Spectator editor caught offside in false claims about Chelsea FC.
THEY say start as you mean to go on. And so it was with Toby Young, associate editor of The Spectator magazine and super-spreader of fake news about coronavirus.
The 57-year-old lockdown sceptic began his national media career with a major piece of fake journalism about Chelsea Football Club, The Upsetter can reveal.
In June 1985, Young, then a 21-year-old Oxford undergraduate, penned an article about a new ultra-violent group of Chelsea thugs called the Anti-Personnel Firm (APF) who were terrorising terraces and the British public.
The article appeared on the front page of The Observer, the UK’s oldest Sunday newspaper, was syndicated worldwide and later featured in an academic paper.
The splash entitled ‘Saturday Afternoon Fever’ had maximum impact coming just days after 39 people died following a clash between Italian and British fans at Heysel stadium in Brussels.
Young, whose father was an eminent sociologist, constructed 1500 words of pseudo-sociological baloney about hooliganism in the age of Thatcherism while claiming his revelations about the feared APF showed the media’s understanding was “out of date” .
The only problem was the APF didn’t exist.
Young had been fed the story by mischievous Chelsea fans who could smell his desperation for an edgy inside track on a subject well out of his comfort zone among Oxford contemporaries David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
Simple checks with the police, football clubs and rival supporters’ groups would have undermined the APF yarn.
Instead, Young mixed the well-known with breathless claims that there was “a direct correlation between smartness and violent excess” among this new group of “semi-affluent” well-dressed APF thugs who’d turned their back on designer sportswear.
“The APF kit themselves out at upmarket High Street menswear shops now, places like Woodhouse, Nickleby, Reiss and Kingsly, where the range changes every month.”
“Chelsea’s Anti-Personnel Firm mainly come from affluent London suburbs, places like Croydon, Harlow, Slough and new towns like Bracknell and Milton Keynes.”
But don’t for a second think the APF can’t hold their hands up.
Young went on:
“The APF are hard, they’ve got a reputation. A lot of people have tried to take the APF and most of them have got the stitches to prove it. When the APF have taken out one of their victims they leave a little calling card – nothing cheap, mind, but an expensive vellum, gold-embossed card [that] says, “Nothing Personal – You Have Been Serviced By The Anti-Personnel Firm.”
These calling cards were a “perversion” no less of their “bourgeois” symbolism. And in a final flourish, the son of a Labour peer claimed the APF’s very existence was an “indictment” of Thatcherism.
This would have been nonsense even had the APF existed. But they didn’t as one of its ‘members’ gleefully explained to The Upsetter.
“As I recall Young was doing a story on hooligans and asked a friend of mine at Oxford University if they knew any football firms. He said, ‘We know the APF’ at Chelsea and we spun him this story.”
No one expected Young’s revelations to appear on the front page of The Observer’s Weekend section. But the Heysel disaster gave the phoney content heft and Young much need street cool.
Back then he was already well connected among the metropolitan media elites of the left and right, he just hadn’t decided yet which way he was going.
That soon became clear and the rest is history.
More recently, Young lost his government job in student education regulation within weeks of being appointed by the Boris Johnson chumocracy in 2018.
The toadmeister, as he calls himself on Twitter, resigned over a series of lame lad, sad dad tweets about cleavage.
At the beginning of 2021, Young looked every bit the tit over more serious pseudo-epidemiological claims about the pandemic.
The press regulator ruled as “significantly misleading” his suggestion last summer in The Telegraph that London was approaching herd immunity and catching a cold could protect people against coronavirus.
Further humiliation came days later on the BBC where he apologised for claiming that coronavirus had “all but disappeared”.
More recently, as the man behind the Free Speech Union, he lost an important battle in the culture war when students fled from any affiliation with his right wing FSU, which has yet to file accounts about who really funds it.
Young did not comment on his fake Observer story.
However, he recently returned to the subject of football in The Spectator, where readers were told how much during lockdown he has missed going to see West London side Queens Park Rangers with his 12-year-old son. Young vowed “to go to every single game next season”.
At least they will be safe from the APF ruffians. Less so others.
Private Eye Accused of Notorious Axe Murder Sues Nemesis
JONATHAN REES, once the prime suspect for the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan, has taken the first step towards suing the senior detective whose efforts to put him behind bars were branded corrupt by judges.
Rees has turned the tables on David Cook, the retired senior detective behind the failed murder prosecution.
The trial collapsed in 2011 amid judicial concern about Cook’s contact with supergrass witnesses and wider non-disclosure of police documents.
Rees was awarded £155,000 in punitive damages for malicious prosecution by the Metropolitan police in 2019 after six senior judges found that Cook’s conduct in prompting a key supergrass amounted to perverting the course of justice.
Nevertheless, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) claimed it was not ‘in the public interest’ to prosecute him.
The former detective chief superintendent, who still has the support of the Morgan family, now faces private prosecution by lawyers acting for Rees.
Last month they wrote to Cook asking to interview him. The legal letter said:
“A person who is totally independent of the Morgan family, Rees and any of his co-defendants will conduct the interview. [It] will be recorded and under caution.”
Rees told The Upsetter:
“I nearly lost everything and would be dying in prison because of his corrupt tactics. He deserves to pay the price for trying to appease his bosses so they could bullshit the Morgan family. The police watchdog and the CPS said it wasn’t in the public interest to prosecute Cook, when it wasn’t in their interest to do so.”
Cook’s lawyers have asked for more information before submitting to an interview.
They also highlighted a serious complaint Cook has made against the Met in which he claims senior officers “deliberately” misled judges during the damages claim.
The response, dated 23 March, said:
“Our client has made a number of complaints against the Met, some of which are allegations of a criminal nature [which] call into question the reliability of the evidence presented by the Met.”
Cook has named former Met assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt in his complaint. Hewitt is now the most senior police officer in the country as chair of the National Police Chiefs Council.
Cook believes superiors made him a “scapegoat” and are covering up other problems within the Morgan investigation including corruption concerns around the preparation of supergrasses as prosecution witnesses.
Daniel Morgan, a 37-year-old private detective, was found dead in a south London pub car park with an axe in his head and £1000 in his pocket.
