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