Channel Four whitewash drama to turn corrupt cop into whistleblowing hero
Channel 4 is developing a “true crime drama” that whitewashes the corruption of the senior detective who investigated the notorious axe murder of Daniel Morgan.
The trial of four suspects for the 1987 murder of the south London private investigator collapsed in 2011 after details of corrupt acts by detective chief superintendent David Cook emerged in court.
Since then further evidence of Cook’s persistent and varied misconduct has emerged in a successful damages claim brought by the defendants.
Six high court judges found he had perverted the course of justice by coaching the evidence of key witnesses to secure convictions.
Finally, an independent inquiry concluded last summer that the Metropolitan police and prosecutors should have prosecuted Cook but protected him instead.
Sections of the media have also protected Cook but for very different reasons. He was their key source for a story deemed more important than Morgan’s murder – the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s UK media empire.
Despite compelling evidence of Cook’s corruption, production companies are now trying to dry clean the corrupt cop as a hero of the hacking story.
A multi-part “psychological drama” for Channel 4 aims to retell the Morgan murder from the “perspective” of Cook and his ex-wife, Jacqui Hames, a former police officer and now board member of an anti-Murdoch pressure group.
The drama proposal, entitled Collapse, has been kept from the Morgan family but was passed to The Upsetter by a concerned source.
It portrays Cook as someone “pushed to his limit” and “forced to make flawed but understandable choices at huge emotional cost.”
The drama is being developed by Indefinite Films, who previously made Murder in the Carpark, a three-part docudrama on the Morgan case which was shown on Channel 4 in 2020.
The broadcaster said:
“Our experience working on the three-part factual series, Murder in the Carpark, means we are fully aware of the circumstances relating to the case, the failed prosecution and the individuals involved.”
Aware maybe, but the docudrama downplayed Cook’s corruption and ignored vital admissions about his dishonourable motives.
For example, Cook made several failed suicide bids while in charge of the
Morgan case. But instead of stepping down, he coached witnesses to give evidence against suspects who he believed, but could not prove, were guilty.
He was also secretly writing a book with a Murdoch journalist that cast him as a hero in his own hagiography. The top cop hoped to cash in on the Morgan murder so he could pay off mounting debts after Hames divorced him.
My Enemy’s Enemy
Exposing so-called ‘noble cause corruption’ – the fitting up of career criminals and ethnic minorities who the police suspect are factually guilty or they have simply picked on – has been a staple of investigative reporting and great crime drama.
In another Liberal media universe, a mentally unstable cop who fitted up suspects while hoping to cash in with a movie deal about his heroics would be ripe for condemnation by the great and the good.
But these were strange times where bastions of the liberal media were in bed with the same crooked cop and an unapologetic racist and sadomasochist with deep pockets.
‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’ was the guiding principle behind this unusual alliance, and in this instance the enemy was and remains Murdoch and the tabloid press.
The Daniel Morgan murder and the family’s campaign for justice had been largely ignored by journalists and film makers until the tantalising link to the phone hacking scandal dawned on them.
Prime suspects – Jonathan Rees, Morgan’s business partner, and Sid Fillery, an ex-Met detective who joined the firm after the murder – conducted dark arts for tabloids, principally the Murdoch-owned News of The World.
The Met has controlled the narrative on the Morgan case with the help of tame crime hacks who allowed it to claim undefined “corruption” had undermined the first murder inquiry.
The narrative goes that since the mid-1990s a new breed of corruption-busting cops were on the case. But their failure to solve Morgan’s murder was down to a corrupt inner circle of bent cops and tabloid hacks working with Rees and Fillery.
Murder in the Carpark promoted this narrative with Cook as an honest cop driven to do right by the Morgan family and a hatred of The News of The World for putting his own family under surveillance.
Now the same production company, run by Bruce Goodison and Kate Cook (no relation), want to go further with a new ‘true crime’ drama that justifies his corruption as “understandable” because he blew the whistle on the Murdoch media empire.
The film makers have been trying to get the Morgan family on side, but have not shown them their Channel 4 proposal, which is littered with errors.
