Crimewatch presenter to put pressure on Brooks
Leveson Inquiry to ask why News of the World put murder detective under surveillance
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Friday 04 November 2011
The surveillance and phone hacking of a senior murder detective by the News of the World will be examined by the Leveson Inquiry.
In 2002, the tabloid targeted the Scotland Yard detective David Cook as police began a fresh investigation into the 1987 murder of the private investigator Daniel Morgan, who was found dead in a pub car park with an axe in his head.
Lord Justice Leveson announced yesterday that he will take evidence about the case, naming Det Ch Supt Cook's wife, Jacqui Hames, who is a former police sergeant and co-presenter of BBC's Crimewatch, as a core participant. Ms Hames holds the potential to cause severe embarrassment to the Met and Rupert Murdoch's media group.
In 2002, Det Ch Supt Cook appeared on the programme to announce a new inquiry into Morgan's death. Unsolved for 24 years, the killing of Daniel Morgan has become one of Britain's longest-running murder investigations. The case collapsed for the fifth time earlier this year.
Following the Crimewatch appeal, Det Ch Supt Cook noticed two white vans parked outside his London home. The officer knew he was being watched, but not who was watching. He contacted the Met's own surveillance unit and a team was dispatched.
When the two white vans were stopped, police discovered they had been leased to Alex Marunchak, a senior news executive at the News of the World. Det Ch Supt Cook's murder investigation – the main suspect of which was a private detective used by NOTW, Jonathan Rees – was never mentioned by the tabloid when it was later asked to explain its surveillance. Instead the paper said it suspected Ms Hames and Mr Cook were having an affair, despite the fact they had been married for four years, had children, and had their wedding pictures in a magazine.
In December 2002,the then editor of the NOTW, Rebekah Brooks, was called to Scotland Yard for a meeting with Ms Hames, Det Ch Supt Cook and the Met's media chief, Dick Fedorcio. Other senior Met officers were also present.
No Met investigation into the tabloid's surveillance operation was held. In 2006 when the name "Hames" and details from her internal Scotland Yard file were found in the private notebooks of the NOTW private detective Glenn Mulcaire, there was again no follow-up investigation by the Met.
In April this year, Ms Hames was finally shown the evidence in Mulcaire's file by officers from Operation Weeting, the Met unit investigating phone hacking. She believes details from her confidential personnel records were sold to the NOTW through Mulcaire.
Ms Hames and her husband – now both retired from the Met – are jointly involved in civil claims against Mulcaire and NI.
Meanwhile, the Met announced the number of likely victims of phone hacking by the News of the World has risen to 5,795. The figure has gone up as the Met continues to go through Mulcaire's notebooks. In July this year, Operation Weeting had estimated the "industrial-scale" hacking at the NOTW affected around 4,000 victims. The Met reaffirmed that the new figure is likely to rise again as its investigations continue.
Who's watching who: Daniel Morgan murder
The former executive editor of the News of the World and its head of investigations is alleged to have ordered the surveillance on Detective Superintendent Dave Cook. Mr Marunchak was linked to Southern Investigations, run by acquitted murder suspect Jonathan Rees. Between 1998 and 1999, Southern Investigations invoiced the NOTW 66 times for a total of £13,000. All but one of the invoices was addressed to Mr Marunchak.
The former chief executive of News International was editing the NOTW in December 2002 when she was called to a meeting at Scotland Yard and challenged by Det Supt Cook about the surveillance. Ms Brooks admitted the surveillance had taken place but insisted the newspaper was investigating an affair between the detective and Crimewatch presenter and police officer Jacqui Hames. The couple were long married and had children. No action was taken by the paper against Mr Marunchak.
The co-founder of Southern Investigations who was a suspect in the murder of his business partner, Daniel Morgan. Det Supt Cook was in charge of a fresh Scotland Yard investigation into Mr Morgan's murder in a south London pub car park in 1987. Mr Rees, who has a conviction for conspiring to frame a woman by planting drugs in her car, was cleared of the murder in March this year along with two others.
Det Supt Cook appeared on BBC1's Crimewatch in June 2002 and appealed for new information in the Morgan murder. Shortly afterwards, he noticed he was being watched by men in a van as he walked his dog. Officers were called and found the vehicle was leased to the NOTW and driven by one of its photographers.
The police officer wife of Det Supt Cook, Hames was a co-presenter of Crimewatch. The couple have two children and their wedding was in a celebrity magazine. The NOTW claimed its surveillance of their home was to assess claims they were having an affair.
The head of press at Scotland Yard, Mr Fedorcio was at the meeting with Ms Brooks. He is on leave pending the results of an investigation into his conduct over employing former NOTW deputy editor, Neil Wallis.
Mr Morgan was found in Sydenham, south London, with an axe in his head. Despite five separate investigations, no one has been convicted of his murder.
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