Fraudster squad | World news | The Guardian
Internal documents from an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s elite anti-corruption squad provide a remarkable insight into the murky world of some private detectives and their relations with police and tabloid newspaper journalists. The purpose of the huge CIB3 bugging and surveillance operation – codenamed Nigeria – was two-fold: to pursue the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan, a private detective killed in 1987, and to gather evidence about continued allegations that his detective agency was involved with corrupt police officers and former detectives who supplied confidential information and did other favours.
One of CIB’s principal targets was Jonathon Rees, Morgan’s former partner who continued to run Southern Investigations after the murder. With the backing of the Met’s then commissioner, Sir (now Lord) Paul Condon, warrants were obtained for the planting of listening devices in Southern’s offices in Thornton Heath, south west London. CIB officers were warned not to leave the tiniest sign that anyone had been inside the premises, let alone planted a bug. “They are alert, cunning and devious individuals who have current knowledge of investigative methods and techniques which may be used against them,” said an internal report. “Such is their level of access to individuals within the police, through professional and social contacts, that the threat of compromise to any conventional investigation against them is constant and very real.”
Rees and others whose conversations were picked up during the police bugging operation at the offices were given pseudonyms – the names of rivers – in the transcripts of the recordings. Rees was referred to as Avon.
By early 1999, the various bugging devices were clearly working well. Visitors to the premises had asked Rees to obtain blank police charge sheets; he had agreed to pervert the course of justice over a theft; and he was waiting for police contacts to give him information about the desecration of the street memorial to the murdered black teenager, Stephen Lawrence.
“Rees and [others] have for a number of years been involved in the long-term penetration of police intelligence sources,” one progress report stated. “They have ensured that they have live sources within the Metropolitan Police Service and have sought to recruit sources within other police forces. Their thirst for knowledge is driven by profit to be accrued from the media…”
Examples of those media contacts were revealed over the following few weeks. In April, Rees was heard expressing concern over CIB’s arrest of a long-time associate, ex-Detective Constable Duncan Hanrahan, who ran his own private investigation company, Hanrahan Associates, with another former DC, Martin King, who was later jailed for corruption. Although Hanrahan had turned supergrass, giving information about others, including King and Rees, he was jailed for nine years after confessing to a string of corruption and conspiracy charges, including his involvement in a plan to rob a courier bringing £1m in cash through Heathrow airport.