REVIEW — UNTOLD: THE DANIEL MORGAN MURDER EXPOSED

May 18, 2017

 

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Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed
Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes
(Blink Publishing, hardback £14.99, ebook £9.99)
Reviewed by Paddy French

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ONE OF the reasons why the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan has not been properly covered by Britain’s national media is the fact he was part-Welsh.

After nearly two decades involved in this story, I’m convinced Daniel’s Welsh background is a significant factor.

His father John — a native Welsh-speaker from Pontardawe — was wounded and captured at Arnhem in World War 2.

After the war he was commissioned a captain and posted to Singapore.

There he met Isobel and their two sons, Alastair and Daniel, were born in the British colony.

Daniel was premature and there were problems with one of his legs.

John Morgan resigned his commission to bring him back for treatment in the newly-created NHS.

The family lived for many years in Llanfrechfa near Cwmbran.

John, who had worked as a coalminer on his return from Singapore, died of emphysema at 41.

Daniel didn’t reach that age.

He was just 37 when he was axed to death in the car park of a south London pub.

The private investigator was married with two small children.

The prime suspect has always been Daniel’s business partner, Jonathan Rees.

One of the Scotland Yard detectives who investigated the murder, sergeant Sid Fillery, was kicked off the inquiry when it emerged he was a close friend of Rees.

Within a year Fillery retired — and stepped into the dead man’s shoes as Rees’ new partner.

Both were finally charged in 2008 — Rees with the murder, Fillery with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The case collapsed.

For three decades the scandal was under-reported, especially in the broadcast media.

Just compare the hours of television devoted to another south London murder — that of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

One reason for this, I’m convinced, is Daniel’s Welsh connections.

The evidence is compelling: between 1987 and 2004 the only serious television documentaries on the murder were made by the Welsh current affairs strand, Wales This Week.

England — and especially London — has always had a problem with the Welsh.

It’s hard to put your finger on what it is exactly.

Partly, it seems to be indifference — “they’re not the same as us and some of them even talk another (foreign) language” sort of attitude.

FINAL BOOK JACKET

For some, though, there’s an active dislike of the Welsh — captured in the saying: “Taffy is a Welshman, Taffy is a thief.”

By the time I joined Wales This Week in 1999, the series had already made several programmes on the murder.

I picked up the baton and went on to make several more programmes.

In 2004 I helped persuade our sister series at ITV London to carry out a joint investigation into the murder — the first time an English broadcaster had taken any interest.

I got to know — and admire — Alastair Morgan and his partner, BBC journalist Kirsteen Knight, for their relentless dedication to securing justice for Daniel.

They’re ordinary people who have dedicated their lives to a single cause at an unimaginable cost.

The results, though, have been extraordinary …

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THE BOOK published today is the fusion of two projects.

For many years Alastair has been writing a book on the saga but there never seemed to be a natural end.

For example, the independent inquiry into the murder commissioned by Theresa May in 2013 — and chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan — has yet to publish its report.

Then author, screenwriter and playwright Peter Jukes became interested in the murder as a result of his research into the hacking scandal.

Jukes had chalked up a first with his crowd-funded live-tweeting of the dramatic Old Bailey trial of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in 2014.

When he realised the prime suspect in the Daniel Morgan murder case, Jonathan Rees, was also a major player in supplying illegal information to the News of the World, he was hooked.

The result is the award-winning Untold podcast — co-produced with Deeivya Meir — which has attracted more than 4 million listeners around the world.

That success — it was iTunes Best Podcast of 2016 — persuaded Peter Jukes and Alastair Morgan that a book was timely.

The result is a forensic account of a scandal that has tarnished the reputation of Scotland Yard, added another sorry episode to the history of the Murdoch press – and shamed the establishment into action.

It reads like pulp fiction — a dark tale of bent cops, murderous criminals,
unscrupulous hacks, self-serving police chiefs and devious politicians.

But it’s all true.

