Jonathan Rees is a private investigator, and former partner of Daniel Morgan.
Born in Yorkshire, served in the merchant navy before becoming a private investigator. In 1984, with partner Daniel Morgan, he set up a detective agency, Southern Investigations, in Thornton Heath, Surrey.
Murder of Daniel Morgan
In April 1987, Rees was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Daniel Morgan but was released without charge.
Between Morgan's death in 1987 and 2008, five police inquiries were conducted. There were allegations of police corruption, drug trafficking and robbery.
After an inquiry by Hampshire police in 1988, Jonathan Rees and another man were charged with murder, but the case did not reach trial when charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence. and the Hampshire inquiry's 1989 report to the Police Complaints Authority found "no evidence whatsoever of police involvement in the murder".
In 1998, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Roy Clark conducted a third, secret, inquiry into the murder during which Southern Investigations’ office was bugged. In December 2000, Jonathan Rees was found guilty of conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman in order to discredit her in a child custody battle and sentenced to seven years imprisonment for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
After the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair declared that the first police inquiry - that had included Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery, stationed at Catford police station - was "compromised", a secret fifth inquiry, began. Later, police arrested Jonathan Rees and several other on suspicion of murder, along with a serving police officer suspected of leaking information.
The case involved some of the longest legal argument submitted in a trial in the English criminal courts. Nicholas Hilliard QC, for the prosecution, said that defence lawyers might not be able to examine all the documents in the case (750,000 pages dating back over 24 years) in order to ensure a fair trial.
2011 News of the World "investigative journalism" scandal
After the collapse of the Old Bailey trial in March 2011 it was revealed that Jonathan Rees had earned £150,000 a year from the News of the World for supplying illegally obtained information about people in the public eye.
After Rees completed his prison sentence for perverting the course of justice, he had been hired again by the News of the World, at the time edited by Andy Coulson. Rees worked regularly on behalf of the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, as well as the News of the World, investigating the bank accounts of the royal family, and obtaining information on other public figueres. He had a network of contacts with corrupt police officers, who obtained confidential records for him. He was routinely able to obtain confidential data from bank accounts, telephone records, car registration details and computers. He was also alleged to have commissioned burglaries on behalf of journalists.
In June 2011 The Guardian newspaper, calling for a public inquiry into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, focused its criticism of the parent company News Corporation's handling of accusations of criminality within the organisation on the newspaper's use of Jonathan Rees's investigative services. Rees's activities were described as a "devastating pattern of illegal behaviour", and far exceeding those of any of the other investigators commissioned by News Corporation who used illicit means to target prominent figures. They included unauthorised access to computer data and bank accounts, corruption of police officers and alleged commissioning of burglaries. The Guardian queried why the Metropolitan Police had chosen to exclude a very large quantity of Rees material from investigation by its Operation Weeting inquiry into phone hacking.
The Guardian had published extensively on Rees’s involvement with corrupt police officers and the procurement of confidential information for what Guardian journalist Nick Davies described as Rees's one "golden source" of income in particular, commissions from the News of the World. Davies has reported at length on what he described as the "empire of corruption" that Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery built in the years following Daniel Morgan's murder, after Fillery replaced Morgan as Rees's partner.
- Hugh Muir and Duncan Campbell "DNA may solve killing that shamed Met", The Guardian, 20 November 2006], accessed 7 July 2011
- Sandra Laville "Daniel Morgan Axe Murder Case: timeline", guardian.co.uk website, 11 March 2011], accessed 7 July 2011
- Martin Brunt "Ex-Detective Held Over Axe Murder", Sky.com News Archive, 22 April 2008], accessed 7 July 2011
- Nick Davies and Vikram Dodd "Murder trial collapse exposes News of the World links to police corruption", guardian.co.uk website, 11 March 2011], accessed 7 July 2011
- Nick Davies "Jonathan Rees’ empire of corruption", The Guardian, 12 March 2011], accessed 9 July 2011
- Editorial: "Phone-hacking scandal: Time for a public inquiry" The Guardian, 10 June 2011], accessed 9 July 2011