Understandably, after years of being ignored, the Morgan family initially welcomed the sudden media attention during the phone hacking scandal.
But it is also becoming clear that Daniel’s murder is seen as a sort of media MacGuffin for the story journalists and film makers really want to tell – the fall of the house of Murdoch.
Sources say the family have tired of the media looking to cash in on their 35-year campaign by using the axe murder as “ancillary spice” for the phone hacking story. “They’re like rats nibbling around the edges of Daniel’s murder,” said one. Another described the proposal as a “dishonest” representation of the known facts.
Indefinite Films did not respond to questions. Cook refuses to be interviewed by The Upsetter and Hames did not comment on whether she has any involvement with the drama project as a paid consultant or otherwise.
The Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (DMIP) sat for 8 years, sifting over one million pages. Its verdict on Cook is eviscerating.
In a statement launching the report last June, the Panel said:
“The family of Daniel Morgan has suffered grievously as a consequence of the failure to bring his murderer or murderers to justice, the unwarranted assurances which they were given, the misinformation which was put into the public domain, and the denial of the failings in investigation, including failing to acknowledge professional incompetence, individuals’ venal behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures.
We believe that concealing or denying failings, for the sake of an organisation’s public image is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit, and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.”
Cook’s venal behaviour and its cover up is laid out over 1250 pages. But Indefinite Films and Channel 4 appear intent on peddling an against-the-odds drama about a hero whistleblower taking on Murdoch. Again, the inconvenient facts do not support this narrative.
The News of The World certainly put Cook and Hames briefly under surveillance after he fronted a Crimewatch appeal about the Morgan murder in 2002. This was likely done, the DMIP report concluded, as a favour to the prime suspects.
But this tabloid surveillance does not justify pulling a veil around Cook’s own corruption in undermining the Morgan murder trial.
It was The News of The World of course who six years later in 2008 outed Max Mosley for enjoying a concentration camp themed BDSM orgy with women dressed in stripped pyjamas who he beat, and others who inspected him for lice, shaved his arse then beat it until blood was drawn.
Mosley, the unapologetic supporter of his father’s fascism and racism, was incensed by the exposure and reinvented himself as a media reformer and benefactor with deep pockets of personal and inherited wealth.
He went on to successfully sue The News of The World in a privacy action and backed potential claimants against Murdoch, including those whose phone messages were listened to – the so-called phone hacking scandal.
Murdoch responded by closing down the tabloid in 2011 and threw his reporters and their sources under the bus, passing emails to the Met investigation into the scandal.
Mosley continued to finance various pressure groups, such as Hacked Off, an alliance of claimant lawyers, enemies of the tabloid press and media rivals.
Like Oswald, his fascist father, Max was also good at propaganda, and used his new found victim status to suggest, without proof, that his enemies in Formula 1 were behind the tabloid sting, which he also inferred was responsible for the suicide of his troubled adult son.
Just before his own death last May, Mosley secretly financed a hagiography of his life that viewers were led to believe was wholly independent. The glowing feature length documentary, Mosley: It’s Complicated, is now available on Netflix, where viewers remain none the wiser that it’s a vanity project.
Actor Hugh Grant, who sits on the board of Hacked Off, appears in the documentary describing Mosley as a smashing bloke and formidable foe.
Grant of course dislikes the tabloid press after they reported his arrest on Sunset Strip for paying a down-trodden black prostitute to give him head – an inglorious moment that in a 2020 BBC documentary on the fall of Murdoch he described as “an escapade”.
Hacked Off greeted Mosley’s death with extensive online eulogies, the most gushing by board chairman Hugh Tomlinson. He’s the QC who an MP recently used parliamentary privilege to name as one of the “amoral” legal minds working for Russian oligarchs to silence critics and rivals.
Tomlinson lectures the media on ethics while trousering huge fees defending the ‘reputation’ of clients such as UK organised crime boss David Hunt, who beats up and threatens journalists, and the recently sanctioned Putin-crony Roman Abramovich, who does not like a bad word said about how he got so rich.
