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Thu 29 July 2021

James Doleman interviews the man described by the family of Daniel Morgan as the only Metropolitan Police detective they ever trusted

Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, who supervised the fifth and final investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan, has been described by the Morgan family as the only Metropolitan Police detective they ever trusted.

But a trial of the murder suspects in 2011 collapsed because of claims around his handling of ‘supergrass’ witnesses and the weight of undisclosed evidence. Cook was then set to become a core participant in the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press at the beginning of 2012. In an exclusive interview, he tells James Doleman what happened next…

JD: What happened around the Leveson Inquiry in 2012?

DC: In January 2012, I got a knock on the door from the Independent Office for Police Conduct. They started to investigate my relationship with Sun reporter Mike Sullivan. It’s funny because I had really wanted to give evidence at Leveson, but the fact that they had then started to put me under criminal investigation meant that, from the advice of my solicitors, I couldn’t. So it kiboshed me. Do I think there’s a conspiracy theory attached to it? I’m not a lover of conspiracy theories, but the day they came to my door is the day I was put forward as a core participant at Leveson.

So you were effectively silenced. Was that 2012 investigation into you the only one?  

There was an allegation I coerced Gary Eaton (an informant in the Daniel Morgan case), but the Met clearly stated in 2012 there was no criminal misconduct, without any new information or evidence. But in 2014, I had a visit again from the Met Police to my door and they told me I was under investigation for coercing Eaton as a witness – misconduct of public office. I think they wanted an excuse to search my house. They took my laptops and all that away and, two weeks after that, there was another investigation. 

Daniel Morgan’s former business partner, Jonathan Rees, was arrested three times on suspicion of involvement in the murder and launched a case against the Met Police for malicious prosecution. Were you involved?

In 2016, I came up to Scotland and a letter got sent to my partner’s house, asking if I’d be a witness in the civil action of Jonathan Rees – I knew in the distance this was going on but I didn’t know any of the details about it. The Met was investigating me for the very subject they wanted me to make the witness statement about. They said they had a whole list of questions they wanted to ask me about it. But, of course, all of these questions, if you’re under criminal investigation, should only ever be asked under police caution. They failed to tell the court in any regard that I was under criminal investigation for the very subject they wanted me to give evidence about.

Though you never appeared as a witness, Rees won his case for malicious prosecution in 2016? 

Yes. Then, in 2017, despite having previously cleared me and despite the fact there was no new intelligence information or evidence – other than the judgment of a judge who didn’t get to hear my side of the story (in Rees’ civil case) – they decided to conduct another criminal investigation into me. No further action was taken on that as well. 

Do you think all of this is indicative of bungling incompetence or is there more to it than that?

The answer is you’ll never know. You’ve got an organisational agenda and then within an organisation the people and you’ve got so many different agendas.

What did you think about the scrapping of Leveson Part Two?

This is Britain. We in Britain like to look at everyone, but we don’t like to look at ourselves and that is very true of the Government of today and the Metropolitan Police and the press. The Metropolitan Police are great at searching for the truth, as long as searching for the truth doesn’t mean searching within their own organisation. The press is the same – ‘let’s look at everyone else’s position but let’s not look at our own’.

What about the relationship between senior Met Police officers and Rupert Murdoch’s chief executive Rebecca Brooks?

I was completely ignorant of that except when, in 2003, I met with Rebecca Brooks in Scotland Yard on the way up in the lift… it was made clear to me that she’s very close to the Commissioner and she meets with the Commissioner regularly for dinner and I took that as a threat.

Were you surprised that the Home Secretary delayed the publication of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report? 

It if wasn’t on such a serious issue, it would be laughable. Absolutely laughable. You’ve got to look at the much wider issue, the political issue, and the relationship the Conservative Government has with the media again and again, because it lacks so much transparency. You’ve always got this lingering doubt that there’s undue influence being brought to it.

It always seems to be wheels within wheels within wheels, you never quite get a hold of the big picture.

It’s typical of anything to do with the Morgan investigation. Nothing is straightforward in any of the investigations. It’s like a virus. Once it’s in your system, you just can’t get it out, as much as you want to – it just won’t go. 

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