The married father of two was killed walking towards his car behind the Golden Lion pub after drinking with Rees, his business partner with whom he shared a lover.
There have been five failed investigations costing taxpayers in excess of £50m. The case is so mired in police corruption and incompetence that then home secretary Theresa May ordered an inquiry in 2013, which is due to report next month.
Cook declined to speak to The Upsetter, but a friend of the retired detective said the private prosecution was “a ruse by Rees to get the upper hand” before the inquiry panel publishes its report.
Both men are expecting to be criticised by the report, which will also put renewed heat on five previous Metropolitan police commissioners, three of whom are in the House of Lords, and current commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.
Home secretary Priti Patel will have to decide if any senior officer, almost all of whom have sailed off into the private sector with gold-plated pensions and the Queen’s Police Medal, should face any sanction.
Cook became the public face of the Morgan inquiry in 2002 when he fronted a BBC Crimewatch appeal for witnesses. Shortly after, he was appointed the senior investigating officer – a job seen by many colleagues as a poisoned chalice.
Cook took on the role with gusto and soon earned the trust of the Morgan family, who had been routinely ignored and lied to by the Met at the highest level.
One previous operation, for example, pretended to be about solving the murder when it was more intelligence gathering on Rees and his network of serving and retired detectives, criminals and journalists who routinely turned over high profile figures for tabloid newspapers.
Cook was nursing a major gripe against the Met while heading what would be the fifth and final Morgan murder inquiry. The Scottish detective felt the Met had failed to protect him and his family after The News of The World briefly put them under surveillance following his Crimewatch appearance.
Privately, Cook’s marriage to detective Jacqui Hames, a Crimewatch presenter, was falling apart since 1999 and triggered in the detective an acute mental health crisis, including several suicide attempts.
Nevertheless, Cook did not stand aside as the cop in charge of the Met’s longest unsolved murder. He was convinced of the guilt of Rees and four others in variously plotting, executing and covering up the crime.
The Met, remarkably, assigned him Mike Sullivan, crime editor of The Sun to secretly write a book about Cook’s efforts to solve the case and restore pride to the force. Cook would later say the prospect of the book was the only thing at times that kept him alive.
A conviction would guarantee sales. And it was not irrelevant that during the murder investigation Cook was in financial difficulties following his marital breakdown with two children to support and the Met having refused to buy the family home as a security measure.
Book or no book, solving the murder of Daniel Morgan was never going to be easy. All previous efforts had failed to produce forensic or other convincing evidence. Hints, hunches, hearsay, strange comments, bad character but no evidence.
Even hours of bugged conversations and an undercover operative inside Rees’ company failed to produce clear admissions from the suspects.
Rees has always denied any involvement and says the Met were blinkered in its approach from the very beginning by refusing to examine Morgan’s knotty personal life and business connections.
Cook and the Morgan family though were convinced the right names were in the frame but the Met and CPS realised the case would not break open without witnesses coming forward.
With the help of planted stories in The Sun, two serious criminals emerged and were handed over to the murder squad.
Jimmy Ward, who faced a massive sentence for drug trafficking, and Gary Eaton, who was mentally unstable, were debriefed by detectives separate from Cook and his team to avoid claims of coaching, coercion and inducement at trial.
But Cook was found to have repeatedly breached the so-called sterile corridor, in particular through his contact with Eaton, who confessed to multiple crimes the police were unaware of, but equally had a desire to please and was a manipulative liar.
Rees and his co-defendants, brothers-in-law Glenn and Garry Vian (alleged axe wielder and look out respectively) and Jimmy Cook (alleged getaway driver) mounted a full-scale attack on the supergrass-based prosecution in a pre-trial hearing that went on for months at the Old Bailey in London.
One by one the supergrass evidence was excluded based on their own duplicity and appalling failings in the debriefing system, much of which was put at Cook’s door.
The final straw was massive material non-disclosure of sensitive police documents.
The trial collapsed in March 2011 with the prosecution throwing in the towel on the 24th anniversary of the Morgan murder.
Cook went sick with ill health later that year and never returned to active police duty.
In 2012, however, he was arrested along with Sullivan as part of a spin off inquiry from the so-called ‘phone hacking’ scandal.
In a bid to save its senior executives and boss Rupert Murdoch, News International, owner of The News of The World and The Sun, gave all its journalists’ emails to the Met without concern for protecting legitimate sources.
The data dump of emails led to criminal probes into relationships between public officials and journalists to see if any had been paid. Ironically, the Met had authorised Cook’s relationship with Sullivan.
Both men were cleared by 2015 but the episode fed Cook’s view that the Met were throwing him under the bus as the fall guy for all that went wrong with the Morgan investigation.
He also believed that the Met was doing this to protect the senior management team, whose cosy links to News International were becoming exposed by the hacking scandal.
Meanwhile, Rees was busy trying to get revenge on the system he felt had fitted him up. He brought a civil claim against the Met and Cook for malicious prosecution, which was initially heard by Mr Justice Mitting at the high court in 2017
Behind the scenes, stinging judicial criticism from the murder trial judge had forced the Met to launch an internal investigation into whether Cook had perverted the course of justice.
But just before the damages hearing, Cook says the Met’s legal department told him that he had been cleared.
A source close to Cook said he had privately warned the Met that if he was criminally prosecuted the whole house of cards was coming down and all he knew about what had gone on during the many Morgan murder investigations would come out in his defence and elsewhere.
By now, Cook had a coterie of rival journalists and pretend ones allied to lawyers representing celebrities whose phone messages had been illegally accessed and were looking for an easy payday. The main target of this group was bringing down News International and its friends in the Met.
For many reasons, few palatable, it was in the Met’s interest that Cook was not prosecuted, if only to stand a chance of defending the damages claim brought by Rees and the Vian brothers.
In the end, Cook did not give evidence at the high court damages hearings. He now says he was willing to do so but accuses the Met of trying to “silence” him from giving the evidence he wanted, which would have shifted some of the blame elsewhere and upstairs.
Cook says the Met misled Mr Justice Mitting by first claiming it could not locate him and then by claiming that giving evidence would set back his mental health.
