The collapse of a high-profile murder trial over evidential questions poses uncomfortable questions for the police. But the case is of much wider significance, since it poses equally difficult questions for the prime minister, for his former press secretary, Andy Coulson, and for all those at News International who have stuck to their claim that no one in the company – bar one rotten apple – had any knowledge of illegal behaviour by, or on behalf of, its journalists.
Jonathan Rees, who was yesterday cleared of murdering his former business partner, Daniel Morgan, is a private investigator of a particularly unpleasant and vindicative kind. In the late 1990s he was working for the News of the World, paid as much as £150,000 a year to use his dark arts to illegally trawl for personal information on the paper's targets. The work, which included bribing police officers, came to the attention of Scotland Yard's anti-corruption team, who bugged his office for six months. In December 2000 his newspaper work – which included work for the Mirror Group – came to a sudden and enforced halt when he was jailed for seven years after being caught planting cocaine on a woman. The aim was to discredit her prior to divorce hearings