The Daniel Morgan Murder: Why Murdoch Should Not Pass Ofcom’s Fit and Proper Test
On the 5th May this year I wrote to Ofcom to object to the proposed 100% takoever of Britain’s most lucrative broadcaster by 21st Century Fox.
There are many other principled objections, but the involvement of both the newspaper and broadcasting arms of Rupert Murdoch’s UK companies in the nexus of corrupt police and organised crime involved in the Daniel Morgan murder and its aftermath is one of the most troubling and nefarious.
Since Ofcom have already passed on their report to the Secretary of State, I’m publishing my letter here in full and have provided more detail on these allegations in a follow up post.
If you want to object to the proposed takeover, you can still email Karen Bradley here.
RE: Proposed Acquisition of Sky Plc By Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.
Ofcom’s fit and proper duty
To whom it may concern
Enclosed is a pdf copy of my forthcoming book Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed co-written with Alastair Morgan, and due to be published on 18th May. I am sending it to you because it contains material evidence for your investigation into the proposed Fox/Sky bid.
I understand you are looking at the corporate governance as part of considering the deal regarding Broadcasting Standards. This book presents new evidence to show that Rupert Murdoch and some of his key staff and corporate officers.
a) Knowingly employed members of the London criminal underworld and corrupt police officers over two decades.
b) Turned a blind eye to evidence that executives were perverting the course of justice in a murder investigation.
c) Misled the CMS select committee over their knowledge and involvement in these matters.
The book stretches back to Daniel Morgan’s death in 1987, but the focus is on the several investigations and the corrupt relationship between Daniel’s murderers, people inside the police investigation and members of the media, notably senior figures at News Corp.
The book outlines how two murder suspects, Jonathan Rees and Sidney Fillery, who ran south London detective agency, Southern Investigations, became long term employees of News of the World and propagated the illegal dark arts of bugging, blagging, hacking and bribing police officers.
Two new witnesses, former PC Richard Zdrojewski and Andrew Docherty, reveal that the News of the World was procuring information from the Police National Computer and commissioning ‘Computer John’ (John Gunning, convicted in 2006) for access to computer databases as early as 1990.
Around this time Southern Investigations also pioneered the Tabloid sting with Mazher Mahmood, who worked for the Sunday Times, News of the World and Sun on Sunday until his conviction for perverting the course of justice in 2016
Despite his Leveson evidence, Mahmood continued working with Rees and Fillery until Rees was arrested in 1999.
When Rebekah Brooks took over editorship of News of the World after Rees’ indictment in 2000 she started her new special investigations team with Thurlbeck, Mahmood, Miskiw (and through Miskiw – Glenn Mulcaire). Just before this Brooks met the new Metropolitan Police commissioner John Stevens with Alex Marunchak, even though Marunchak was top of a CIB list of journalists requiring more investigation for criminal offences, followed by Gary Jones and Mazher Mahmood.
In 2002, along with Greg Miskiw, Glenn Mulcaire and Alex Marunchak, members of Mazher Mahmood’s team attempted to subvert the fourth Daniel Morgan Murder investigation through targeted surveillance, phone and email hacking and blagging.
At the CMS select committee in 2011, Rebekah Brooks claimed never to have heard of Jonathan Rees until that year. However, the book establishes that her lawyer Tom Crone met Rees before his sentencing, and Ms Brooks was shown clear evidence of Rees’ involvement with Alex Marunchak in January 2003. NI corporate records indicate she consulted with managing editor Stuart Kuttner.
Despite these records, and other public revelations about his long-term employment of Rees and Fillery, Alex Marunchak remained executive editor of the Irish edition of News of the World. Andy Coulson reemployed Rees after he was released after serving 5 years in prison for perverting the course of justice in 2005.
Beyond the clear knowledge of senior NGN executives of criminality around Southern Investigations and News of the World: there is also evidence that collusion or at least willful blindness and coverup reached a higher level of senior News Corp staff, including the Murdoch family.
There are three direct connections to the senior echelons and News Corp, and the criminal nexus around Southern Investigations.
a) Mazher Mahmood, a friend of Rebekah Brooks, was also allegedly in contact with Rupert and James Murdoch
b) Alex Marunchak, a senior executive at the bestselling News of the World for 25 years.
c) Ray Adams, a ‘corrupt’ officer according the The Sun who, as Head of European security for NDS from 1996-2002 reported directly to the chair of News Corp in New York.
Finally, we believe the evidence shows that the decision to close News of the World was actually based on the Daniel Morgan revelations, which makes it particularly important for Ofcom to fully understand this complex history.
Rupert Murdoch said he could not remember his senior editor Alex Marunchak when quizzed by Tom Watson MP at the CMS select committee in 2011. But new evidence demonstrates direct contact between Murdoch and Marunchak.
As she addressed her staff after the announcement of the closure of the News of the World in July 2011, News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks indicated there was worse to come which would explain the need to shut down the paper. Neither she, nor any executive have ever explained what this was.
It is now known that the decision to close the paper was taken in March 2011, just as the prosecution of the Daniel Morgan murder case collapsed, and three months before the Milly Dowler scandal. Further corroboration of this exists in the new revelation that News of the World lawyer Tom Crone met with Alex Marunchak and Alec Leighton that spring.
As Alastair Morgan explains, Rupert Murdoch’s organizations took the main suspects in his brother’s murder under their wing, allowing criminality and corruption to flourish over a period of 25 years. Since neither News Corp nor 21st Century Fox have ever explained these key chapters in their corporate history, they cannot be ‘fit and proper’ within the meaning of the act.
You can catch up with the whole story of Britain’s most investigated murder and the involvement of the British press with the Untold Murder podcast. A new episode is out on Thursday 29th June.
Meanwhile Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed is available at good book shops and online.