HACKGATE DAY 616: Murder trail cover-up leads back to Newscorp

It’s murder being Murdoch these days

Theresa May between a rock and a hard place as Indie scoops murder and blackmail connection to Murdoch

In what Met Chief Inspector John Yates once described as “the most disgraceful episode of corrupt investigation in the history of the Metropolitan Police”, the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan has remained unsolved since 1987. But this morning it takes a dramatic new turn as The Independent reveals what many have suspected for years: that the cover-up involves a link to Hackgate.

The now defunct News of the World hired Daniel Morgan’s company Southern Investigations to spy on a former Metropolitan police commissioner: Lord Stevens, who led Scotland Yard between 2000 and 2005. But as it happens, Scotland Yard had an undercover officer – Derek Haslam – inside Southern Investigations….who warned police that the firm was also trying to obtain other embarrassing information on the former Commissioner. As well as selling the story to the News of the World, Haslam claims Southern Investigations also wanted to use the sensitive information to “control” Lord Stevens.

During his nine years as a police “mole”, Haslam claims he told the Yard the firm was committing a vast array of crimes – often on behalf of the News of the World.

Given the widespread criminality he was reporting back to his handlers, Haslam was astonished and confused when no-one was arrested. However, his suspicions were raised last July when the relationship between the Murdoch media empire, Scotland Yard and senior politicians came under intense scrutiny – after it emerged that the News of the World hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, 13.

Indeed, one of Southern Investigations main clients was former News of the World executive editor Alex Marunchak whose name was “constantly mentioned” inside the firm, Haslam claims in a report leaked to the Indie. But the paper’s revelations about motive represent a potential political earthquake at Westminster – and possibly the end of the road for Newscorp:

‘[Haslam] claims he told the Met that Southern Investigations was “a corrupt organisation that was corrupting police officers and illegally accessing all sorts of confidential information”. He added: “I told my handlers that MPs, ministers and Home Secretaries were targets. They fell into two categories, one they could earn money from and the other was to use blackmail, influence, to do their own thing. Anything that put the Met in a bad light, or anybody they could infiltrate or put in a bad light. It was about money and influence.”’

Some of the names they allegedly set out to influence go right to the heart of Government: Haslam alleges Marunchak paid Southern Investigations to source confidential information from corrupt serving officers on celebrities and high-profile police chiefs, that reportedly included Tony Blair, Kate Middleton, Alastair Campbell, Jack Straw, Lord Mandelson, Lord Stevens, and John Yates.

But the current Home Secretary Theresa May is now put on the spot bigtime. Media sources suggested to The Slog yesterday that May and several Cabinet colleagues are minded to have a full judicial enquiry into the cover-up surrounding the Morgan murder; but Southern Investigations’ ‘corrupt’ relationships with senior Met police officers are also now seen to encompass the ever-present tentacles of Newscorp. I understand that David Cameron has yet to approve the enquiry.

Twelve days ago, The Slog ran a three-part investigation suggesting the possibility of a link between surveillance cameras at celeb haunt The Grouch Club in London’s Soho, and Newscorp’s seemingly universal knowledge about celebrity drug taking. New Health Minister Jeremy Hunt’s office is bankrolled on a regular basis by the Chairman of the Groucho, John Henry James Lewis.

Questions were raised throughout the Newscorp bid for BSkyB about the closeness between Hunt and the media giant. In turn, several senior media commentators declared themselves to be “baffled” not just by the Prime Minister’s staunch defence of Hunt, but also his bizarre decision the week before last to promote Mr Hunt to the Health portfolio.

However, these new allegations of cover-up and blackmail in a murder case take the Hackgate saga down to potentially new depths of political corruption, and media influence on the decisions of Ministers of the Crown. And the focus on it won’t be helped by former Newscorp hack and Number Ten communications adviser Andy Coulson appearing in Court later this week.

Stay tuned, this will get messier before it’s cleaned up: the issue of where sovereignty really lies in the UK is increasingly one that neither the Conservative nor Labour Parties can dodge.

Also at The Slog today: Murdoch drum-majorette Jeremy Hunt revealed as the employer from Hell