Supergrass exposes Yard corruption

The Sunday Times - by David Leppard, Jason Burke, Christopher Hastings

12th October 1997

A former detective has become Scotland Yard's first police ‘supergrass’ after alleging wide-ranging and serious corruption that could implicate up to 50 former colleagues.

The allegations have been made by Duncan Hanrahan, who is being kept in a ‘supergrass suite’ for his own safety while helping to expose what some officers say is the Yard’s biggest corruption scandal for more than 20 years.

Hanrahan is thought to know about cocaine distribution by a network of policemen, the soliciting of bribes to destroy evidence in prosecutions and the sale to criminals of confidential information from the police national computer.

Interviews with several of his close friends and lawyers with knowledge of the case reveal he is making statements about the role said to have been played by police in the unsolved brutal murder of a private investigator who was threatening to expose dozens of corrupt officers in the Metropolitan police.

Last week Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan police commissioner, caused fresh controversy when he told a meeting of officers that there was “a significant minority” of criminals serving in his force. “Some of these rogue officers are committing serious offences,” he said.

Jack Straw, the home secretary, and senior officers including Condon, are determined to root out corruption in all the 52 British police forces.

Hanrahan, 39, a former detective constable from south London, was questioned earlier this year over an unrelated case.

The supergrass suite at a secret south London location, where he is being kept, is nicknamed ‘the Dorchester’ and is said by police informants to be a fully furnished apartment with satellite television and a telephone.

A lawyer close to the case said Hanrahan had become the first police officer to turn supergrass on corruption in the ranks. “He has rolled over big-time and is now implicating dozens of officers,’ said another source.

Investigators believe Hanrahan has vital information about the murder of Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who was found with an axe in his head in a south London pub car park 10 years ago.

One former detective, a friend of Hanrahan, said the supergrass had told him that Morgan was murdered because he was threatening to expose the involvement of police officers in organising robberies and moonlighting for private security companies. There is no suggestion that Hanrahan was involved in the killing.

Chris Smith, the secretary for culture, media and sport and constituency MP of Morgan’s brother, is so concerned about the murder that he will meet Condon next month to demand a new police inquiry.

Smith said the situation was very unsatisfactory. “Where you have an unsolved murder and serious questions have been raised about the actions of individual police officers, it needs further investigation,” he said. “I'm anxious to get the matter reopened.’

Alastair Morgan, the victim’s brother, said he, too, hoped that Condon would reopen the case. “My brother Danny was murdered because he was going to expose police corruption and I believe the Metropolitan police have been involved in covering that up,” he said.

Since moving into the supergrass suite four months ago, Hanrahan has been extensively debriefed by senior officers from the Complaints Investigation Bureau, the Yard's anti-corruption squad.

Hanrahan is understood to know about officers selling secrets from the police national computer. One of his former colleagues is Detective Constable Nigel Graystone, who was suspended following an inquiry into the sale of police secrets to outsiders.

Two months ago Graystone offered to sell details of criminal records to an undercover Sunday Times reporter. He has since left the force, thus avoiding a disciplinary inquiry. But sources say he has stayed in contact with a network of officers, former officers and private security consultants, who are said to have access to information from the computer.

The anti-corruption squad is also keen to press Hanrahan on his knowledge of officers who are alleged to have been involved in the sale and distribution of cocaine.

The Sunday Times has established that Hanrahan knows two detectives - both of whom cannot be named for legal reasons - alleged to be linked to drug-dealing. Last week one of the men admitted his home had been raided by police following allegations that he had been involved in buying and selling cocaine and heroin.

The detective, who retired from the force more than a year ago after repeatedly being questioned over criminal offences, admitted he had links with Joseph Wilkins, a former West End nightclub owner who is wanted by Scotland Yard after escaping from a British prison where he was serving a 10-year sentence for drug importation offences. The former officer said Wilkins had approached him last year to ask him to transport a shipment of drugs from London to Scotland. He said he refused.

Equally worrying for Condon is evidence that some of his men have received death threats from others in the force who are concerned that they are speaking out. Witnesses have also been intimidated.

Hanrahan is also understood to have named a former Scotland Yard commander as being linked to a network of corrupt officers. Last week the retired commander said Hanrahan had contacted him with the allegation. “I rang the Yard to let them know where they could contact me if they wanted to talk to me about anything,” he said. “They said I had nothing to worry about.”

Scotland Yard officials emphasise that Hanrahan’s evidence has not yet led to the formal opening of a new investigation. However, his contribution is thought to be proving invaluable to the biggest drive against corruption at the Yard since Operation Countryman in the 1970s, when hundreds of CID officers were forced to resign.

The anti-corruption initiative is likely to grow because some officers under suspicion are understood to be preparing dossiers on their corrupt colleagues to use in their defence if they are arrested or charged.

Scotland Yard yesterday declined to clarify the extent of the information being given by Hanrahan. A spokesman said there was nobody under police protection or armed guard. Lawyers say Hanrahan is technically under the protection of the prison service.

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