Mitting was furious over Cook’s non-appearance and while critical of the former lead detective over his handling of the supergrass Gary Eaton the high court judge did not find for Rees or the Vians.
They appealed and Mitting’s finding was overturned in 2018. Three court of appeal judges were excoriating of Cook. Such was the judicial condemnation that the Met re-opened its investigation of him for perverting the course of justice. But once again he was cleared internally.
And last year, another supposed check on police abuse, the Crown Prosecution Service, decided it was not in the public interest to prosecute Cook.
This despite the findings of the murder trial judge, Mitting, three appeal judges and a sixth judge who in July 2019 finally awarded Rees £155,000 in punitive damages. Glenn Vian was awarded the same and his brother Garry got £104,000.
By June 2020, Cook was free for the first time in eight years of the threat of criminal prosecution. It was time to strike back.
He made a complaint to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) against former Met assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt, who oversaw the investigation of Cook and the response to Rees’ damages claim, and Fiona McCormack, the detective who did the internal investigation before going on to help with the police response to the 2017 Grenfell Fire.
Cook also complained against Met solicitor Gurpreet Rai.
The letter to the police watchdog said:
“I argue that the Met engaged in a cover up of the organisational failings and the true facts to protect their reputation and in doing so individuals have perjured themselves, misled the Court and withheld evidence.”
Cook was also making some startling allegations about how the Morgan murder was run. He denied acting corruptly but apologised for his “failings in the handling of witness Gary Eaton” claiming he was given no training in how to handle supergrasses.
Cook went on to describe the debriefing system as under-resourced and “chaotic” and then made this remarkable allegation. He said he was overruled about video recording key supergrass witness Eaton because it –
“would be problematic should they need to straighten anything out.”
Cook was alleging a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in the way supergrass evidence was obtained and presented at court contrary to a new law designed to prevent such abuses to secure convictions.
Cook’s complaint to the IOPC referred to questions over the integrity of three named detectives involved in the debriefing of super grasses, which he said were not properly investigated by the anti-corruption squad.
One of these allegations relates to the prolific south London criminal Chris McCormack, whose story features in The Upsetter’s debut post ‘The Autistic Detective’, published on April 1.
McCormack was an associate of Garry Vian and had visited him in prison. Vian was doing time for the same drug conspiracy as Jimmy Ward, who turned supergrass and claimed Vian was involved in the Morgan murder.
Rees also knew McCormack. In the late Nineties he was instructed by defence solicitors to help McCormack who was facing trial for the torture of a man said to have owed a debt to the Adams crime family. McCormack was acquitted.
In his complaint to the IOPC, Cook said that in August 2005 he had been given intelligence (from supergrass Jimmy Ward) that McCormack was being “protected” by a named senior officer on the Flying Squad who was now working on the Morgan case.
Cook put the intelligence in an official form, disclosed here for the first time. It said:
I was contacted by telephone by the Source on or about the 8th August 2005. He stated that he has been involved or party to a discussion about the Bullion job in London from which some people are standing trial. He stated that McCormack, who was involved in it was being protected by a DCI.
The Bullion job was a reference to the February 2004 Johnson Matthey robbery of £1.4m of gold bars. Four men had just been sentenced in July 2005 after a controversial trial.
Part of their defence had been that McCormack was an agent provocateur who’d helped set up the robbery and then pulled out because he was working for the police. The Flying Squad had denied this to the judge.
In his complaint to the IOPC, Cook said he raised the potential corruption issue with Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the anti-corruption squad and the Flying Squad.
It wasn’t clear if Cook’s source was saying McCormack had a corrupt senior officer in his pocket or was being protected as a valuable informant allowed to commit crime with impunity.
Either way it screamed out to be independently investigated.
But, remarkably, the IOPC gave Cook’s complaint to the Met’s anti-corruption squad, aka the Untouchables, to investigate.
The supposed police watchdog was set up after the scandal around the Met’s bungling of the 1993 Stephen Lawrence murder. It was supposed to be an independent investigative force. But since its birth in 2004, the IOPC has been a creation and creature of the Untouchables.
The watchdog has had so many chances to bark, fetch or bare teeth that the clamour is now for putting it down.
On 9 July 2020, the Untouchables dismissed Cook’s complaint as old news without even a whimper from the IOPC.
In a letter to Cook, the Untouchables said:
Firstly I would like to bring to your attention that as you were employed by the Metropolitan police at the time of the allegations you have made you are not a complainant under the Police Reform Act 2002, therefore we have no obligation to record the matter as a compliant (sic). I have conducted a review of the information you have sent to us, and can see no new allegations have been made. Everything within your letter and evidence was looked into in PC/1410/12 . All matters have been dealt with and actioned and we will be taking no further action with regards to your complaint.
However, days later when The Upsetter asked the Met for a comment it suddenly said the decision to kick Cook’s complaint into the long grass was under review.
Since then, Cook has been informed that detective superintendent Mark Broom is investigating.
Last night, the Met declined to say what had prompted the change, whether anyone named in Cook’s complaint had been interviewed yet and why the force felt it had the necessary independence to investigate in the first place.
The Upsetter has spoken to the now retired senior officer alleged to be ‘protecting’ McCormack. He denied even knowing the criminal or acting in a corrupt manner.
The retired officer accepted that Cook was duty bound to put the allegation into the system but questioned why the Met never properly investigated it at the time. He said he was never served with a formal notification and only discovered there had been an allegation about his integrity when the Daniel Morgan Inquiry Panel contacted him in late 2020.
Only now has he been disclosed a 2006 internal report by the anti-corruption squad saying the allegation was considered unfounded.
The retired officer also denied Cook’s other allegations about the debriefing of supergrass Gary Eaton. He believes Cook is “having afters” – in other words, trying to spread the blame after the juridical criticism of how he had handled Eaton.
According to the retired senior officer, Cook ignored an early warning from the debriefers that Eaton was not a witness of truth and continued to have undocumented contact with the supergrass.
The Daniel Morgan Inquiry Panel is about to publish its report after seven years and £14m. Sources say the delays are in part being blamed on the Met’s slow provision of documents.
