In 1999 Metropolitan police chief Sir John Stevens declared, “We now realise that while we did deal with the ‘rotten apples’, the approach did not destroy the tree from which they had been picked.
“This meant that a new batch of rotten apples could grow in another season.”
It is worth taking a closer look at the investigation Stevens was talking about.
Anti-corruption cops placed a covert listening device inside the office of private investigator Jonathan Rees in 1999.
Rees had been working for Fleet Street for several years and had pulled a network of corrupt sources around him.
Detective constable Tom Kingston collected cash for himself and for a friend who was an intelligence officer protecting the royal family.
Kingston worked for the South East Regional Crime Squad. He sold Jonathan Rees a Special Branch report disclosing police knowledge of a crime gang in London.
He also sold him Police Gazette bulletins listing suspects who were wanted for arrest, and threat assessments in relation to the terrorist targets that his mate was supposed to be protecting.
Kingston ended up in prison for selling a huge quantity of amphetamines that he had stolen from a drug dealer.
Rees had other links to other corrupt officers. His business partner, Sid Fillery, was a former police officer.
Fillery was convicted in 2004 of 15 counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing indecent images.
Private investigators Duncan Hanrahan and Martin King, who worked with Rees for News International, were both jailed in relation to police corruption.
When TV presenter Jill Dando was murdered, Rees procured a police source so that he could sell live details of the investigation.
Barry George was wrongly convicted of the murder.
Rees made no secret of his criminality. He told a Daily Mirror journalist to be careful what they wrote down “because what we’re doing is illegal, isn’t it?”. He added, “I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for a criminal offence, you know.”
Despite serving a seven year sentence for attempting to pervert the course of justice, Andy Coulson rehired Rees in 2005.
Coulson was then editor of News of the World. He resigned as editor in 2007—and went on to become chief spin doctor for David Cameron.
The information commissioner raided the home of investigator Steve Whittamore. The raid found he had 13,000 requests from newspapers and magazines for information.
A newspaper would ask Whittamore for police data. Whittamore would ask John Boyall, a former News International employee.
Boyall would ask a recently retired officer called Alan King. King would obtain the information from a civilian police worker Paul Marshall.
Marshall invented phone calls from members of the public to justify accessing the police national computer.
All four pleaded guilty in 2005 to procuring confidential police data to sell to newspapers.
Daniel Morgan was found dead in a pub car park in Sydenham, south east London, with an axe in his head in 1987.
He had worked as a private detective with Jonathan Rees.
Senior News of the World employee Alex Marunchak had run a “surveillance” operation on behalf of Rees and detective Sid Fillery.
Rees and Fillery were suspected, and later cleared, of murdering Morgan.