A murdered private investigator said he was taking a story exposing police corruption, for which he was promised a payment of £40,000, to the News of the World a week before he died, it was claimed last night.
The BBC said it had evidence that Daniel Morgan had said he was to be given the money by Alex Marunchak, the NOTW's former crime editor. Mr Marunchak said last night he had never met Mr Morgan, who was found with an axe in his head in the car park of a south London pub in March 1987.
The revelation is significant because Mr Morgan's business partner, Jonathan Rees, is at the centre of allegations that he supplied stories to the NOTW and other newspapers using sources including corrupt police officers. Mr Rees stood trial for Mr Morgan's murder but was acquitted when the trial collapsed.
Evidence gathered in a police investigation into Mr Rees's activities is now the subject of a separate inquiry by the Met's phone-hacking team. Last night Tom Watson, the MP who has investigated the phone-hacking scandal at length, called for the murder to be re-examined as part of the Leveson hacking inquiry.
Mr Morgan, until his death, worked for Southern Investigations alongside Mr Rees, the private investigator whose company has been linked to alleged email hacking. Mr Rees has stated he did not commission or in any way incite or procure anyone "to hack" any computer.
Mr Rees, along with four other men, was accused in 2008 of murdering Mr Morgan but was acquitted in March of this year. The case collapsed following a legal argument that lasted two years and after three supergrass witnesses had been deemed to be unreliable.
Mr Watson said: "Because we now know that Jonathan Rees had a very close relationship with Alex Marunchak, because we now know about the News of the World and their use of private investigators for covert surveillance and phone hacking, this is all relevant information and evidence that should be used as part of the public inquiry. I think the Leveson inquiry should examine the Daniel Morgan murder and I'm going to write to the PM to ask him to make sure that happens."
In a statement in BBC Radio 4's Report programme, Mr Marunchak said: "I have never met Mr Daniel Morgan and, prior to his death, I had never heard of his business Southern Investigations, nor Mr Morgan's business partner, Jonathan Rees."
The development came as the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced it will open an independent inquiry into allegations that John Yates might have secured a job for the daughter of the former NOTW executive Neil Wallis.
But the IPCC cleared Mr Yates, Sir Paul Stephenson and former Met police officers Peter Clarke and Andy Hayman of carrying out any conduct that breached police disciplinary codes over their roles in the original phone-hacking inquiry.
Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said a distinction had to be made between conduct that was either criminal or amounted to a disciplinary offence and the public concerns over phone hacking which would be investigated during the Leveson inquiry.
She said, however, there were "serious issues that need to be scrutinised" about the links between top police officers and the media.
Sir Paul, who resigned last month, welcomed the watchdog's announcement. The ruling was "as I would have expected it to be", he said, adding that he regretted that resources "have had to be expended on this matter".
Mr Yates, who also resigned last month, said he would co-operate with the independent investigation into allegations that he secured a Scotland Yard job for the daughter of Mr Wallis: "I strongly deny any wrongdoing and I am completely confident that I will be exonerated. I have been entirely open about this matter and I will co-operate fully with the investigation."