Rees is not expecting an easy ride from the Panel. Nor is Cook.
If all goes to plan, Cook eventually will be summonsed by Rees to a London magistrates court to give his account of what went on inside the Met after the Panel’s report is published.
The prime suspect does not rule out one day becoming allies with his old nemesis. Stranger things have happened in this case.
LEADERS of a controversial support group for childcare professionals and others accused of sexual abuse have resigned after an investigation by The Upsetter.
This newsletter examined claims from whistleblowers that Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers (FACT) had been “hijacked” by convicted paedophiles. It soon became clear that Manchester-based FACT allows sex offenders who either pleaded guilty or never challenged their convictions to join.
The group has hundreds of members and has been going for over 20 years with the support of academics from major universities, well-known journalists and law firms looking for business.
It also emerged that FACT was twice refused charitable status amid regulatory concerns about its vetting procedures.
The Charity Commission was alarmed about the group’s political and campaigning objectives, which have sought to exploit public reaction to the bungled Scotland Yard operation codenamed Midland into historic sexual abuse by Establishment figures.
No Clear Process
A troubled member of FACT contacted The Upsetter after the group made a failed second attempt to obtain charitable status using a new name.
The whistleblower was concerned about the group’s management team, which included two men convicted of child abuse and the wife of a disgraced priest who had pleaded guilty to molesting a young girl in his Sussex parish.
“I joined FACT after being acquitted of false allegations but later discovered it was run by men convicted of sex crimes who claimed innocence but never appealed. I felt the group had been hijacked,” said the source.
FACT believes the scale of historic child sexual abuse has been “exaggerated” by mendacious complainants leading to many miscarriages of justice.
While undoubtedly some people have been falsely accused, more recently by Carl Beech, the fantasist believed by Operation Midland, the Charity Commission is right to be troubled over the way FACT assesses the “innocence” of its own members while disparaging vulnerable witnesses, who judge and juries have already found to be credible.
The Charity Commission rejected FACT’s first application for charitable status in 2015 and again in March 2020.
On the last occasion it re-applied under a new guise “Supporting Victims of Unfounded Allegations of Abuse”, a limited company incorporated in 2019.
A spokesperson for the regulator said:
“As part of our consideration of these applications we considered how [FACT] defined ‘false allegations’ noting that there was no clear process of enquiry to test and determine that an allegation is indeed false”.
Declarations of Innocence
FACT secretary, Brian Hudson, 71, told The Upsetter that members must sign a “declaration of innocence”, which “hopefully in most cases” they can support with documents from their solicitor, family or even a court, he said.
But when it came to Hudson’s own brush with the law, he refused to discuss his 4-year sentence for historic abuse in a boys’ home, which has put him on the sex offenders’ register since 1997.
Hudson claimed he was appealing his conviction but refused to provide details, personally or through a lawyer, including of any fresh evidence.
It was the same story with FACT’s chairman and chief executive of the new limited company.
Nicholas Griffin, 62, remained silent when asked if he was appealing his 2011 conviction for abuse of boys at an orphanage he ran in Cambodia following a joint operation with the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
On his deportation to the UK, Griffin was arrested on separate historic abuse claims in north Wales. That case was dropped on CPS advice. The police refused to say why.
Griffin has let it be known through FACT’s newsletter that he is innocent. And tells a story about being homeless on the streets of London. However, he refused to discuss details of his past with The Upsetter.
Instead, the holy figure of FACT president, Sister Dominica, aka Frances Ritchie OBE, came to the defence of Hudson, Griffin and other members of the FACT flock.
The self styled ‘Sister of Mercy’ said FACT had always been “an open and transparent organisation” that “abhors” child abuse. But she refused to respond to questions about individual members’ cases.
She said in a statement:
“We are an organisation that prides itself on the support we provide to our members and that support includes an expectation of privacy.”
Ritchie, a paediatric nurse, pointed out that members of FACT include the accused but never prosecuted, the acquitted and the convicted that maintain their innocence.
“FACT will not allow anyone into its membership unless they sign a declaration that any allegations of abuse that have been made against them are false and warrant they have not downloaded child pornography.”
The declaration amounts to no more than box ticking. There is no way of policing it and FACT accepts its trust-based approach makes it vulnerable to infiltration by paedophiles, for whom deception is a way of life.
Ritchie, who was accused by two women of historic abuse but never prosecuted and maintains her innocence, said the Charity Commission was “politically motivated and controlled and opposed to critics of government policy”.
FACT also claims to have been snubbed by Baroness Jay’s on-going Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.
But the group has enjoyed at least tacit support from leading academics and lawyers including David Janner QC, the barrister son of Lord Greville Janner, the now dead Labour peer who prosecutors belatedly accept should have been tried for multiple claims of child abuse while he was an MP for Leicester.
During FACT’s failed efforts to attain charitable status, Patricia MacDuff first appeared as a trustee and then as a director of the new limited company.
She is the wife of Brian Spence, who pleaded guilty in May 2018 to indecent assault on a 10-year-old girl while he was a Church of England priest in the late Seventies. He was jailed for three years and two months.
The couple and Sister Frances refused to discuss why anyone would plead guilty to such an appalling crime if they were innocent.
However, in an internal email Hudson expressed alarm that The Upsetter had discovered the connection between the disgraced priest, FACT and MacDuff as Spence sometimes uses his wife’s surname.
The Wrong Truncheon
It was these concerns that led former Scotland Yard detective Gurpal Virdi to resign from FACT to protect his reputation as someone who provably had been falsely accused.
Virdi joined the group after his swift acquittal in 2015 on historic charges of sexually assaulting a teenage prisoner with a truncheon in a police cell in 1986.
Virdi’s prosecution was widely seen as a fit-up by the anti-corruption squad, the so-called Untouchables, in retaliation for a 30-year career exposing police misconduct and racism in Scotland Yard until his retirement in 2012.
News that Virdi had been charged was made public by the police just before the local elections in May 2014. He was forced to stand down as Labour candidate for his home borough in west London.
The plot came unstuck at court when the alleged victim, who never complained at the time of his arrest, claimed the extendable truncheon inserted through trousers into his anus was of a kind not issued to the police until many years later.