Tomlinson declined to comment or say if he would be resigning from Hacked Off. The pressure group refused to answer questions about its financial relationship with Mosley.
Jacqui Hames joined the Hacked Off board as its poster girl after giving eye-watering evidence to the Leveson inquiry into media standards about The News of The World intrusion. She accepted a generous payment from Murdoch to settle her claim.
Hames and the others at Hacked Off now want a Leveson Two inquiry into police and media relations and cite the Morgan case and DMIP report as a reason why. Hames said on its publication:
“Today’s Report confirms that the Panel considers there to be strong evidence that the way my family and I were targeted by News UK journalists was part of an attempt to deliberately discredit the Morgan murder investigation.
“It is sickening to think that my family’s safety and wellbeing might have been disregarded as part of a plot to protect a murderer from seeing justice – and, in doing so, to prolong the suffering of the Morgan family who have waited so many years for accountability.
“Given what the Panel has found in respect of corrupt relationships between the press and the police, the Second Part of the Leveson Inquiry must be re-established without further delay.”
No doubt for reasons of space there was no mention of the Panel’s conclusion that her ex-husband also discredited the Morgan investigation and prolonged the suffering of the Morgan family by giving them false hope then dashing it on his own corruption and hubris.
The DMIP scrutinised Cook’s crooked relationships as a police officer with the media, which one doubts the Hacked Off lobby would want explored in any Leveson Two hearing.
Reporters, mainly from The Guardian and BBC, have ignored, played down or excused Cook’s corruption, because he was a key source during the phone hacking scandal.
In their coverage of the DMIP report, neither Vikram Dodd and Dan Sabbagh of The Guardian nor Tom Symmonds of the BBC found space to mention Cook’s corruption in their articles on its key findings.
Hacked Off founder, Brian Cathcart, who took a large donation from Mosley to write a history book, separately penned an article in which he highlighted the DMIP report’s strong inference that a News of the World editor had commissioned the surveillance on Cook at the request of a Morgan murder suspect.
Cathcart, a professor of journalism at Kingston University, said the pair “conspired to sabotage a murder investigation by terrifying a police detective and his family.”
The academic was also unable to find space to comment on the large sections of the DMIP report that examined Cook’s corruption in sabotaging the prosecution.
It’s the same story with hactivist Peter Jukes, who rose without trace to make his name tweeting from the hacking trials. He then attached himself to the Morgan family, while pursuing his obsession with the tabloid press.
The DMIP report fingers Jukes as another beneficiary of Cook’s leaks to those too consumed with confirmatory bias and blinded by a loathing of Murdoch to test their source.
Jukes is the main cheerleader for the corrupt cop through his Mosley-funded Byline adventure into journalism and the Untold podcast on the Morgan murder.
It is ironic that this lobby’s demand for accuracy, fair reporting and transparency about funding appears to only be a one way street.
The new drama from Indefinite Films is trying to hang its hat on the premise that Cook’s disclosures to the media were all in the public interest because the Met was covering up its relationship with Murdoch – which it was.
But the whistleblower defence would require an honest exploration of Cook’s motives for starting a secret book project while in charge of the Morgan murder hunt.
It’s worth remembering that Cook was not writing that book with a reporter from the Liberal media. His preferred co-writer was The Daily Mail’s crime editor Stephen Wright. But he ended up working with Mike Sullivan, crime editor of the Murdoch-owned Sun.
Cook and Sullivan became friends and drinking partners and from 2006 onwards thousands of pages of Met documents about the murder probe were secretly emailed to the journalist. All the while, Cook was briefing the useful idiots how much he hated the Murdoch press for what they had done to his family.
Cook claims it was assistant commissioner John Yates who told him to work with The Sun crime editor. The DMIP report said Yates gave conflicting accounts of what he knew about the book.
Cook insists that the arrangement was similar to how BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan would receive leaked documents when Yates was looking for some positive coverage of the Met’s anti-corruption work during the fall out over the Stephen Lawrence murder.
