The long-awaited report into the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan could link Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to the suspects behind the killing.
The official inquiry into Morgan’s death is due to publish its report on Tuesday – and has sent warning letters to those expected to come in for criticism, The Guardian reported.
One letter shows the panel investigating the 1987 killing has been weighing up whether to describe the News of the World tabloid as being “linked to the criminality associated with the murder”.
Murdoch’s group, News UK, told the newspaper that it had not received any letter from the panel, and said it had co-operated with the inquiry – a claim which Morgan’s family dispute.
‘I don’t expect justice’
Alastair Morgan, who now represents his family as spokesperson, told The London Economic earlier this month: “The case has been so messed up over so many decades that I think a trial at this point would depend on people confessing to a crime, which I don’t think would happen.
“I do not expect any justice in the term that we use, namely that the perpetrator of the crime is brought to justice and punished.
“I know a lot of people who imagine and who are hoping for prosecutions after the publication of the report – but I’m not holding my breath for that.”
Morgan, 37, was found dead in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, in 1987, having suffered a fatal axe wound to the back of his head.
Despite five separate investigations – in which charges were levelled against suspects – and a collapsed trial, no one has ever been convicted of the murder, which is believed to have been linked to the private detective’s awareness of high-level corruption within the Metropolitan Police.
The panel appointed by ministers to investigate the killing has looked into claims that at least two of those connected with the killing worked for the News of the World, which was owned by Murdoch at the time.
The tabloid was shuttered in 2011, amid concerns about its ethics and practices following the phone-hacking scandal.
The News of the World employed one of the suspects in Morgan’s killing, paying him £150,000 in a single year – after he had become a suspect.
It also regularly used a private detective agency called Southern Investigations, which Morgan had run jointly with Jonathan Rees. Two executives from the paper set up a business registered at Southern Investigations’ address, the Guardian reported.
‘Linked to criminality’
The panel was reportedly considering describing the former Sunday tabloid as being “linked to the criminality associated with the murder of Daniel Morgan”, in letters seen by the newspaper.
Priti Patel last month shocked the panel by insisting on reviewing the report prior to its publication, claiming that it might damage national security or contravene human rights legislation.
In a statement, News UK told the Guardian: “We have cooperated with and assisted the panel during their investigation. No communication has been received from the panel as part of their advance notice of criticism process.
“The suggestion that there has been any attempt by News UK to influence or delay the report’s publication is entirely without foundation and false.”