A long-awaited report by an independent panel has accused the Metropolitan Police of a “form of institutional corruption” for concealing failings over the unsolved 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.
Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the UK’s largest police force, has been personally censured by the report for her role in hampering an inquiry into police corruption in Morgan’s murder case.
The report said the force’s first objective was to “protect itself” for failing to acknowledge its many failings since Morgan’s murder, the panel’s chairman Baroness Nuala O’Loan said. It accused Scotland Yard of putting concerns about its reputation above a full and thorough investigation, finding that it misled the public and Morgan’s grieving family.
It said that the Met delayed handing over crucial documents, which significantly delayed the work of the panel – which was set up in 2013 but had not been able to report until Tuesday, eight years later.
The report hit out at delays in giving access to a police sensitive database called “Holmes”.
“The panel has never received any reasonable explanation for the refusal over seven years by [then] Assistant Commissioner Dick and her successors to provide access to the Holmes accounts to the Daniel Morgan independent panel,” it said.
This, it added, “caused major delays and further unnecessary distress to the family of Daniel Morgan”.
Morgan, 37, was a private detective based in south London. He ran an agency called Southern Investigations with business partner Jonathan Rees.
On 10 March 1987, he was found murdered in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London, with an ace embedded in his head. Two sticky plaster strips had been wrapped around the axe handle to prevent fingerprint evidence.
Despite five police inquiries and an inquest, no-one has been brought to justice over the father-of-two’s death, with the Metropolitan Police admitting corruption had hampered the original murder investigation.
The Met owes Morgan’s family, and the public, an apology for not confronting its systemic failings and those of individual officers, the report said.
In a statement through their lawyer, the family of Morgan said: “We welcome the recognition that we – and the public at large – have been failed over the decades by a culture of corruption and cover up in the Metropolitan Police, an institutionalised corruption that has permeated successive regimes in the Metropolitan Police and beyond to this day.”
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.”
According to the panel’s website, its remit was to examine “police involvement in Daniel Morgan’s murder, the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice, and the failure to confront that corruption”.
It also set out to look into “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them”.