McLagan reciprocated with a breathless Panorama documentary and a gushing book. On retirement, his shoes appear to have been filled by Glen Campbell, whose dealings with Cook are also laid out in the DMIP report.
Leaks are the lifeblood of journalism and corrupt cops can tell the truth about matters of public interest. But it is also the job of journalists to understand the agenda behind the leaks. Why me? Why now? And when their source is exposed as being corrupt on the scale of Dave Cook, the public interest does not lie in ignoring, downplaying or excusing it.
The media friends of Cook and Hames have sought to aid his rehabilitation as a Hacked Off hero, when in truth his misconduct cost the Morgan family justice and the taxpayer millions of pounds in wasted costs and damages.
The DMIP, set up by Theresa May in 2013 and costing over £16m, was the direct consequence of the collapse of the Morgan murder trial two years earlier and a lack of confidence in the Met to put its house in order.
The Panel’s conclusions point to a cover up of Cook’s corruption by the Met, the Crown Prosecution Service and also sections of the media.
The Morgan murder is the most important scandal of corruption in the police and media and therefore wholly ripe for a multi-part true crime drama. In the hands of honest brokers it would make for compelling television. Collapse is not that drama.
Channel 4 said:
“We do not discuss detail on projects that are in early stages on our development slate at Channel 4. If Channel 4 were to produce a drama regarding the Daniel Morgan case, it would be fairly rooted in fact and would comply with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.”
There is a race on with Nick Davies, the former Guardian reporter whose important work exposed the hacking scandal.
Davies is also developing a TV drama of his book, Hack Attack, research for which was partly done by Jenny Evans, now a development executive at Indefinite Films.
Davies, another defender of Max Mosley, told a Hacked Off event last November that the passive power of Murdoch had scuppered a film of his book optioned in 2014 by George Clooney’s production company. It’s a claim Clooney’s people denied when approached by The Upsetter.
Nevertheless, Netflix and possibly ITV are now interested and Davies has also been in touch with the Morgan family for their buy in.
Just in case the black polo necks from TV land don’t do their homework, here’s the DMIP report’s key findings on Dave Cook and his friendly hacks.
There are a number of claims made by Dave Cook and his media friends which the DMIP report has dismantled.
Chief among them is the idea that Cook was being “silenced” by the Met after the collapse of the murder trial in March 2011.
The theory goes that Cook was gearing up to reveal all at the Leveson inquiry but was unable to speak his truth because from January 2012 until April 2020 he has been “persecuted” by a series of overlapping internal and criminal investigations that could have landed him in prison.
The DMIP report shows that the investigations into Cook were reactive to external pressure, largely coming from the acquitted defendants complaining and seeking damages.
In other words, the Met didn’t set out to investigate Cook after the damning judgement of the trial judge that he had perverted the course of justice.
Secondly, none of those Met investigations recommended charges and the CPS did some mind-boggling legal gymnastics to protect Cook from prosecution.
It should not be forgotten that Cook had let it be known that he would not go quietly. The DMIP report shows the Met and CPS hung together.
The protection Cook has enjoyed started on the day the trial collapsed.
On 11 March 2011, DCS Hamish Campbell of the Met read a statement outside the Old Bailey citing disclosure failures as the cause of the collapse. There was no mention of the key role Cook had played in that disclosure failure and in coaching dodgy supergrass witnesses.
Days later the Met told the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) it would be working with the CPS to do a joint Review of the case over the summer of 2011.
The Home Office used the joint Review announcement as reason to refuse an independent inquiry that the Morgan family and MPA had requested.
Cook misled the DMIP about his interaction with the joint Review team. He claimed his interview was cut short as soon as he started mentioning the corruption of senior detective Barry Phillips, who ran the unit responsible for debriefing supergrass witnesses.
The DMIP looked into Cook’s claim and concluded he had not been silenced and furthermore there was “no evidence” Phillips was corrupt.
Phillips told The Upsetter that Cook was “having afters” by making false allegations against him to divert attention over his coaching of the supergrasses James Ward and Gary Eaton, which had led the murder trial judge to exclude their evidence.
