Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Thoughts on Leveson and events in 1998

Next week Leveson will be hearing witnesses. Of these, I will be particularly interested in hearing Steven Nott, Ian Hurst and Jacqui Hames.

Steven is the guy who accidentally discovered how to hack voicemails, warned the police, customs, MI5 and the newspapers, but was completely ignored by all of them for years. Ian Hurst is the former army intelligence officer whose computer was hacked for NoW and Jacqui Hames is the wife of David Cook, the officer in charge of the fourth and fifth investigations into Daniel's murder.

In June 2002, Jacqui Hames and David Cook took part in a Crimewatch appeal for witnesses that could help solve Daniel's murder. The police were particularly interested in a woman who came forward after the first Crimewatch appeal in May 1987. The woman had told police that she'd overheard a group of men in a pub, The Harp in West Croydon, plotting to murder Daniel. She'd told police at the time that these men were involved in dealing cocaine. She gave police her first name and then disappeared. David Cook was very interested in speaking to her again because what she said supported what police had found out in the intervening years. She never came forward however.

A short time after the Crimewatch appeal, David Cook noticed a white van parked in an odd place close to his home. He later saw the same van following him as he was taking his children to school and nursery school. His wife was also photographed while she was at home. Understandably, this was a matter of concern to them. Jacqui Hames found the experience particularly frightening as her colleague Jill Dando had been murdered only a couple of years before.

Police investigations uncovered the fact that the white van had been hired by The News of The World and its occupants were employees of the paper.

David Cook was mindful that the third investigation into Daniel's murder had allegedly been derailed by the discovery of an ongoing crime carried out by Jonathan Rees and a number of associates including a serving police officer, DC Austin Warnes. This involved the planting of cocaine on an innocent woman. David Cook continued with the investigation into Daniel's murder despite this unwarranted intrusion by NoW. In January 2003 however, he raised the matter at a meeting at Scotland Yard. Attending the meeting were Rebekah Brooks, Cdr Andre Baker and Dick Fedorcio. Cook was given the explanation by Brooks that the journalists involved believed he was having an affair with Hames - although they were married and had two children together. Their wedding had even been publicised in a national magazine!

The fact is that one of the suspects targeted by the murder investigation, Jonathan Rees and had been employed by NoW for years in the illegal gathering of information
The instigator of the surveillance/harassment of David Cook and his wife was allegedly Alex Marunchak, one of Rees's best customers in his illicit trade in stolen information.

Jacqui Hames was a former Met detective and it emerged that details of her service history had also been illegally accessed and passed on. An attempt had also been made to locate David Cook's address by a blagger who had telephoned Surrey Police where he had previously been a senior detective. The information on Hames had certainly been obtained from within the Met, suggesting that there were persons inside the force who did not want the Daniel Morgan murder to be solved.

Select Committee hearing
My family only obtained the full details of this incident after the collapse of the prosecution on March 11th this year. We also learned then of the meeting at Scotland Yard and the laughable explanation offered by Rebekah Brook for this incident. Brooks was questioned by a select committee about it and apparently suffered an almost complete loss of memory. Regretably, the committee who questioned Dick Fedorcio, who was also present, failed to ask him about the meeting, much to our disappointment as a golden opportunity to expose Brooks was lost.

Eerie similarities
As we learned details of this incident, we recalled a series of events in 1998. These took place very shortly after a civil action by a man whom Hampshire Police had wrongfully charged with my brother's murder in 1989. The man, Paul Goodridge, whom I'd long believed had nothing to do with Daniel's murder, won an admission from Hampshire police that he had been arrested and charged "without probable cause". This gave new impetus to our campaign for justice and I was quoted by Duncan Campbell of the Guardian saying "the police have not heard the end of this". I also instigated an article in a Hampshire newspaper calling for the then chief constable's resignation over the fiasco.

At this time, I was living in Glasgow where my partner Kirsteen was studying radio journalism. One evening, returning to our flat with some shopping, I noticed two smartly dressed men loitering on a street corner from where they could see me and the door to our flat. They seemed incongruous, but I paid little attention to them. When I saw two smartly dressed men in the same odd place the following day, I became suspicious and telephoned my mother in Wales to tell her I belived I was being watched. What she told me filled me with alarm. She said that the previous day she had returned home from walking her dog and was opening her front door when she heard a clicking sound behind her. She turned and saw a woman holding a camera and taking pictures of her from a distance of about ten feet. The woman quickly got into a smart saloon car driven by a man and sped away. The garden wall obscured the car's number plate.
My mother then called my sister Jane, who lived in Germany. Jane reported to her that one the same day she had driven to her local supermarket for a weekly shop. She lived on a small farm in a relatively sparsely populated area. Only a short distance from her drive, she spotted a small Honda van parked in an odd place with fields on either side of the road. As she approached the van, she saw a man standing close to it with a camera and telephoto lens pointing at her.

I have to admit that I was scared by these events. So scared that I took my partner to a hotel in nearby Helensburgh to stay overnight. My sister's husband was an army officer, so she didn't feel threatened and my mother refused point blank to leave her home. I reported the incident to the police in Scotland, Wales and Germany. I believed for years afterwards that the police lay behind this and that they were trying to intimidate us. Having found out what happened to David Cook, I now suspect strongly that NoW were behind this. In fact, I would bet my shirt on it.

I also reported this to my MP in London when we returned. I now have his assistant's handwritten notes of my report. My sister detailed these events in a statement to police in 2002.

I have raised these events recently with the Met and have been told that Sue Akers is "considering" what to do about them.


  1. I don't know how you and your family have managed all of these years to cope with the worry and threat of journalists watching you and spying on your every moment in life. Finding out you were all being 'tailed' and snooped upon must have felt like being constantly attacked from every angle and no way to get out of it or to escape. There are thousands and thousands of people out here who are with you all the way. You know yourself you have the support of a lot of people. The filth who are responsible for doing this to you and your family must be brought to justice. I hope that Sue Akers can help. Have faith, I think we've seen a turning point recently. The day a Judicial Inquiry is started into Daniels death will be the day we all wait for. I wish you all the luck I can offer.

  2. I too wonder how awful it must have been to suffer the fear that such stalking by News of the World must have caused on top of the trauma you and your family have lived for so many years now. Murdoch and Co have a great deal to answer for. It clearly goes beyond just a need to get news stories by whatever means.

    I feel the current government are seeking justice for victims of serious crime including your brother and Madeleine McCann. It may take yet more years but I think Sue Akers is a great person to have in charge and will try to right some of the wrongs at the Met Police who have so badly failed to date.

    I know it is easy for those of us not personally involved to say keep the faith but can see you are certainly not giving up. That is the way to get justice even if it is such a long struggle, we are all with you every step of the way. Any further signs of coverup, well there are a lot of people on twitter etc who can embarrass the government.

  3. Hurst was never an officer with the Intelligence Corps, merely a Staff Sgt who lied about Scappaticci.