Leveson Inquiry: NOTW accused over murder suspects

 

Former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames suggested today that the News of the World placed her under surveillance because of the paper's links to suspects in a notorious murder case.

She rejected as "absolutely pathetic" ex-News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks's claim that the paper was investigating whether she was having an affair with detective chief superintendent Dave Cook, who was actually her husband.

Ms Hames, herself a former Scotland Yard detective, fought back tears as she told the Leveson Inquiry of the damaging effect that being followed by private investigators had on her and her marriage.

The News of the World placed the couple under surveillance after Mr Cook made an appeal on Crimewatch in June 2002 for information about the 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan, the inquiry into press standards heard.

Ms Hames alleged that Mr Morgan's firm Southern Investigations, whose members included suspects in the killing, had "close links" to senior News of the World news editor Alex Marunchak.

She said in a statement to the inquiry: "I believe that the real reason for the News of the World placing us under surveillance was that suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry were using their association with a powerful and well-resourced newspaper to try to intimidate us and so attempt to subvert the investigation.

"These events left me distressed, anxious and needing counselling, and contributed to the breakdown of my marriage to David in 2010.

"Given the impact of these events, I would like to know why the police did not investigate why we came to be placed under surveillance by a newspaper like this."

Dick Fedorcio, the Metropolitan Police's director of public affairs, asked Ms Brooks to explain why Ms Hames and Mr Cook were placed under surveillance.

The then-News of the World editor said the paper was investigating suspicions they were having an affair, and repeated this explanation at a meeting in 2003.

Ms Hames said in her statement: "This was utterly nonsensical as we had by then been married for four years, had been together for 11 years and had two children.

"Our marriage was common knowledge to the extent that we had even appeared together in Hello! magazine."

Referring to the efforts to find out information about her and her ex-husband, she added: "I think any reasonable person would find it difficult not to put them together and feel that in some way there was some collusion between people at the News of the World and the people who were suspected of committing the murder of Daniel Morgan."

In May 2011 Scotland Yard officers informed Ms Hames that her details had been found in the notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working for the News of the World who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.

The information included her payroll and police warrant numbers, her home address and mobile phone number, and notes about Mr Cook.

Ms Hames said Mulcaire's notes were dated July 3 2002, about a week before the News of the World placed her and her husband under surveillance.

"This demonstrates to me that the News of the World knew full well that I was married to David at the time of the surveillance and thus gives the lie to their explanation for it," she said in her statement.

"This information could only have come from one place: my MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) file. I was horrified by the realisation that someone within the MPS had supplied information from my personnel file to Mr Mulcaire, and probably for money.

"Similarly distressing was the realisation that the MPS had known about these entries in Mr Mulcaire's notebooks since 2006 but had chosen neither to inform me nor to investigate it adequately."

She added that she was serving in a covert intelligence unit on a "highly-sensitive" inquiry about airport security at the time the information about her was leaked to Mulcaire.

She said: "I have always been loyal to the MPS, but I do feel very let down by this failure to inform or protect me from the unlawful actions of the press."

Mr Morgan, 37, who was originally from Monmouthshire, was found with an axe in his head in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London, on March 10 1987.

The case against three men accused of killing him collapsed last March.

Mr Cook was arrested last month over alleged illegal leaks to a journalist as part of Scotland Yard's investigation into corruption of public officials, known as Operation Elveden. He was later bailed and has not been charged.

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry last July in response to claims that the News of the World hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone after she disappeared in 2002.

The first part of the inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general and is due to produce a report by September.

The second part, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will not begin until detectives have completed their investigation into alleged phone hacking and corrupt payments to police, and any prosecutions have been concluded.

The inquiry was adjourned until tomorrow, when it will hear evidence from three Scotland Yard officers involved in the original phone-hacking inquiry in 2006.

PA

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