We now know that senior prosecutor Nicholas Hilliard believed that Ward, Eaton and other criminals used in the Morgan prosecution were not properly tested as witnesses of truth before the Met accepted them into the supergrass system.
The rush is not just Cook’s fault, but a failing by assistant commissioner John Yates as overall boss of the Morgan case.
Ward and Eaton were turned into supergrasses without proper checks and presented to the Morgan family as the “golden thread” to solve the case in the absence of forensic or other evidence.
A new law had come in to prevent past corruption scandals, where criminal supergrasses had given evidence in return for a light sentence and after undocumented contact with coppers.
Yates knew all about this from his previous work in the anti-corruption squad, yet Cook was given freedom to exploit weaknesses in the new supergrass system and in his haste to solve the case prompted witnesses into naming the five suspects.
Cook says he had no choice but to field phone calls from Eaton, a mentally ill criminal with a propensity to lie, please and embellish. But it doesn’t explain why he took no notes.
The DMIP also concluded that “Cook contacted Eaton on multiple occasions, despite having agreed not to do so” and that “Yates and others were aware of the extent of some, at least, of the unauthorised contact.”
Cook and his media friends have long claimed the murder trial collapsed over disclosure issues, as if this had nothing to do with their man. Again, the facts show otherwise.
The CPS joint Review described its disclosure strategy as: “Keep it simple, reduce amounts.”
This approach to such a complex case is questionable given the over 750,000 documents generated since the murder in 1987 that needed to be reviewed to see if they were disclosable to the defence.
The prosecution’s disclosure barrister, Heather Stangoe, felt there was “pressure” from the Met to charge the suspects. Cook, the DMIP report says, wanted it done before the prosecution team had reviewed all disclosable documents.
He won the day. But had the prosecution lawyers reviewed the documents showing how Ward and Eaton came to make witness statements, it would have exposed Cook’s pattern of undocumented contact and raised questions about their suitability as witnesses of truth.
The DMIP report further concluded that it was Cook who decided in 2007 that 18 crates of highly significant police documents were “not relevant” to the defence and had them returned to storage.
In 2009, the court was misled that the same material was still not relevant when it clearly undermined the credibility of Ward in particular.
It was only in 2010, after a defence barrister came across a record of the 18 crates, that they were disclosed.
These disclosure failures, on top of Cook’s prompting of supergrass witnesses, is what undermined the murder trial and caused prosecution barristers to throw in the towel in March 2011.
However, the joint Review by the Met and CPS, whose terms of reference were set by Cressida Dick and Alison Saunders respectively, deliberately did not look into these matters. The DMIP report described the Review as:
“a further example of the failure to face up to and admit major failings in the Met police investigative process.”
This damning verdict on Met and CPS collusion was the first attempt to protect Cook and would be repeated time and time again.
The Cook fan club claims that his arrest on 10 January 2012 was engineered to stop him appearing at the Leveson inquiry to give evidence about the relationship between Murdoch’s tabloids and the Met.
Firstly, the Met could have thrown Cook to the wolves months earlier in 2011 but didn’t. Here’s what happened.
That year detectives came across an email that Cook had sent to The Sun crime editor Mike Sullivan with whom he was secretly writing a book on the Morgan case.
The date of the email – 10 March 2011 – is significant. It was the 24th anniversary of the Morgan murder and the trial was hours from collapsing at the Old Bailey.
Yet here was Cook sending confidential information to Sullivan contained in an email from the Morgan family’s lawyer to assistant commissioner John Yates.
A Met operation codenamed Elvedon was already looking into payments by journalists to public officials. This was a spin off from the hacking scandal after lawyers acting for Murdoch shamelessly turned over reporters’ emails to the Met with little regard for sources.
Sullivan was a suspect in Operation Elvedon but Cook’s email to him was not passed on.
Instead, on 26 May 2011, after discussing it with Yates, Met Commander Simon Foy gave Cook an “informal verbal warning” without having his computer examined for further email evidence.
