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Murdoch and the Met uncut

The Leveson media ethics inquiry, now in its fourth month, is unravelling an increasingly sinister web of corruption between the Murdoch media and the Met. It stretches from criminal elements in south east London right up to hacking the phones of politicians and the Royal Family.

Successive governments and the Metropolitan police not only failed to properly investigate phone hacking and corrupt relationships between the News of the World and Met police officers. They also failed to investigate connections to a brutal murder in London in 1987.

Daniel Morgan was joint owner with Jonathan Rees of detective agency Southern Investigations. Amongst its activities, it was a go-between for Murdoch journalists and London coppers.

Morgan was axed to death in a pub car park in Sydenham, south-east London. His family believes he was planning to expose corruption and possibly other crimes. He and Rees were together in a pub just before the murder, and notes Morgan was seen writing were missing from his torn trouser pocket.

Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery, stationed at Catford police station, was assigned to the case. It transpired he was one of the coppers on Southern Investigations' payroll. Eventually Fillery, Rees and four others were arrested on suspicion of Morgan's murder but none were ever charged. More investigations turned up more evidence, but the Crown Prosecution Service declined to prosecute.

A total of five Met police investigations failed to nail Morgan's killer, the most recent led by Detective Superintendent David Cook. Cook has said the murder was "one of the worst-kept secrets in south-east London" and that "a whole cabal of people" knew the identities of those involved.

Cook's enquiry was established with unprecedented secrecy; everyone working on it made to swear they were not freemasons. But a matter of weeks after it opened, the News of the World paid for close surveillance of DCS Cook and his wife Jacqui Hames. She told Leveson she believes "suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry were using their association with a powerful and well-resourced newspaper to intimidate us and try to attempt to subvert the investigation". The Morgan case proves corruption is not some new phenomenon.

DAC Sue Akers, now leading the Met's phone hacking enquiry, told Leveson of "multiple payments amounting to thousands of pounds" to police and other public servants. One public official received in excess of £80,000 and one journalist spent over £150,000 in cash on sources in a couple of years. But, she added, the disclosures led mostly to "salacious gossip" nothing in the public interest.

She said the Met knew in 2006 that not only members of the royal family, politicians, actors, and sportspersons were under surveillance, but apparently also "state securities" – whatever that means!

The reality is that police officers and politicians were terrified of the Murdoch press – and often greedy for its hand-outs. And it was not because they were scared of their sex lives being exposed. Sex scandals are the half-chewed 'bones' thrown to the press pack in return for not exposing real crimes.

Imagine if Murdoch journalists had used all this bribe money and all these contacts to expose the inner workings of the British State? They could have written about the lies behind the decision to invade Iraq, the background to the 'dirty dossier', the pressure put on MPs to vote for war, the death of weapons expert David Kelly. But of course, Murdoch supported Blair and the war on Iraq, so that was never going to happen.

This unravelling is exposing waves of corruption involving key elements that make up the British state – the Met Police, the tabloid press and politicians. It's not just that they all have their hands in the till – it is also that they are terrified that we, the people, might learn the truth about the worm at the very heart of our so-called democracy.

Penny Cole
A World to Win editorial collective
1 March 2012

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