Alastair Morgan remembers visiting his brother Daniel at his office a month before he was murdered. “He was staring out of the window, he seemed anxious. He was biting his lip – which was a habit when he was stressed. Then he mentioned a name which I can’t remember now.”
Alastair asked Daniel who it was. He replied: “He’s a bent copper. Alastair. They’re all over the place down here – all over the place.”
Alastair, who lives in Clerkenwell, is convinced that it is “bent coppers” who have prevented the conviction of his brother’s murderer – in order to cover up their own involvement in the crime.
On 10 March 1987, 25 years ago, Daniel Morgan was attacked in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, with five blows of an axe to the head. His murder meant that the 37-year-old private investigator would never see his two young children again. And five botched police investigations later, Daniel’s murderer still walks free.
A new perspective
Since the phone-hacking scandal enveloped Britain last summer and the Leveson Inquiry began, the case has been thrust back into the spotlight because of the shady relations between Daniel’s business, Southern Investigations, and the now defunct News of the World.
Earlier this month a memorial was also unveiled in a Powys churchyard – close to where the brothers’ 84-year-old mother lives – to mark the 25th anniversary of Daniel’s death.
So why has his killer still not been brought to justice? Alastair Morgan says: “My brother was a whistleblower. He was murdered and I’m absolutely certain that the police were involved.”
25 year fight for justice
Daniel Morgan set up his private investigations company in 1980 – under the name DJM Investigations – and hired Jonathan Rees as his business partner soon after. A few days before his death Daniel Morgan told an acquaintance that he was investigating police corruption. Today, his brother says: “He said that he was dealing with some serious police corruption, and that there was nobody in the Met that he could go to or he could trust.”
And it wasn’t just the police that Daniel was worried about. By the time of his death, his partnership with Rees had turned, according to his brother, “totally sour”.
Kevin Lennon, a former book-keeper at Southern Investigations, alledged at an 1988 inquest that six months before the murder Rees had told him of plans to kill Daniel: “My mates at Catford nick are going to arrange it. Those police officers are friends of mine and will either murder Danny themselves or will arrange it.”
One of Rees’ “friends” in the police was Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery, who was arrested during the last investigation in 2008 for perverting the course of justice. According to Lennon’s evidence at Daniel’s inquest, Rees explained that Fillery would replace Daniel Morgan after his death – which is more or less what happened. Alastair said: “Rees and Fillery took over his business and then the top ranks had a cut. Danny was killed in March 1987 – by early 1988 Fillery was running it.”
Alastair Morgan recalls the treatment he received by the Met Police in general, and Fillery in particular, after his brother was murdered. When he spoke to them the next day, the first thing a police officer said to him implicated him as a suspect (“And what were you doing last night, Alastair?” – those were his opening words to me”). And Fillery went so far as to call Alastair’s family and tell them to get him out of London because he was getting in the way of the investigation.
Since Daniel’s death, Southern Investigations has gained a bad reputation: Rees served a seven-year jail sentence for planting cocaine on a woman in order to discredit her in a child custody battle. Before he went to prison he was selling illegally obtained information to the News of the World for over £150,000 a year. When he was released, the then-editor, Andy Coulson, did not hesitate to re-hire him.
Alastair Morgan describes Southern Investigations as “a hub for corrupt police”. He adds: “They had a fantastic network of corrupt officials who would tell them information which they would then sell on cheaply to the News of the World.”
Rees has been arrested on suspicion of murder three times – but each time charges were dropped. Fillery and other police officers have also been arrested but later released.
The campaign continues
So what now for the Justice for Daniel campaign, to which Alastair, a translator by profession, has devoted most of the past 25 years? While the dealings of Southern Investigations have become embroiled in the current debate surrounding media ethics, Alastair Morgan thinks that the Leveson Inquiry needs to consider Southern Investigations more thoroughly. He says, “It’s all very well Leveson looking at what has happened but you need to know why and how it all started.”
Does he want to give evidence to Lord Justice Leveson? “No, I don’t want to give evidence at Leveson. We want a separate judicial inquiry into Daniel’s murder.
“The amount of material in my brother’s case is going to take months – it would sink Leveson.”
In December Alastair Morgan met Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss this possibility.
He says: “She was talking about police inquiries again and we thought no, we definitely don’t have any more confidence in the police at all. We don’t want them anywhere near this.”
Following Tom Watson’s speech to the Commons, the UK Policing Minister Nick Herbert “did not rule out” a judicial inquiry. Does this signify hope for the Justice for Daniel campaign?
Alastair Morgan is doubtful: “I’m so cynical now with the establishment. I’ve been dealing with the home office for over 20 years and they don’t care about police integrity unless it’s rammed down their throat.”
As he returns home to watch the Leveson Inquiry – which he has been transfixed by all week – Alastair Morgan says: “Daniel’s case is the worst police corruption case in the last 50 years. I’ve never heard of anything worse than this – and I’ve had to live with it”.