly though the editorial hierarchy at the Sunday tabloid. She was briefly moved to the Sun before returning to become the youngest ever editor of the News of the Worldin Spring 2000.
Why would Brooks want to deceive parliament about Jonathan Rees? Is the connection even more toxic for the reputation of her company than the Milly Dowler scandal?
Oddly Brooks took over just a the point that the paper’s main provider of illegally sourced stories, Southern Investigations, was partially shut down. Jonathan Rees was arrested in early 2000 for perverting the course of justice, for which he received a seven year jail sentence.
But by her own account at the phone hacking trial in 2014, Brooks was a good friend of Mazher Mahmood’s. (These tweets below are contemporaneous reports from the trial).