Met police commissioner 'betrayed Daniel Morgan's family'

Met police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has betrayed Daniel Morgan’s family by ‘lacking candour’ after report into private investigator’s axe murder, panel head says

  • Daniel Morgan was murdered with an axe in a car park in Sydenham, London
  • Despite at least four police investigations and inquest it is still unsolved
  • Today an inquiry into the handling of the case said police had ‘betrayed public’
  • The Met Police has denied that the force is corrupt after the accusation 

Britain’s biggest police force was this morning accused of a ‘betrayal of the public’ in a savage attack from the inquiry probing the unsolved murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.

Chairwoman of the panel Baroness Nuala O’Loan told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee that public statements made by senior officers following its report were ‘most disappointing’. 

It had already accused the Metropolitan Police of institutional corruption over the 1987 killing, which has remained unsolved despite at least four police investigations.

But Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave and Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House were all defiant and refused to accept the finding. 

Baroness O’Loan told the committee: ‘We have found the Met to be institutionally corrupt and the responses by senior officers to the report have been most disappointing. 

‘The public statements which we have heard from the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner (and) Assistant Commissioner in the days following the publication illustrate exactly the problem we have been describing.’

Baroness O’Loan, who chaired Daniel Morgan inquiry, blasts Cressida Dick and the Met

Dame Cressida who repeated her rejection of the accusation of institutional corruption

Private detective Daniel Morgan, pictured, was murdered in London on March 10, 1987

The peer said senior officers ‘have continued to lack candour’ in their public statements even after the publication of the damning report.

Baroness O’Loan said ‘incompetence and corrupt acts’ had hampered all the investigations into Mr Morgan’s death.

‘The Met, as an organisation, has not responded honestly to the public and to the family about the serious failures including incompetence and corrupt acts in the murder investigations over the past 34 years,’ she said.

‘The Metropolitan Police has placed concern for its reputation above the public interest.

‘There has been dishonesty for the benefit of the reputation of the organisation and that is institutional corruption, and the statements made on behalf of the Met have continued to lack candour, even after the publication of our report when they referred specifically only to the failings in the first investigation.’

She added: ‘This is a betrayal of the family, and it’s also a betrayal of the public and of good, honest officers. And it will diminish trust.’

The private detective was hacked to death with an axe as he left the pub. In 2013 the then Home Secretary Theresa May ordered an independent panel to investigate Mr Morgan’s murder

Relatives of Daniel Morgan outside The Old Bailey in London following the collapse of a murder trial. Mother Isobel Hulsmann, widow Iris Morgan and brother Alistair Morgan seen here

Morgan was hacked to death with an axe outside the Golden Lion in Sydenham, south London 

Father-of-two Mr Morgan was murdered with an axe in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, in March that year, and his killer has never been brought to justice. 

The report said: ‘Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation’s public image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.’

Later, the committee heard from Dame Cressida who repeated her rejection of the accusation of institutional corruption.

While she said it was ‘a very significant report’ that they take ‘extremely seriously’, she said the claim was ‘bordering on offensive’.

She said: ‘In terms of institutional corruption that’s not the Met I see today.’

Dame Cressida added: ‘I don’t accept that’s the Met I know, and I find bordering on offensive I suppose, the suggestion that we keep things quiet to protect our reputation currently.

‘That’s not the Met I lead, that’s not the Met I see.

‘However, there may be occasions when we look like that, when we are perceived to be. I’m absolutely determined that we up our game on our openness and our transparency.’

Who is Daniel Morgan and why was he murdered?

Daniel Morgan, who worked as a private detective, was killed after leaving a pub

Despite five police investigations and an inquest, no-one has ever been brought to justice over private investigator Daniel Morgan’s killing in 1987.

The Metropolitan Police have previously admitted the initial inquiry into the unsolved case was blighted by police corruption.

Here is a timeline of key dates:

– March 10 1987: Daniel Morgan is murdered with an axe in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London.

– April 1988: An inquest into his death records a verdict of unlawful killing.

– June 1988: Hampshire police begin investigating the murder and the Metropolitan Police handling of the case.

– February 1989: Mr Morgan’s business partner Jonathan Rees and his associate Paul Goodridge are charged with murder and Mr Goodridge’s girlfriend Jean Wisden is charged with perverting the course of justice.

– May 1989: The case is dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Goodridge later sues Hampshire Constabulary.

– 1997: A new investigation is opened into Mr Morgan’s death, but ends when separate crimes are uncovered. In September 1999, Mr Rees is charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice over a plot to plant cocaine on a woman involved in a custody dispute, and later jailed for six years, raised to seven years on appeal.

– Late 2000: A formal review is carried out of the case, which leads to another investigation opening the following year. It is closed in March 2003 with no charges brought.

– February 2004: Mr Morgan’s family call on the Government to open a public inquiry into the case, but it is refused.

– April 2008: Five people are arrested and charged in connection with the case. Jonathan Rees, his brothers-in-law Glenn and Garry Vian, and an associate, James Cook, were charged with Mr Morgan’s murder, while former police officer Sid Fillery was charged with perverting the course of justice.

– March 2011: The prosecution collapses after police failings relating to disclosure of evidence and handling of informants. In the wake of the collapse, Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell and Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin both acknowledge that corruption hampered the early investigations into Mr Morgan’s death.

– 2013: Then-home secretary Theresa May announces that an independent panel will be set up to examine the case.

– July 2019: Mr Rees and the Vian brothers are all awarded six-figure sums in damages after successfully suing the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution. A High Court judge rules that Mr Rees and Glenn Vian should each receive £155,000, and Garry Vian should get £104,000.

– May 18 2021: The Independent Panel is due to publish its report, but suffers delays due to the Home Office initially claiming no Parliamentary time can be found to make publication possible, and then insisting it wishes to review the document and make redactions as it sees necessary on national security or human rights grounds.

– May 28: An agreement is reached that a small team of Home Office officials will be allowed to read the report before its publication on June 15, with any redactions marked in footnotes. Mr Morgan’s family will also be allowed to read the full report.

– June 8: The Home Office confirms that the full, unredacted report will be published on June 15.

– June 15: The Met is damned and family call for Dame Cressida Dick to resign. 

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