In nearly 400 pages, the book charts the unfolding scandal with Alastair — and his partner Kirsteen Knight — telling the chilling story from their point of view

Peter Jukes takes up the narrative between the sections of their personal testimony.

It’s a format that works well: the style is crisp and the result is an important book about the interaction between organised crime, corrupt police and illegal journalism.

Of course, some of the story still remains untold — after thirty years of twists and turns, it’s clear there’s more to come.

One area, for example, that has never been explored is the role of freemasonry.

Rees and Fillery were masons yet virtually nothing is known about their masonic connections.

The only criticism I have of Untold is the lack of an index — it means the book cannot become the work of reference it deserves to be.

Hopefully, the updated edition promised after the report of the Daniel Morgan Inquiry Panel is published, will add one.

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NOTES
1
The sister website to Rebecca — Press Gang — has reported extensively on the murder. See the Daniel Morgan page for more information.

♦♦♦

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CORRECTIONS

Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  
If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.


WRU BIG GUNS v REBECCA TELEVISION

July 22, 2013

rebecca_6aTWO OF Welsh rugby’s most senior figures have accused Rebecca Television of defamation.

Lawyers acting for WRU chairman David Pickering and chief executive Roger Lewis claim an investigation into censorship at ITV Wales libelled them.

They say the article accuses them of acting to prevent a documentary about Pickering’s financial affairs from being broadcast back in 2006.

They demand a retraction and an unreserved apology.

Rebecca Television rejects these allegations. There will be no apology.

DAVID PICKERING The WRU chairman instructed solicitors to take action against Rebecca television.as chairman of the WRU

DAVID PICKERING
The WRU chairman has instructed solicitors to take action against Rebecca Television. Photo: PA

MORE THAN a year after it was first published, WRU officials David Pickering and Roger Lewis have finally responded to the Rebecca Television article A Licence To Censor.

Along with the WRU’s communications chief John Williams, they have instructed solicitors to take action against the website.

In a four page letter, the Cardiff law-firm Hugh James say the three men consider the entire article to be defamatory.

The article revealed that an ITV Wales This Week programme into the personal financial affairs of WRU chairman David Pickering was axed in May 2006 on the orders of then programme controller Elis Owen.

At the time Roger Lewis was ITV Wales’ managing director and John Williams was head of news.

Lewis was appointed chief executive of the WRU in September 2006.

Williams became head of communications at the Union in December 2006.

Hugh James now claim that A Licence To Censor also means “there were strong grounds to suspect that Mr Pickering caused ITV Wales to censor the channel’s planned coverage of his financial affairs …”.

Their letter also states that the investigation also means that “there were strong grounds to suspect that Mr Lewis and Mr Williams together helped to suppress the Pickering programme on a corrupt basis” partly because “each man either had obtained or hoped to obtain senior and lucrative employment with the WRU.”

“Our clients require you to withdraw these allegations and to apologise for them unreservedly …”

In his reply, sent to Hugh James today, Rebecca Television editor Paddy French rejected the claims — and declined to offer an apology.

“The article A Licence To Censor was a forceful indictment of censorship at ITV Wales in 2006,” wrote French, “but it criticised only one individual — Elis Owen.”

“And, while it condemned him for censoring a Wales This Week programme — for which I was the producer — it was quite specific about what he’d done wrong.”

“At the time I directly accused Owen of ‘noble cause corruption’ — censoring the programme for what he thought was the morally justifiable reason of protecting the commercial interests of ITV Wales.”

“There was no question that he acted to advance his own personal interests. And there was no suggestion that he acted as a result of pressure from anyone else.”

“The article also makes it clear that Roger Lewis rang Bruce Kennedy, the executive in charge of Wales This Week, to make it clear he was not interfering in the editorial process.”

ROGER LEWIS Was the Managing Director of ITV Wales when the Pickering programme was axed. There's no evidence he was involved in the decision. Photo: PA.

ROGER LEWIS
The WRU’s chief executive has also instructed solicitors to take action against Rebecca Television. Photo: PA

“It follows that, if Elis Owen acted alone and Roger Lewis took no part in the proceedings, that David Pickering can have had no say in the fate of the programme.”