As we’ve seen, Cook maintains Yates told him to work with Sullivan on the book. Weeks after the decision not to report the detective and the journalist to Operation Elvedon, Yates resigned from the Met over the phone hacking scandal.
As much as the Met tried to protect Cook, matters were taken out of its hands in January 2012 when the police watchdog learned that Cook had passed sensitive material to Sullivan in over 500 emails from August 2006 to September 2011.
The Sun reporter was emailed personal details of individuals and told when arrests would take place. In one email with sensitive attachments about the arrest of a suspect’s wife, Cook wrote:
“She will never get charged but you could almost turn this into part of a chapter on its own right with a bit of wordsmithing.”
In another, a year after the five suspects were charged, Cook wrote:
“The book will allow me to put over my or the police side of events … Yes any money accrued from the book would also be an advantage … but I do not anticipate that I/we will become rich out of it unless of course there is a movie deal of some sort.”
Also in 2009, Cook emailed Sullivan that he had told “Jacqui” he was moving boxes of confidential police material to The Sun reporter’s brother’s house. Hames declined to discuss her knowledge of this or the book project.
And in a email with sensitive attachments that he sent during the pre-trial hearing in 2010, Cook wrote:
“The project is lodged in my mind about hoping to get something out of this otherwise I am saddled with a mortgage that I neither want or need.”
Armed with all this evidence, the police watchdog launched an independent investigation and on 10 January 2012 had Thames Valley Police arrest Cook at home for misconduct in a public office and data protection offences. The “charred remains” of what looked like intelligence material was found in a dustbin.
Cook gave no comment when interviewed under caution. Later in 2012 he made prepared statements giving an incredible insight into his state of mind and marriage to Hames while in charge of the Morgan murder.
He said he had made three suicide attempts as the marriage deteriorated. Their collapse started in April 1999 with the murder of Jill Dando, who presented Crimewatch with Hames.
The date is significant because when the couple successfully sued Murdoch for The News of The World surveillance, that had occurred over the summer of 2002, their lawyers had claimed in October 2011:
“Both Mr Cook and Ms Hames suffered acute distress and both received treatment for the same. The distress caused by the surveillance and covert information gathering exercise was the predominant reason for the separation … The breakdown in the relationship was caused by the acts complained of, given the position that the claimants were in immediately before the acts complained of took place.”
Hames declined to say what she believed was the predominant reason for the collapse of their marriage.
Returning to Cook’s revealing account to the police watchdog in 2012, he said Hames was “profoundly affected” by the assassination of Dando and consequently security measures were increased around the family home.
The couple tried to sell the Surrey house for £500,000 but the property market crashed after the September 11 terror attack.
In early 2002, Cook was put in charge of all murders in the west of London. But his marriage was falling apart and the house was back on the market, which was far less depressed than him.
Cook’s mood lifted, however, in June 2002 when senior Met officers asked him to front a new murder hunt for Morgan’s killers and appear on a BBC Crimewatchappeal.
Cook was flattered. But the next day, the police told him of an intercepted phone call suggesting a plot between a suspect and a News of The World executive to look into him. The surveillance and blagging of Hames’ personal details followed shortly thereafter.
The Met put further security measures around the family home and sent Hames to an expensive clinic for treatment. Cook claimed his wife was concerned the BBC would discover her depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and sack her from Crimewatch.
Yet despite the effect on her mental health, Cook got further involved in the Morgan case despite the risks. And in November 2002 he asked the Met to buy the family home that the couple couldn’t sell. The Met refused in a rare display of concern for the public purse, but increased security.
Cook now had two gripes against the Met: Firstly for not relocating his family, and then for not taking The News of The World to task over the surveillance.
His first suicide attempt was in 2004, by which time Cook was well immersed in the Morgan case. He made two further attempts when Hames began divorce proceedings in the crucial period from the arrest of the suspects in April 2008 and preparation for the trial.
“Strangely, when I kept failing it just made me worse and on some occasions more determined … I recognise now I was in an extremely bad way at this stage. I wrote letters to my children and put my affairs in order … Fighting the depression and a desire to kill myself was the predominate thought.