The jury came back with a not guilty verdict. Even the trial judge hinted at a conspiracy behind the prosecution.
After his acquittal, Virdi was desperate for the collective therapy found among victims of false accusations. Having such a high profile member and former policeman was a coup for FACT, who made him a trustee.
But the doubts about its vetting processes grew and Virdi resigned last year. Whistleblowers then came forward with concerns about the people in charge.
A Direct Stain
FACT survives on membership fees, public donations and sponsorship. By becoming a limited company with charitable status it hoped to access grant funding and employ Nicholas Griffin part time as chief executive on a salary.
But the plan stalled when The Upsetter started asking questions.
Sister Frances, 78, was the first to resign in November. She stood down as director of the limited company and then as president of FACT in December. The Sister of Mercy refused to say why, but members were told it was due to “pressing commitments”.
Next, Griffin resigned as chairman in January. Members were told he left “to move on with other opportunities in his life.”
That month, Hudson started a telling recruitment drive for a new board of the limited company. His email to members said:
“It is not ideal for us to have those with or related to those with a conviction to be the sole directors (we have already encountered one issue with this), and ideally would like a company or individuals free from the direct stain of a false allegation and/or conviction join the board of directors.”
On March 7, he too resigned as a director.
Before he went, Hudson texted The Upsetter to say Patricia MacDuff was “considering her position.”
But on Easter Sunday, the wife of a disgraced priest who pleaded guilty to abusing a child remains a director of FACT.
Police, Prostitutes, Corruption and the Watchdog that didn’t Bark
THE UNTOUCHABLES, Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption squad, spent almost seven years trying to nail detective constable Dan Williams for pimping prostitutes on a sugar daddy website. But the prosecution has now collapsed in costly and embarrassing failure.
Williams, who is autistic, mostly represented himself since his arrest and suspension on full pay in 2014.
With no legal training, the 44-year-old detective ran circles around his legal opponents in a series of pre-trial hearings that slowly chipped away at the prosecution case and the evidence the police wanted to put before the jury in May.
On March 2, the prosecution was fatally wounded when Judge Michael Grieve QC chucked out the main charge against Williams of misconduct in a public office by controlling prostitutes for gain, describing it as “unsustainable”.
Six days later, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally abandoned the trial. The Untouchables hid behind the skirt of prosecutor Gillian Jones QC as the CPS announced it was “no longer in the public interest” to continue with the remaining lesser charges.
As will soon become apparent, the public interest in the case of Regina v DC Dan Williams lay somewhere else.
It can now be disclosed that the prosecution had also lost a legal bid to prevent DC Williams from airing explosive allegations of police corruption at his trial.
Judge Grieve ruled that Williams could present a whistle-blowing defence to the jury and argue that his prosecution was retaliation for speaking up about the “serious corruption and criminality” he claimed to have witnessed while serving on the Flying Squad, which investigates the UK’s most dangerous armed robbers.
Williams claims that between 2006 and 2011 senior officers turned a blind eye to violent criminals because they were valuable informants and, furthermore, that crucial evidence was withheld from a trial leading to a potential miscarriage of justice.
Judge Grieve’s ruling meant Williams could subpoena senior officers and prosecutors to answer questions about specific Flying Squad operations.
The prospect was so concerning that Gillian Jones QC is understood to have met with the director of public prosecutions to discuss an appeal.
In his explosive witness statement, revealed here for the first time, Williams claims senior officers were protecting a prolific armed robber known as ‘the Commander’, who was also an associate of a notorious London crime family.
Phone taps, surveillance and co-conspirators variously identified ‘the Commander’ as having a role in the £1.75m Menzies heist at Heathrow Airport in February 2004 and the £1.4m gold bullion robbery one month later at the Johnson Matthey depository in north London.
But according to Williams, senior officers refused to arrest the top gangster and his true role was kept hidden from the court because he was a valued informant who operated with impunity.
More startling, perhaps, is Williams’ claim that during the 2005 trial of four men for the Johnson Matthey robbery he was ordered to withhold vital evidence from their lawyers and the judge.
The Watchdog With No Bite
Williams’ witness statement dated 10 December 2018 was originally passed to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) because he separately claimed the watchdog had been misled along with the coroner over a third Flying Squad operation. This had resulted in the “unnecessary” fatal police shooting in 2007 of two robbers at Chandler’s Ford in Hampshire.
Allegations of perverting the course of justice and perjury are at the top end of police corruption and very rare when they come from a serving detective.
However, for reasons it will not fully explain, the IOPC sat on Williams’ statement from December 2018 to June 2019. The watchdog then allowed Scotland Yard to investigate itself.
There was a double conflict of interest because the job of looking into Williams’ claims about the Flying Squad was given to the same anti-corruption unit that was behind his prostitution prosecution.
In February 2020, the Untouchables decided there was “no evidence” to support Williams’ claims.
A police spokesperson told The Upsetter:
“Given the complexity and sensitive nature of the large volume of material the officer provided, the IOPC referred the matter to the MPS on 14 June 2019 to review and make an initial assessment on the way forward. The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards Anti-Corruption Command completed a fact-finding investigation and provided the IOPC with a report. The MPS was satisfied there was no evidence to support any of the criminal or misconduct allegations raised by the officer.”
The watchdog nodded in agreement.
Scotland Yard had successfully suppressed Williams’ corruption allegations without any independent investigation. But Williams was not to be bested.
It was in the face of this fierce opposition that he persuaded Judge Grieve he should be allowed to put the corruption claims before the jury as part of his whistle-blower defence.
Weeks later, on March 2, the judge excluded the main charge in the indictment against him. It was these two factors that led the CPS to abandon the entire prosecution.
Serpico or Bad Lieutenant?
The autistic detective had avoided prison. But his 23-year-police career was over. Behind the scenes secret negotiations were taking place to secure his retirement on medical grounds.
On March 8, dressed in a blue stripped tracksuit and wearing a high-spec white face mask, Williams walked out of Southwark Crown Court in south London a free man.
Before he left, he turned to Gillian Jones QC and joked that Cate Blanchett could play her in the film.
