Daniel Morgan murder: Scotland Yard ‘obstructs’ panel inquiry

Victim’s brother Alastair Morgan slams ‘disgraceful’ Met for delay in disclosing case files

By David Hencke | 11 December 2014

Daniel Morgan murder: Scotland Yard ‘obstructs’ panel inquiryScotland Yard stands accused of obstructing an independent inquiry into the axe murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.

Alastair Morgan, brother of the late PI, slammed Scotland Yard for blocking – for over a year – the work of the independent panel that was set up by Theresa May, home secretary, to investigate police corruption that allegedly lies behind the murder.

He branded the Metropolitan Police Service as “disgraceful” for using “every opportunity to obstruct and delay the process at every turn”.

Met chiefs raised a series of objections to handing over internal files on the case to the inquiry panel.

The home secretary set up the panel in May last year to investigate the murder of Morgan, co-founder of a private-detective agency, Southern Investigations, who was found with an axe in his head in 1987 in the car park of a pub in south London. Despite five police investigations into the case, nobody has been convicted for the murder.

May announced the inquiry to investigate possible police involvement in the murder and the role of corruption in the Met in protecting those responsible. It will also investigate allegedly corrupt links between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the News of the World, the defunct Sunday tabloid, and other parts of the media.

The panel follows the model of what is widely regarded as having been a successful inquiry into Hillsborough, the football disaster of 1989. The model also applies to the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse, which has had a troubled start with the resignations of two, successive chairwomen.

Panel inquiries have no statutory power to demand documents. And the Morgan panel has been embroiled in a long-winded dispute with the Met over agreeing a protocol to obtain the relevant documents, Whitehall sources revealed to Exaro.

Some 16 months after the Morgan panel made its first request for the police files, and as Exaro investigated the delay, the Met finally handed over more than 50 crates of evidence. But the wrangling for a total of between 500,000 and a million relevant documents is expected to continue.

Cressida Dick, assistant commissioner at the Met, initially objected to handing over the information in August last year on the grounds that Scotland Yard was not compelled by law to do so.

The panel began negotiating a protocol with the Met to receive documents. The Met raised questions about the processing of the information and whether it could become accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

Police chiefs are understood to have been concerned that handing over the information would identify two informants who were guaranteed anonymity.

However, the panel made clear that it was not interested in knowing the informants’ identities, only the evidence that they could provide over culpability in the handling of the murder case.

Alastair Morgan told Exaro: “It appears that the Met has been allowed to use every opportunity to obstruct and delay the process at every turn. I am sickened by such behaviour from a service funded by the public. It can only be described as disgraceful.

“I have little doubt that the Met will continue to try to obstruct and delay the work of the panel, without taking any account of the decades of pain and frustration that my family has suffered as a result of their failure to confront the corruption and criminality that seems endemic within their ranks.”

He continued: “It is vital that a light is shone on worst excesses of police behaviour.”

“Unless the panel demonstrates a determination to get to the bottom of this snake pit, without fear or favour, I fear for the future of our police service and our criminal justice system itself.”

A Met spokeswoman said: “Establishing this protocol has been essential to ensure the Met can fulfil its legal obligations and safeguard the handling of the documentation.”

She said that the protocol had been agreed, and material is being passed to the panel.

In July last year, Exaro revealed an intelligence report compiled by the Serious Organised Crime Agency – which drew heavily on one of the Met’s operations on the Morgan case – on corrupt links between private detectives, police and the Press.

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