You may have heard the name Daniel Morgan being mentioned in the media recently.
Daniel was a private investigator who would carry out extensive work for the News of the World. He was found murdered in 1987 in a car park with an axe embedded in his head, with no conviction regarding his death.
An independent panel has produced a report of their findings from an inquiry into the death. The panel’s remit was to shine a light on the circumstances of the murder, its background and its handling. In particular, the police involvement, the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible, the failure to confront the corruption, the incidence of connections between private investigators, journalists at News of the World, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them.
The panel started work in 2013 and produced the report early this year. In explaining the length of time taken, the panel said they had not anticipated the significant difficulties and delays and did not receive final documentation from the Metropolitan Police until March 2021.
Several recommendations were made in the report in light of criminal law to address areas where there continue to be serious shortcomings in current policy and practice in policing. Included in them is to ensure necessary resources are allocated to the task of tackling corrupt police behaviour. A statutory duty of candour is suggested to be owed by all law enforcement agencies to those they serve.
The Metropolitan police were said to owe the family of Daniel Morgan and the public an apology for “not confronting its systematic failings, for the failings of individual officers and for its lack of candour to the members of the family”.
The police were described as being institutionally corrupt, and Cressida Dick, the police commissioner, was personally censured for obstructing the independent inquiry set up to review the murder.
Back in 2011, the police accepted that corrupt police officers had protected the killers and that the murder inquiry that had probably been “solvable” was undermined.
The delay in final documentation was the seven-year period that the police refused to provide access to the Holmes accounts to the panel. Holmes is an IT system used by the police for the investigation of major incidents, such as murder. Holmes stands for Home Office Large Major Enquiry System and helps an investigation to be organised and thorough. This was the obstruction caused by Dick, referred to above, as she was the assistant commissioner who initially refused access. It seems that the police were more interested in protecting themselves.
“The Metropolitan police’s culture of obfuscation and a lack of candour is unhealthy in any public service. Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation’s image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit. In the panel’s view this constitutes a form of institutional corruption”.
The report criticised the police for the links to the News of the World, which was relevant due to the newspaper’s link to the victim. “It is appropriate for the Panel to state that the demonstrated links between personnel at the highest levels of the Metropolitan police and people working for a news organisation linked to criminality associated with the murder of Daniel Morgan, are of serous and legitimate public concern.”
The Home Secretary and the London mayor have both said Cressida Dick retains their full confidence. Priti Patel has requested Dick’s response to the report and has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to look at the findings. The Metropolitan police have offered a £50,000 reward for information and a fresh review of the forensic evidence.
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