Williams was not a classic police whistleblower in the mould of Al Pacino’s Serpico. Harvey Keitel’s Bad Lieutenant would be nearer the mark.
In the vernacular of Scotland Yard detectives, Dan Williams ‘loved a Tom’ – London slang for a prostitute. He often filmed these sexual encounters, some of which took place while he was on duty. His wife only found out when the Untouchables raided the family home in 2014.
‘The Toms’, Williams insists, were unaware he was a detective. But at the very least, his desires made him vulnerable to blackmail by criminals and to disciplinary action by the police.
They also raise important questions about his motivation for speaking out and if this shaped the watchdog’s response to his corruption allegations.
Was his use of prostitutes a legitimate trigger for the Untouchables’ interest in Williams? Or did they target him because he had challenged corrupt practices in the Flying Squad and elsewhere? Was his whistleblowing an attempt to undermine the prostitution prosecution?
When and why Williams blew the whistle is not as important as whether he is telling the truth about impunity given to violent criminals, such as ‘The Commander’, who also liked a Tom.
The Flying Squad: A Corrupt Past
The Flying Squad has four branches in London each with their own sphere of responsibility for armed robberies in the four corners of the capital and its outer limits.
When Williams joined in 2004, the Flying Squad was only just recovering from a major corruption scandal six years earlier in its east London branch.
In 1998, the Untouchables launched a corruption drive that selectively targeted certain squads and left others alone. The Walthamstow branch of the Flying Squad was very much in the Untouchables’ cross hairs and crimes like the ones Williams was alleging were taken seriously back then.
Bent detectives were turned into supergrasses and revealed crimes ranging from planting weapons on robbers to stealing the proceeds of their crimes.
The ‘Commander’ featured in that corruption scandal. He was suspected of trying to blow up a criminal associate who was giving evidence against him and a group of corrupt Flying Squad detectives.
The close relationship between some detectives and their informants was found to be wide open to abuse. But effective policing can’t do without grasses.
They are a large part of what makes the Flying Squad and other specialist police units successful. A good informant is invariably a good criminal trusted by other villains because he is ‘at it’.
The unspoken pact between a police squad and the informant is that ‘their man’ gets a free pass on certain crimes because he delivers on bigger ones. It is sometimes argued that letting your informant ‘run’ is necessary because the more ‘naughty’ the underworld believe him to be, the less likely he will be fingered as a grass.
But there is an inherent tension in where the public interest lies between arresting dangerous armed robbers and allowing the same men to commit crime with impunity so they can inform on others.
The public interest can easily get lost in the private interest of the cops and robbers, without the need for a bribe. That’s because protecting a good informant is a sure fire way to promotion and prestige if the robberies he informs on end in convictions. And for the informant, he gets to settle scores, stay out of prison and keep the proceeds of crime.
By the time Williams arrived at the Flying Squad, informants were handled by a separate unit, SO10. This overhaul of the informant system was designed to prevent corruption, compromise and infiltration by criminals.
The Fifth Man
Williams was posted to the Barnes branch of the Flying Squad covering south west London, an area familiar to him. He was 26-years-old and raring to go.
In the first few months of 2004, the Barnes Flying Squad was busy investigating intelligence that had come from the National Crime Squad (NCS).
Williams learned that detectives from the NCS office in Swanley, Kent were working on a heroin case and had picked up intelligence from a phone box that a major armed robbery was about to go down in north London.
The Barnes Flying Squad was given the case even though the robbers and their target were on the north London patch of the Flying Squad branch based in Finchley.
Police sources say this is because a detective had transferred from the NCS office in Swanley to the Barnes Flying Squad bringing the armed robbery intelligence with him.
The same sources say Finchley helped Barnes with surveillance on the team of robbers who were identified as Kevin Fox, Paul Rayson, Kevin Wishart and inside man, Steve Blackman, who worked night shifts at Johnson Mattey’s precious metals depository in Edmonton
The trio were followed to Fox’s lock up and an observation post was set up across the road from the depository.
At 10.30pm on Saturday night March 27 2004, armed police lay in wait as the three robbers made their getaway from the depositary in a silver Mercedes weighed down with £1.4m of gold bars in the boot.
Hatton bullets shot out the tyres. But the Mercedes drove on until escape was futile and two unmarked police vehicles made a hard stop on the getaway car boxing it in on the bus lane.
Wishart, in body armour, threw his Smith & Wesson out of the window and was brought to the ground bemoaning loudly, “Why the fuck did I get involved? I’ve got a lovely family.”
Fox, a former Foreign Legionnaire, was also wearing body armour. He surrendered his Magnum pistol. But armed police nevertheless “battered” him, recalled one Flying Squad surveillance officer who was looking on.
Fox was repeatedly tasered in the neck. Hours later when a doctor examined him in a police cell, a Flying Squad officer tapped his side arm as the cuffs were removed and warned the robber against having a go.
Fox had put the robbery together. “It was my bit of work, my inside man,” he told the Upsetter. So it didn’t take long for him to identify who he thought was the informant on the job.
The robbery was almost called off because the gold melted into bars every day was never sufficient for the risk.
The inside man usually contacted Fox every day at around 6pm as he clocked on for the night shift. On the day of the robbery he rang to say there had been a ‘double melt’ – meaning a large amount of bullion in gold bars. The job was on.
As usual, Fox went to a phone box and contacted Rayson and Wishart on their burner phones to pass on the good news.
How the police knew the robbery was happening on March 27 when the robbers didn’t know until hours before was exercising Fox’s considerable intelligence. His thoughts turned to a fifth man who had pulled out with an injured hand after supplying the logistics for the robbery.
Waiting in Belmarsh Prison for their trial, Fox turned to Wishart one day and said he was certain it was the fifth man who had “bubbled up” everyone. Wishart was unconvinced. The fifth man was his mate and the person he’d brought into the robbery plan.
There’s no way ‘the Commander’, a prolific armed robber, was a police informant, Wishart replied.
The Duress Defence
Kevin Wishart was drawn into the orbit of south London villainy from running a nightclub security business in his late teens, he told the Upsetter.
