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Met ordered to pay £414,000 over malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office


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High Court rules on damages claim in 'discontinued' 2008 murder prosecution.

Met ordered to pay £414,000 over malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office

 

Date - 1st August 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
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Three murder suspects have been awarded nearly half a million pounds in damages after winning a malicious prosecution action against the Met Police.

A High Court judge in London ruled Jonathan Rees and Glenn Vian should each receive £155,000, and Garry Vian should get £104,000 – a total of £414,000.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb announced the sums after Court of Appeal findings in the men's favour relating to malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

The three, who were charged with murder in 2008 following the investigation into an alleged contract killing in a pub car park, originally lost their damages claim in the High Court, but won an appeal last year.

They were prosecuted after private investigator Daniel Morgan was found murdered in a car park at the Golden Lion in Sydenham, south-east London, in March 1987.

Mr Morgan was struck four or five blows to the head with an axe, which was left embedded in his face.

The men were arrested and charged in April 2008 but, in March 2011, proceedings were discontinued and not guilty verdicts entered.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb's award included a sum to "highlight and condemn the egregious and shameful behaviour of a senior and experienced police officer",

Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, who oversaw the investigation at the relevant time.

She said: "That the case is of public importance can hardly be doubted. In 2013 the home secretary set up an independent panel into the murder of Daniel Morgan.

"The panel has not yet reported but its terms of reference include addressing 'the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption'."

The evidence of a man called Gary Eaton, which was a major plank of the Crown case, had been excluded from the prospective trial because the officer was found to have compromised Mr Eaton's 2006 debriefing.

At the High Court in 2017, Mr Justice Mitting said Det Chief Supt Cook had done an act "which tended to pervert the course of justice" but his motive was to bring those he believed to be complicit in the murder to justice.

Allowing the men's subsequent appeal from the High Court ruling, Lord Justice McCombe, sitting with two other leading judges, said DCS Cook was undoubtedly a "prosecutor" who acted maliciously.

"He knowingly put before the decision-maker a case which he knew was significantly tainted by his own wrongdoing and which he knew could not be properly presented in that form to a court."

A hearing before Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb was held earlier this year to assess the sums to be awarded following the Court of Appeal judgment.

Announcing her decision, she said the reason a judge at the Old Bailey ruled that Mr Eaton's evidence should be excluded was because DCS Cook "had compromised the integrity of the evidence Eaton proposed to give by initiating or allowing extensive contact with the witness in contravention of express agreements and accepted procedures".

"During this period Eaton's evidence, initially innocuous, expanded appreciably to include presence at the scene of the killing shortly after its commission together with knowledge of the claimants in the vicinity.

"Despite the ruling, at first the Crown indicated that the trial was to proceed on other evidence, but in March 2011 the judge was told that the prosecution was to be discontinued. No evidence was offered and each of the claimants obtained not guilty verdicts."

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said "honest belief in guilt cannot justify prosecuting a suspect on false evidence".

She added: "Although the publicly available decision of the Court of Appeal provides some succour it does not replace the impact of a suitable financial award both to the claimants themselves and on the public perception that there is no place for any form of 'noble-cause' justification for corrupt practices in those trusted to uphold the law."

 

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It seems slightly ironic that a notorious murder case that was linked to police corruption (and even had MI5 working on the periphery of he wider investigation into Southern Investigations) was chucked out of Court because the lead investigating Officer (DCS Cook)- an individual whom should have been whiter than white in order investigate corrupt police- ended up engaging in ‘noble cause’ corruption through engineering a prosecution based upon false evidence because he knew that the accused were guilty. 

It gets even more bizarre... 

In 2011, an investigator at the New of the World (which has close links with Southern Investigations) was found to have copies of the notes of DCS Cook’s wife, Ms Hames, in relation to the case from when she was also a police officer and coincidentally the CrimeWatch presenter whom was on the show when he made an appeal for witnesses in 2002.

DCS Cook and his wife were put under surveillance following his appearance on CrimeWatch, as the NoW wanted to see if they were ‘having an affair’ despite being married.  Ms Hames alleged at the 2013 Leveson Inquiry that this was just a smokescreen to obscure what was an investigation being undertaken in collusion with Southern Investigations in order to get some dirt on the couple.

In 2003, DCS Cook met with the then editor of the News of the World, Rebecca Brooks, whom continued to spin the yarn that he and his wife were put under surveillance to investigate whether the married couple were having an affair. This can now be dismissed, as the 2011 discovery of material in the possession of the NoW investigator (that was dated 2002) included pretty much the entire contents of DCS Cook’s wife personnel file- which would have included her martial status.

DCS Cook became disillusioned with the MET- especially with the perception that the Directorate of Professional Standards was too willing to cost up with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and he then tried to commit suicide twice in 2004.

Given the strain, his marriage broke down and he then attempted suicide twice again in 2009 in the run up to divorce proceedings. 

The prosecution of the three accused of Morgan’s murder collapsed in 2011. It was alleged the Cook coached a witness. 

In the run up to the aforementioned 2013 Leveson Inquiry, DCS Cook was arrested following disclosures made by the New International that he provided information to journalists. It was suggested by some that the disclosure by News International was timed in order to undermine Cook’s credibility as a witness to the Inquiry and to silence him, as he would not have been able to make wider comments on such matters whilst on police bail. A whopping 4 years later, the CPS decided not to prosecute Cook. The CPS acknowledge that Cook never received any money and many suggested that Cook was just planting stories in the media about the case in order to provoke a response as an investigationary technique. 

Was DCS Cook bent? The Court of Appeal said that to suggest that Cook did not act maliciously was like saying that Robin Hood was not guilty of theft. Clearly, the judiciary had some sympathy with Cook’s belief that these men were guilty.  Cook was a brave man whom took on police corruption and fought a David and Goliath battle with both Southern Investigations and News International. He buckled under that pressure and tried to kill himself on several occasions. In such circumstances, it is probably understandable (but not excuse able) that his judgement was ‘somewhat clouded’ and that may have influenced him coaching a witness. 

 

Edited by ParochialYokal
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