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DANIEL MORGAN MURDER: Former cop says Met made him 'scapegoat' over collapse of prosecution

A FORMER detective who led the last investigation into one of the Met Police's most notorious unsolved murders claims the force is "institutionally corrupt" and has made him a "scapegoat for failings by the force" that saw the prosecution collapse.

Former DCS David Cook (above) has made a criminal complaint against the Met Police alleging it perverted the course of justice through a series of acts he claims intended to make him the fall guy for the collapse of the 2011 trial of suspects for the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan more than 34 years ago.

Mr Morgan's body was found by his BMW in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, South London, on March 10, 1987, with an axe in his head.

Mr Cook was senior investigating officer on the fifth investigation into the murder that started in 2006.

Four earlier investigations, which had seen serving police officers arrested on suspicion of the murder, did not lead to any charges, and the original inquiry was mired in claims of corruption from the start.

In April 2008 Jonathan Rees, Mr Morgan’s business partner in PI firm Southern Investigations, his brothers-in-law Garry and the late Glenn Vian, and James Cook, the suspected getaway driver, were charged with the murder.

Former Det Sgt Sid Fillery, who led the original investigation and failed to disclose his association with Mr Rees, was also charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

By March 2011 all charges were dropped following a defence abuse of process application over evidence disclosure.

The defence also alleged David Cook rehearsed evidence with prosecution "supergrass" witness Gary Eaton, who claimed to have been at the pub on the night of the murder after being asked to go there by the killers in what he claimed was an attempt to set him up.

A criminal well known to Glenn Vian had separately given other officers, while in prison for other offences, a statement saying if he had been out at the time of the murder, he believed he would have tried to "fit him up" by inviting him to the pub the night it happened to create a false suspect.

Mr Cook is expected to be criticised in a long-awaited report by an independent panel, set up to look at failings and alleged corruption surrounding the case, which was expected to be published later this month, until Home Secretary Priti Patel announced yesterday its contents will be reviewed by the Home Office first.

He claims it is because the Met dragged out investigations into his conduct and withheld evidence from a separate civil malicious prosecution case brought by the defendants.

Speaking publicly about the case for the first time, Mr Cook said: "There is so much more to this. I think the Met is institutionally corrupt.

"I absolutely refute that I ever coached Gary Eaton, this could not be further from the truth.

"This was all based on a supposition drawn from telephone billing that I had voluntarily supplied.

He said his phone bill showed a number of calls from his phone to Gary Eaton's that hadn't been logged.

He said: "It was me returning his calls. In hindsight, I should have logged them, but when you are on a

busy case and you say you will call someone back in ten minutes, it is easily done."

He said in 2006 he had informed senior management Mr Eaton had been making contact with him.

In 2012, The Met conducted a review of what went wrong in the prosecution and they found no suggestion of any criminal conduct by Mr Cook.

However, in November 2014 he was then placed under criminal investigation for perverting the course of justice.

In the meantime Mr Rees, Mr Fillery and the Vians launched their civil claim against the force, with the "witness coaching" allegation a central theme.

Mr Cook added: "For two years the Met didn't even speak to me.

"Then in September 2016 they said they wanted me to make a witness statement for the civil case, which I couldn't do as I was under criminal investigation, but they failed to tell the court, so it gave the court the impression I was being obstructive."

He said the Met then dropped the criminal case against him and asked again for him to be a witness in the civil case, but he declined, because the force would not disclose material he sought to rely on.

This included phone records for Gary Eaton's phone that he claimed would prove his account and a statement from Mr Eaton saying he was never coached.

Mr Cook said these were never disclosed during the civil or criminal cases.

In July 2018 the Court of Appeal allowed the claim and Mr Rees and the Vians were awarded collectively £414,000 after the judgement branded Mr Cook's actions with Mr Eaton as malicious.

He added: "They needed a scapegoat. With hindsight, I could perhaps have done things differently during the investigation but there were substantial organisational failures that were not of my making.

"There was no process or procedure if someone walked in off the street and said they wanted to be a supergrass.

Criminal investigations into Mr Cook resumed after the civil case, but he was told he would face no action in September 2019.

Mr Cook, who met with an officer investigating his complaint last week. believes the case is now so tainted it would be impossible to secure any convictions.

He also said freemasonry posed a big problem for the previous investigations.

In 2002, during the fourth investigation, everyone involved in the case had to declare if they were freemasons or not, he said.

Just two officers, who declared they were freemasons, were allowed to remain on the investigative team, Mr Cook said.

He said: "They were paired up with women officers, because women were not allowed to join a lodge, and they stayed together at all times while on the case."

A Met Police spokeswoman said: "In June 2020 the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) referred a complaint to us in relation to MPS actions during civil proceedings brought by Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian, and Garry Vian. "Officers engaged with the complainant in an attempt to resolve the matter. "This was unsuccessful. "A further assessment has been carried out and it has now been allocated to a Detective Superintendent who will complete an assessment and identify appropriate next steps."

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