The Metropolitan Police have been accused of “a form of institutional corruption” for concealing or denying failings over the unsolved murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.
By failing to acknowledge its “many failings” since his murder, the force’s first objective was to “protect itself”, according to Baroness Nuala O’Loan, the chairman of the independent panel which led the inquiry.
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.
Despite five police inquiries and an inquest, 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 panel called for the Met to apologise to Mr Morgan’s family and the public for not confronting its systemic failings and those of individual officers.
In a statement through their lawyer, the family of Mr Morgan said: “We welcome the recognition that we – and the public at large – have been failed over the decades by a culture of corruption and cover up in the Metropolitan Police, an institutionalised corruption that has permeated successive regimes in the Metropolitan Police and beyond to this day.”
The report, which runs to more than 1,200 pages, expressed concern that within the Met “a culture still exists that inhibits both organisational and individual accountability”.
It found: “The family of Daniel Morgan suffered grievously as a consequence of the failure to bring his family to justice, the unwarranted assurances which they were given, the misinformation which was put into the public domain, and the denial of failings in investigation, including failing to acknowledge professional competence, individuals’ venal behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures.
“The Metropolitan Police also repeatedly failed to take a fresh, thorough and critical look at past failings.
“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.”
The initial investigation into Mr Morgan’s death was heavily criticised, with the murder scene not searched and left unguarded, and no alibis sought for all the suspects.
A later probe by Hampshire Police, brought in to investigate amid fears of corruption, was compromised when a senior Met officer was appointed to work with the team, the report said.
The current Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was criticised for her refusal to allow the panel team access to the HOLMES police data system.
The report said: “The Metropolitan Police’s lack of candour manifested itself in the hurdles placed in the path of the Panel, such as (then Assistant Commissioner) Cressida Dick’s initial refusal to recognise the necessity for the Panel to have access to the HOLMES system.”
Daniel Morgan’s brother Alastair Morgan told reporters Dame Cressida should “absolutely” be considering her position in light of the report.
The family’s solicitor Raju Bhatt said: “You heard from the panel that the institutionalised corruption that they found is a current problem in the present tense.
“The current leadership in the Met has to take responsibility for that continuing.”
Downing Street later said Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has confidence in the Met Commissioner.
Home Secretary Priti Patel described the Morgan case as “one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the Metropolitan Police”.
We deeply regret our failure to bring those who murdered Daniel Morgan to justice.— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) June 15, 2021
We are considering today's report and will respond in more detail soon. pic.twitter.com/7VX5ZSEUpG
She said she has asked Dame Cressida for a “detailed response” to the panel’s recommendations and the wider issues outlined in the report, adding that there were questions about the ability of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog to hold police to account.
As a result she has decided to bring forward a review of the IOPC to start this summer looking at its effectiveness and efficiency.
The Met said in a brief statement: “We deeply regret our failure to bring those who murdered Daniel Morgan to justice”, adding that the force was considering the report and would “respond in more detail” later on Tuesday.