It was the early 80s and he took to hanging out at a spieler run by Ronnie Olliffe. After a while people started to believe Wishart was an enforcer for the Old Kent Road face
At some point in the 90s, Wishart and Kevin Fox went into partnership. They both had an interest in guns and started providing armed security to night club promoters and other businessmen who were being shaken down or threatened by villains.
This, and his membership of a gun club whose owner sold weapons to the underworld, earned Wishart the reputation in police intelligence files of being a contract killer for organised crime, something he denies.
In the late 90s, Wishart met fellow south Londoner Chris McCormack at a golf club. By then, McCormack was a well-regarded premier league villain – a violent lone wolf trusted by the underworld because of his insatiable appetite for armed robbery.
McCormack’s criminal career started after he was kicked out of the army for attacking an officer. He soon made his name in the 70s working with the cream of London’s armed robbers.
After a sentence for attempted kidnap and robbery in the early 80s, McCormack emerged from prison to become one of the UK’s leading exponents of cash-in-transit robberies, which earned him the nickname among some as ‘the Commander’.
In the late 90s he was acquitted of the torture of a money man suspected of stealing from the UK’s leading organised crime family, the Adams brothers in north London, who he was close to.
Detectives who followed him and tapped his phones swapped stories in the pub of the sex toy McCormack was said to carry around in a special case for trips abroad. On one occasion in Dublin, local Toms he called up from a tapped hotel phone were unwilling to oblige him so a regular was flown in from London for the session, a surveillance source recalled.
Wishart became firm friends with McCormack after doing him a big favour. A criminal associate of the Commander was looking at a long prison sentence for beating up someone who Wishart knew. Words were had and the case dropped.
In late 2003, Wishart says he mentioned the possibility of robbing Johnson Matthey to McCormack. Between November and December, the Commander supplied a bag of guns, the Mercedes getaway car and insisted on meeting Fox’s inside man without disguising his identity.
However, in early January 2004 McCormack was nursing a claw like hand apparently injured on New Year’s Eve. He flagged to Wishart that he might not be match fit for the Johnson Matthey job.
Weeks later, the underworld was buzzing with news about an audacious heist at Heathrow Airport on 6 February.
A six-man team escaped with £1.75m in cash from Menzies World Cargo, if only for a while. The Finchley Flying Squad had been listening to the robbers’ phones for days and four of them were scooped up with bags of cash.
Detectives were convinced McCormack was one of the two that got away. But senior Flying Squad officers decided not to arrest him, said a well-placed source.
According to Wishart, shortly after the Menzies robbery, McCormack suggested a well-known associate could replace him on the Johnson Matthey job. The offer was discussed and rejected.
On March 27, Fox, Rayson and Wishart were arrested trying to getaway in the Mercedes McCormack had provided.
While waiting in prison for his trial, McCormack contacted Wishart through his lawyers and made an incredible suggestion.
He told Wishart to claim that he only did the gold bullion robbery in fear of his life and in order to pay back a debt to the Commander.
It says something about McCormack’s carefree attitude that he did not fear arrest for conspiracy to rob or perverting the course of justice.
Wishart agreed with the suggestion and put forward the false duress defence at his trial, which started in March 2005.
He told The Upsetter:
“As the trial loomed I had the opportunity to read Untouchables. I had by now started to suspect my loyalty to Chris McCormack may be misguided. Imagine the moment when I read that a senior cop said: “I wanted to investigate McCormack for the hand grenade attack on [armed robber turned supergrass] Hector Harvey but was stopped and never told why!” I had a deep sickening feeling that my mate was working for the police and had set me up.
I recalled in my mind the pressure he was applying to not only push this job forward but keep me part of it telling me he only wanted to work with me on it as I was solid. That he didn’t know the others and every time I expressed a reluctance he would talk me round.
Not long after and maybe a month before the trial I got word that Chris said I should blame him. That he put me up to it and he wanted me to say that. He also said I could say another well known criminal was with him in using duress. Whether he suddenly grew a conscience over what he did to me or not I am not sure. If you think it through the police must have sanctioned Chris offering this as otherwise they would have to nick him.”
McCormack was never tried as a co-conspirator.
Fox’s defence matched his early suspicions. He claimed that McCormack was an agent provocateur working with the police to set up the robbery. This defence put an obligation on the prosecution to disclose police information about McCormack or abandon the case because it would reveal him to be the informant.
In the end, prosecution lawyers and police went into a series of secret sessions with the judge, called Public Interest Immunity (PII) hearings, from which the defence are excluded.
The trial judge examined secret material from the Barnes Flying Squad’s operation, codenamed Rowlock, and from the National Crime Squad operation codenamed Rockingham.
A well-placed source said a tap on a phone box used by McCormack had captured him making an intriguing comment after the arrest of Wishart and the others. “I put three into this,” he said.
These five words suggested strongly that McCormack was a co-conspirator in the Johnson Matthey robbery. But in one PII hearing, a prosecutor assured the judge this was not the case. Consequently, the transcript of the phone tap and the sensitive material around it did not have to be disclosed.
Nevertheless, defence barristers had some success in damaging the credibility of the Flying Squad’s claim that it was a “best guess” that the Johnson Matthey depository was the target of the robbery.
It also didn’t help the prosecution when a senior Flying Squad officer claimed he hadn’t heard of McCormack until the defence mentioned him.
It was like an art dealer saying he hadn’t heard of Picasso. After all, McCormack’s name was all over the police surveillance logs and intelligence files.
The senior officer corrected his claim when challenged but some in the prosecution camp believed the judge was now “spooked”. They were right. The judge agreed with the defence argument that continuing the trial would amount to an abuse of process.
The main count on the indictment was subsequently reduced from robbery to theft, where the sentence was much lighter. The defendants knew this was a result given the evidence against them and grabbed at the chance to plead guilty.
In July 2005 Fox and Rayson got 7 years for the theft and guns. Wishart got six months less.
As this internal police document shows, the police were not happy and planned on reporting the judge to the director of public prosecutions.
A Deep Sense Of Unease
In his ruling the judge had made clear his concerns about the Flying Squad and prosecution.
“I am left with a deep sense of unease. There is an irresistible inference that all has not been revealed to me.”
