Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Family fury as Priti Patel delays report into Daniel Morgan's murder

‘It’s a kick in the teeth for us’: Family fury as long-awaited report into murder of private detective Daniel Morgan is delayed by Priti Patel

  • Daniel Morgan was murdered outside a south London pub on March 10, 1987
  • The father-of-two was killed outside the Golden Lion in Sydenham, south London
  • Scotland Yard’s investigation into the killing was stymied by corrupt officers 
  • The Home Office has delayed the publication of a report into the brutal murder 

The family of murdered private detective Daniel Morgan have described a decision by Home Secretary to delay publication of an independent review into his death as ‘a kick in the teeth’. 

The long-awaited report into the unsolved murder has been delayed again due to an ‘unnecessary’ Home Office review said to compromise the authors’ independence.

The panel examining the case had been due to publish its findings on Monday, before being told by the Home Office that no Parliamentary time could be found to allow this to happen.

Then on Monday, it announced that it wanted to review the document, expected to contain ‘a sizeable chapter’ on police corruption, and would keep parts of it secret if it felt necessary.

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

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

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

The Daniel Morgan Independent Panel said it had been told a publication date would not be agreed until the Home Office reviewed the report to ensure it complied with human rights and did not compromise national security.

In a statement on Tuesday, the panel said: ‘This review is being sought on the basis of the Home Office ensuring the report’s compliance with the department’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and for reasons of national security.

‘The Home Office advised it would make redactions if it did not consider the report complied with these obligations.

‘A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.

‘The panel believes that this last-minute requirement is unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel’s independence.’

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.

Home Secretary Priti Patel pictured wants to review the independent report before bringing it to Parliament 

In 2013, then home secretary Theresa May announced that an independent panel was being set up to examine the case.

The panel’s remit was to address questions relating to the murder including police handling of the case, the role corruption played in protecting his killer, and the links between private investigators, police and journalists connected to the case.

The panel said that it had expected its report to be tabled in Parliament by the Home Secretary on Monday.

But it had been advised that the period of mourning after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death and the elections had caused a backlog of matters to be placed before Parliament.

The panel said that the Home Office had not mentioned there was a need to review the report and that it had worked with its counsel to ensure it complied with the relevant legal obligations including the Human Rights Act.

It added: ‘The Panel has worked closely with its counsel (a QC) and its solicitors throughout the course of its work to ensure the report complies with all the relevant legal obligations including the Human Rights Act 1998.

‘A senior specialist Metropolitan Police team, subject to strict non-disclosure agreements, also reviewed all relevant parts of the near final report as part of a security check governed by an agreed protocol with the Metropolitan Police.

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

‘This review enabled the report to be checked for any potential security risks.’

It also said that the the role of the Home Secretary was limited to reporting to Parliament on the panel’s work, receiving its report, laying it before Parliament, and responding to its findings.

It added: ‘The panel’s terms of reference drawn up in 2013 and a management statement agreed to by the secretary to the panel and the Home Office in 2014, outline the responsibilities of the Home Secretary in relation to the Panel’s work.

‘In relation to report publication the Home Secretary’s role is limited to reporting to Parliament on the panel’s work, receiving the panel’s report and laying it before Parliament, and thereafter responding to the panel’s findings.’

The panel said it was ‘disappointed’, but hoped the issue could be resolved so the report can be published in May.

It added: ‘The panel is disappointed with this position and hopes the matter can be resolved in adequate time for its report to still be published in May while Parliament is sitting.’

Daniel Morgan’s family said in a statement: ‘This unwarranted and very belated interference by the Home Secretary amounts to a kick in the teeth for us as the family of Daniel Morgan.

‘We have been living through the torture of waiting to see the panel’s report over the last several years, months and weeks.

‘We have been waiting for the report so that we might understand for ourselves the sorry saga of police corruption and repeated failures to confront that corruption behind the failed investigations over the decades since the murder in 1987.

‘We know from our own bitter experience that the Home Office over those decades was complicit in that sorry saga, at least until 2013 when the then Home Secretary established the panel to help bring the truth to light.

‘In that context, the current Home Secretary’s actions serve only to betray and undermine the very purpose of the panel.

‘The Home Secretary’s intervention is not only unnecessary and inconsistent with the panel’s independence, as the panel have indicated in their statement today.

‘It is an outrage which betrays her ignorance – and the ignorance of those advising her – with regard to her powers in law and the panel’s terms of reference.

‘It also reveals a disturbing disregard for the public interest in safeguarding the independence of the Panel and its report.

‘For us as the family of Daniel Morgan, the Home Secretary’s belated and unwarranted interference in this process is simply unacceptable. We call on her, even at this late hour, to try to understand her limited role in relation to the panel and the need for sensitivity and basic human decency in the exercise of her powers, mindful of the unending distress she is causing to each and every member of our family. ‘

Who is Daniel Morgan and why was he murdered?

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

March 1987: Married father-of-two Daniel Morgan is found dead with an axe in his head in a pub car park in south London.

April 1987: Six suspects, a detective sergeant Sid Fillery, Morgan’s former business partner Jonathan Rees, brothers Glenn and Garry Vian, and two other Met officers are arrested but later released without charge.

1988: Rees denies murdering Mr Morgan at an inquest and a coroner rules the death an unlawful killing.

1989: Three men are arrested over the murder. Two are charged but charges are later dropped due to lack of evidence.

2002: Detective David Cook appears on TV’s Crimewatch to appeal for information about the case. A fourth police inquiry puts evidence before the CPS, but no prosecutions are brought.

2005: A fifth inquiry, led by Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook, is launched.

2008: Rees, the Vian brothers and another man are charged with murder.

2010: A key witness in the case is dismissed. Two other witnesses are also later dropped. The fourth man arrested is cleared.

2011: The Director of Public Prosecutions pulls the case and Rees and the Vian brothers are also formally acquitted.

2017: Sid Fillery is awarded damages for being unfairly accused of perverting the course of justice. A High Court judge dismisses the claims of Rees and the Vian brothers.

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