It would be fair to say that with the state of my health from 2008/9 there were times when I was not even looking to be alive when [the book] was all finished.”
If Cook was telling the truth about his mental state, he clearly was not fit to run the inquiry and should have stepped down if only out of respect for the Morgan family, who by now fully trusted him.
Instead he carried on and continued writing a book, which he said was, at times, the only thing that kept him alive.
The book project was also an insult to Alastair Morgan, the victim’s brother, who Cook knew was writing his own account of the family’s campaign, one that would paint the Met in a very different light.
Nevertheless, Cook ploughed on typing, leaking and undermining what would be the last chance to solve the murder.
Ultimately, the police watchdog did not buy into Cook’s attempt to excuse his actions. In a closing report in September 2014 it said:
“The conduct of David Cook was entirely self serving and not what the public might reasonably expect.”
The DMIP panel agreed. It concluded:
“The evidence suggests this was not a matter of the failure of professional judgment but was wrongful and unlawful leaking of highly confidential and sensitive information by DCS Cook.”
However, when the watchdog passed its report to the CPS the reception was wholly different.
After requiring more work from the watchdog, which delayed matters until 2015, special prosecutor Adrian Flasher decided it was not in the pubic interest to prosecute Cook for leaking to Sullivan.
Flasher thought Cook was “a man of good character” who could argue he was not acting for financial gain but in the public interest to expose corruption and that his book was an attempt to “set the record straight” on what the special prosecutor called, “the good investigative work of Cook and the Met.”
The DMIP report scoffed at this, saying there was “clear evidence” of Cook’s intention to financially benefit from a “self-serving” book to clear his name. The report went on:
“It is impossible to understand how the special prosecutor could reach the view he did.”
Except for this: Flasher revealed that Yates had made it clear he was against a prosecution of Cook.
The DMIP asked Yates to explain this. The retired cop told them he was “motivated at the time solely by a genuine concern about David Cook’s mental health and wellbeing.”
The day after Cook’s arrest on 10 January 2012, the Met suddenly felt the urge to do something about the trial judge’s finding that the top cop had perverted the course of justice – a criminal offence.
Commander Peter Spindler, boss of the anti-corruption squad, asked a more junior detective to see if there was anything in it.
The minion detective reviewed just three documents before arriving at the view that there was no criminal conspiracy by Cook to get the supergrass Eaton to implicate two of the suspects – brothers Glenn and Garry Vian.
In any event, the minion detective said it would take 18 months to investigate Cook and detective inspector Douglas Clarke, another member of the team, which would not be an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money.
Once again, the DMIP report was unconvinced. It said that coming to this conclusion based on such “inadequate” terms of reference was “not justified.”
Jonathan Rees, the acquitted prime suspect, complained to the police watchdog in late January 2012 that it should investigate Cook for perverting the course of justice and misleading the pre-trial hearing over the coaching of supergrass Gary Eaton.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the police watchdog, was already looking at the leaks from Cook to Sullivan and so began a game of pass the shit sandwich.
The IPCC asked the Met to do the investigation, perhaps unaware Commander Spindler had already decided there was nothing criminal in Cook’s actions, just a bit of poor tradecraft.
The sandwich was returned to the IPCC, after the CPS told the Met it lacked public confidence to examine Rees’ complaint. But the IPCC’s deputy commissioner declined to take it saying, remarkably, that the watchdog was only set up to do a “small number of corruption cases” and was “currently not resourced to carry out many or large corruption enquiries.”
By now Rees’ complaint was an 18-month-old shit sandwich. The IPCC suggested the recently established DMIP should look into the issue. But the Panel declined and so it went back to the Met, which began its probe in January 2014.
Another 18 months later, the investigation, codenamed Operation Megan, finally got round to interviewing supergrass Gary Eaton in July 2015. The protected witness was mentally ill but not stupid and didn’t implicate himself in a criminal conspiracy with Cook to pervert the course of justice.
Instead he came up with a new version of events. Yes, there was corruption in the supergrass debriefing system but not by Cook. He was a good cop and all their dealings had been about welfare not fabricating evidence.
Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, working to assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt, subsequently decided there was “insufficient evidence” to interview Cook and “no evidence” of Eaton having been prompted.
McCormack also concluded that the disclosure problems were explained by the trial being so complex and as there were no criminal offences there was no need to refer anything to the CPS for a charging decision on Cook.
The DMIP panel did not agree. It said McCormack made “no attempt” to find further evidence by speaking to other witnesses and had misrepresented the adverse findings of the trial judge that Cook had prompted Eaton.
In March 2017, the Met was forced to revisit the Eaton matter after four of the five acquitted defendants brought a damages claim for malicious prosecution.
Mr Justice Mitting found for Fillery but against Rees and the Vian brothers. However, he ruled that Cook had perverted the course of justice in his many undocumented contacts with the supergrass Eaton.
Once again detective superintendent McCormack was given the job of investigating, after the IPCC refused to get involved. Once again, she came to the same conclusion in December 2017.
Almost one year later, the CPS agreed no charges would be brought against Cook. Rees, however, was not satisfied and used the CPS appeal system to ask for second legal opinion from the body supposedly independent of the police.
The CPS obliged and gave it to a prosecutor in the north who, in May 2019, upheld the original decision of his colleague down south not to prosecute Cook.
Normally, that would have been that. But Rees and the Vian brothers had appealed Mitting’s decision leading three Appeal Court judges to tear Cook, the Met, CPS and Mitting a new one.
Cook’s actions amounted to malicious prosecution and misfeasance, they ruled. Lady Justice King had no time for Mitting’s view that Cook had not maliciously perverted the course of justice because he genuinely believed the suspects were guilty. It’s like saying Robin Hood was not guilty of theft, she said, adding:
“any endorsement of such dishonest behaviour, particularly with the police, leads to a serious and unacceptable negation of the rule of law.”
In others words, coppers fitting up people they believe are guilty is corruption and cannot be excused.
A sixth high court judge now had to consider the size and type of damages to be paid. In July 2019, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb awarded exemplary damages to the four acquitted men to “highlight and condemn the egregious and shameful behaviour of a senior and experienced police officer”, adding:
“There is no place for any form of ‘noble-cause’ justification for corrupt practices in those trusted to uphold the law.”
Except perhaps in TV drama and among the media friends of Cook.
At every turn, the Met and CPS found ways not to prosecute Cook. Far from being persecuted he was being protected.
By 2020, with the DMIP report imminent, the Met had to find a way of disposing of one last probe into Cook’s skullduggery.
Operation Edison was examining documents “the height of two Eiffel Towers” that had been found on hard drives Cook secreted around his house. This was the sensitive material he had leaked to a coterie of media enablers on the hacking beat.
A batch of documents, some marked ‘Restricted’, were emailed to his ex-wife Jacqui Hames to help the damages claim against Murdoch for the tabloid surveillance. She refused to speak to Operation Edison about this.
She also declined to answer questions from The Upsetter about where the public interest lay in receiving these emails and what she knew about Cook’s wider leaking of sensitive information for his book with a Murdoch journalist.
Hames also refused to comment on the DMIP’s findings about her ex-husband’s corruption.
The Met’s Operation Edison report eventually found its way to CPS special prosecutor Michael Gregory. He relied on the previous CPS opinions to reject any prosecution.
The Met was delighted it could finally tell Cook in April 2020 it was all over. The DMIP was less delighted when they finally got the Edison files.
The report said: “It is clear that the Met did not ensure that a full investigation was conducted” into whether Cook had misconducted himself in a public office.
As for the CPS, the Panel “severely criticised” it for relying on “flawed” advice and failing to fully discharge its duty.
The DMIP report concluded that neither the Met or CPS wanted to prosecute Cook because a massive disclosure of documents would have “caused embarrassment”.
“The imperative was, in part, to protect the reputation of the police rather than to expend resources dealing with the totality of the issue emerging.”
The same could be said of the media friends of Dave Cook.
And so it goes.