Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick may have breached the standards of professional behaviour in relation to the case of murdered private investigator Daniel Morgan, a review has found.
Mr Morgan was killed with an axe in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, on March 10 1987.
An independent panel set up to look into the case published a scathing report in June last year in which it accused the Met of “a form of institutional corruption” for concealing or denying failings over the unsolved murder.
On Wednesday, the police watchdog published its own assessment of matters linked to that report.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had determined “that there is an indication former Commissioner Cressida Dick, when she was an Assistant Commissioner and, from May 2013 to the beginning of 2015, the senior officer responsible for the inquiry, may have breached the standards of professional behaviour but which does not justify disciplinary action”.
It said there is “no evidence to indicate Commissioner Dick intended to protect corrupt officers”.
The IOPC added that Dame Cressida appeared to have “acted in the genuine belief she had a legitimate policing purpose” due to concerns about protecting information “but may have got it wrong by prioritising those concerns over her duty to facilitate full and exceptional disclosure to the Panel”.
The watchdog concluded that the criticisms in the report “do not meet the required threshold for a conduct matter to be recorded and there are no grounds on which to exercise the power of initiative”.
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 inquiries so far are estimated to have cost more than £40 million.
The IOPC shows that it suffers the very sickness within its own ranks that it purports to diagnose within the MetMorgan family statement
The IOPC said that, following its detailed and thorough assessment panel’s 2021 report “there are no new avenues for investigation which could now result in either criminal or disciplinary proceedings”.
In a statement, Mr Morgan’s family said they are “disappointed but not surprised” by the IOPC’s review and questioned why it took so long for the watchdog to produce “no more than a rather poor shadow of the findings” of the panel last year.
“What we find here is a rather shabby exercise by the IOPC to avoid the implications of the police corruption and criminality which the panel’s report compelled them to acknowledge,” they said,
Regarding the specific finding about Dame Cressida, the Morgan family said it appeared the watchdog have looked for “reasons not to use their powers to act on that finding”.
They added: “In doing so, the IOPC shows that it suffers the very sickness within its own ranks that it purports to diagnose within the Met.”
Everything I did was for a legitimate purposeDame Cressida Dick
Dame Cressida said she disagreed with the IOPC’s analysis that she might have breached standards, insisting she and her team acted “professionally, flexibly, expeditiously, diligently and with integrity in a challenging, unprecedented and complex task”.
She said the watchdog had recognised “that everything I did was for a legitimate purpose”.
She added that she “deeply” regrets “that no one has been brought to justice for Daniel’s murder”, and regrets “everything the Met or any of its members have done which has added to the pain of Daniel’s family of losing Daniel in such terrible circumstances”.
Assistant Met Commissioner Amanda Pearson said the force has “transformed how we investigate homicide, identify misconduct and drive out corruption”.
She added that the Met is continuing to work on implementing the recommendations set out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report, released in March this year, which set out multiple things to change to restore public trust in the force.
Mr Morgan’s family accused those responsible for the force and its oversight of having “chosen to duck the challenge posed to them” by the 2021 report, and of failing to “find the courage, the integrity and the will to confront the culture of corruption and cover-up that remains rife in the Met”.
They added: “In the circumstances, we consider that there is no reason to expect any better from the newly appointed leadership of the Met.”
Sal Naseem, IOPC regional director for London, said: “In coming to our decisions, we are acutely aware that not one single officer was ever successfully prosecuted or received significant disciplinary action as a result of corruption directly connected to the murder investigations.
“The wrongs that occurred can never be put right, but it may have served as some small comfort to Mr Morgan’s family and loved ones if the officers involved had been held to account and suffered the consequences of their actions at the time.”
He said what had happened must be a “salient reminder” to police “of the importance of being constantly vigilant in challenging improper and corrupt behaviour swiftly, firmly and robustly”.
Dame Cressida stepped down from her role as commissioner in April, after criticism over her handling of racist, misogynist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station and following a series of other scandals which plagued the Met during her time in post.
In July, former counter-terrorism policing chief Sir Mark Rowley was named as the Met’s next commissioner.