“Consequently, the article cannot carry the meaning that Pickering, Lewis and Williams suggest.”

“As a result, Rebecca Television has no need to apologise to the three men.”

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DAVID PICKERING also claimed that the article defamed him by saying he was in “financial disarray”.

Rebecca Television accepts the article makes this claim but believes it is factually accurate.

Pickering had two county court judgments against him and many of the companies he was involved with had gone bust owing millions of pounds in unpaid VAT and tax.

Pickering’s lawyers also dispute that Pickering misled the media over the true state of his business activities.

They seize on one passage in A Licence To Censor.

The article contains these three paragraphs:

“Thirteen months later, in July 2005, another five companies went under with debts of nearly £5 million.”  

“This time Pickering told the Western Mail that “the great majority of the money was owed to associated companies and not third parties.”   

“This was untrue. The five companies owed £2.8 million in unpaid tax and VAT.”

This summary is misleading — and conceals a more complicated picture.

Pickering’s comment was made in May 2006 in an article about the failure of a surviving company called R & R Group to submit accounts on time.

Pickering said that although the company “had a substantial deficit, the great majority of the money owed was to associated companies, and not third parties.”

However, Pickering did not acknowledge that part of R & R Group’s problems were caused by difficulties at its subsidiaries.

Two of these R & R Group subsidiaries had gone bust in June 2004 with massive losses.

They had chalked up combined debts of nearly £3 million of which close to £1.4 million was accounted for in unpaid VAT and tax.

In July 2004, in a Western Mail article about the failure of other companies to file accounts on time, Pickering  stated: “I’m involved in eight or nine companies and all of them are up and running.”

“They are all in different cycles, but there are no problems.”

A year later five of these companies went under with debts of nearly £5 million of which unpaid tax and VAT accounted for £2.8 million.

Rebecca Television will revise this passage of A Licence To Censor to make it clearer” French wrote to Pickering’s solicitors, “but we stand by the claim that he did not give an accurate picture of his financial affairs to the media.”

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ANOTHER extraordinary claim made by lawyers acting for the three men is that the proposed 2006 Wales This Week programme was not editorially sound.

They insist “there was a consensus that it lacked interest and importance”.

The “information about Mr Pickering’s financial affairs was largely old news …” and “there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by him”.

A Licence To Censor does not accuse Pickering of any wrongdoing,” French told the lawyers, “but the claim that the information about his financial affairs was largely old news is nonsense.

“ITV’s chief news reporter Andy Collinson and the man in charge of Wales This Week, Bruce Kennedy — as well as myself — were all convinced it was a valid programme.”

“The crashes of 2004 and 2005 were not reported by national media in Wales and Andy Collinson’s discovery of the substantial county judgments was totally unknown.”

“The poor state of the remaining companies was not generally appreciated.”

The lawyers also say that John Williams now denies that he ever changed his mind about the programme.

A Licence To Censor stated that Williams, who was head of news at the time, had been persuaded by the Wales This Week analysis of Pickering’s plight:

“At the end of the presentation, John Williams — who had not been sure there was a story up to that point — said he was convinced.”
 

“He was shocked at the amount of money Pickering’s companies had lost and he was happy to run a news item on the Friday.”

In April 2012 Rebecca Television sent John Williams an outline of the article.

It included these words: “JW [John Williams] said he was convinced now: he had no idea the debts were so great …”

He did not respond to this email.

When the article was published later that month, he did not take advantage of the Rebecca Television “right of reply” and “corrections” facilities.

Again, the original article will be amended to include his denial.

The article will also be amended to take account of other points made by the three men.

They do not affect the overall thrust of the article.

Rebecca Television stands by it.

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© Rebecca Television 2013

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — we’ll correct as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

DONATIONS  If you would like to support the investigative work of this website, you can make a donation to our bank account: Rebecca Television — sort code: 40-16-15,  account number 22819236.


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