At least one Flying Squad detective whole-heartedly agreed.
In his statement to the police watchdog, DC Dan Williams alleged that the Flying Squad Operation Rowlock was “corrupt”.
The NCS in Swanley knew about the Johnson Matthey robbery from phone taps and “were using a participating informant to incite the offence,” he said.
Williams identified Chris McCormack as that informant and said the NCS and Flying Squad had protected him from prosecution.
He also said it was “a blatant lie” for officers to swear on oath that they didn’t know Johnson Matthey’s depository was the target. Phone taps on Wishart, Fox, Rayson and the inside man had made that clear.
Williams thought McCormack should have been arrested for conspiracy to rob but said a senior officer told him to take no action, strongly hinting he was an informant.
Then there was this bombshell. Williams was the disclosure officer responsible under the Criminal Procedure & Investigations Act (CPIA) for ensuring all police documents relevant to the defence case were disclosed before the trial, especially if they undermined the prosecution case.
“It was clear that disclosure was not going to be conducted properly. When I questioned this … I was removed,” Williams said in his statement.
Asked to expand on this, he told The Upsetter:
“The guys were set up. The CPIA was just torn up and thrown in the bin. It was a corrupt operation from the National Crime Squad and I didn’t want to be a party to it when it was blatantly obvious. I had no sympathy with Kevin [Wishart] and the others. They were serious criminals. But what I wasn’t going to do is sacrifice my career and sacrifice myself for officers who weren’t doing what they should have done.
“What I did do during the trial was I refused. When it got to the stage where it was blatantly criminal I refused to sign the (disclosure) certificates.”
Williams alleges that a senior Flying Squad officer ordered him not to disclose evidence of the contact between Johnson Matthey and the police before the robbery. Williams claims he refused and was removed as disclosure officer. However, crucially, he said he told two members of the prosecution team – lawyers – what had happened and that if he was asked in the witness box he would reveal all.
“I had made my views very clear and the prosecution was aware of the stance I would take and likely result in the collapse of the entire prosecution,” his statement said.
After the Johnson Matthey trial ended with the convictions of the robbers, Williams detailed in his witness statement another run in with management at Barnes over a controversial Flying Squad operation codenamed Hurlock.
This involved the allegedly “unnecessary” fatal shooting of two armed robbers in 2007 in Hampshire. Williams claimed the inquest into the deaths was misled.
Solicitor Sarah McSherry represented the families of Mark Nunes and Andrew Markland at the inquest in 2011. She told The Upsetter:
“Allegations about the corruption of the police unit involved in the deaths of their loved ones are obviously of considerable concern, not least because no such evidence was before the inquest into their deaths.”
After seven years, Williams said he was “kicked off” the Barnes Flying Squad in 2011 and transferred to routine duties in Battersea and Wandsworth, south London.
There he started noticing similar problems where criminals who were informants were in effect being allowed to commit crime and escape prosecution. He said attempts to raise these issues internally were ignored so he sent a file to local Labour MP Sadiq Khan, a former criminal defence solicitor.
That, he said, is when he came to the attention of the Untouchables. In 2012 he said he was put on restricted duties while the anti-corruption squad looked at prosecuting him under the Official Secrets Act.
It wouldn’t have taken much to discover Williams’ use of prostitutes left him vulnerable to at least disciplinary action. The Untouchables mounted a covert operation against him that ultimately led to his arrest and suspension in 2014 and the collapse of his marriage.
“Their case is that I committed offences with prostitutes whilst a police officer. That isn’t against the law. It would only be against the law if I was acting as a police officer while doing it, whereas all the stuff I was doing was as a private individual. If I was a vice cop and I’d met these women through being a police officer then fair enough. But I didn’t. They didn’t know I was old bill at all. It doesn’t matter if you are on duty or not. I did it on duty and off duty. It’s whether it was in the course of your duty,” he told The Upsetter.
Williams was now fighting off criminal prosecution and disciplinary matters. In 2016, he launched an employment tribunal claim of victimisation for blowing the whistle on corruption he had witnessed since his time on the Flying Squad.
In December 2018 he passed his statement to the IOPC. But the watchdog allowed the Untouchables to take control and in January 2020 they found “no evidence” to support Williams.
Had the IOPC and Untouchables upheld the complaint it would have had a bearing on Williams’ whistleblowing defence.
In any event, around Christmas 2020 the trial judge Michael Grieve QC allowed Williams to put his whistleblowing defence in front of the jury when the trial started in May 2021.
What the police and its supposed watchdog had successfully suppressed was going to be aired in open court with Williams as the ringmaster asking Flying Squad detectives and prosecutors very awkward questions about an alleged cover up and potential miscarriages of justice.
Williams was going to make it as nasty as he could and in effect put policing serious crime on trial.
But before he could do that, and after discussions at the highest level, prosecutors threw in the towel on 8 March.
Kevin Wishart had got to hear about Williams from a mutual legal contact and made a complaint to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) which, with increasingly less resources, is supposed to examine possible miscarriages of justice.
It was very rare for serving police officers to give evidence about alleged corruption in their force. But after consulting with the Untouchables and the IOPC, the CCRC told Wishart on 29 September 2020 that while Williams’ statement was “fresh evidence” its content was either known at the time of the trial or had no bearing on the safety of his conviction.
Williams was willing to speak to the CCRC, which felt “it would not be reasonable to do so.” The word of the Untouchables and IOPC was enough, it seemed.
Wishart has now alerted the House of Commons home affairs select committee which is currently examining the effectiveness and independence of police regulation in the UK.
“We now have the whistle-blower statement so we now have our own participating informant so let’s see how that feels for them!”
Word From ‘The Commander’
Chris McCormack, it appears, has been monitoring events from afar.
Wishart had emerged from prison in 2007 convinced his former friend was the informant. So it was a surprise when the Commander got in touch soon after The Sunday Express published the first expose on the case in February 2020.
“Hello Kev,” McCormack emailed. “Saw your case in the paper. Looks like justice at last. Well done mate. Good luck with the case, these police are a disgrace. They’ll do anything to protect their conspiracy. Keep fighting, you are nearly there.”