An independent panel has criticised the Metropolitan police’s handling of Daniel Morgan’s murder, saying it has a “culture of obfuscation and a lack of candour”.

Daniel Morgan’s murder

Daniel Morgan was a private investigator who carried out extensive work for the News of the World, a weekly UK tabloid that ran until 2011. He was found murdered in 1987 in a car park with an axe in his head. No one has ever been convicted. At the time, there were allegations of police corruption, with suggestions that the Metropolitan police protected those responsible. 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.

Independent panel investigates

Two years later, in 2013, an independent panel set up an inquiry into Mr Morgan’s death. The panel wanted to investigate the circumstances of his murder and the way in which the police handled it. In particular, they wanted to examine the police’s involvement and the Met’s failure to confront corruption within the force.

The panel’s findings have now been published in a report, some eight years later. It said the reason for this delay is that the Met originally refused to grant access to their IT system. The decision was made by current Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who at the time was the Assistant Commissioner. She was accused of obstructing an independent inquiry, fuelling allegations that the police were more interested in protecting themselves.

The panel finally received the documentation from the Metropolitan police in March 2021, allowing it to conclude the inquiry. The findings have now been published in a report.

The report’s findings

The report is highly damning of the Metropolitan police. It reads:

“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 also said that: “the 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 serious and legitimate public concern.”

Several recommendations were made in the report to address areas where there continue to be serious shortcomings in current policy and practice in policing. This includes ensuring necessary resources are allocated to the task of tackling corrupt police behaviour. It has also been suggested that a statutory duty of candour be owed by all law enforcement agencies.

Home Secretary 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 investigation into Mr Morgan’s death continues. The police have offered a £50,000 reward for information and a fresh review of the forensic evidence.