Brother of Daniel Morgan hopes report will find ‘institutionalised corruption’

·4-min read

The brother of a private investigator whose murder became one of Scotland Yard’s longest-running cold cases hopes a long-awaited report into his death will find institutionalised corruption within the police.

Alastair Morgan has campaigned for decades for justice for his brother Daniel, who 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.

In 2013, then-home secretary Theresa May announced that an independent panel was being set up to examine the case. It is due to report its findings on Tuesday.

Mr Morgan has said he expects the report to contain “a sizeable chapter on corruption”.

Alastair Morgan outside the Old Bailey in 2011
Alastair Morgan outside the Old Bailey in 2011 (John Stillwell/PA)

The publication follows a furious row between the Home Office, Independent Panel and Mr Morgan’s family over its release, which was originally due to take place in May.

After eight years in the making, the Home Office said that it may need to redact parts of the document on national security or human rights grounds.

But the panel said it had already worked with lawyers and security experts from the Metropolitan Police, calling the last-minute intervention “unnecessary” and “not consistent with the panel’s independence”.

Mr Morgan’s family said the move was a “kick in the teeth”, and called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to consider the distress the delay caused them.

An agreement was eventually reached that a small Home Office team could read the report in advance, and last week it was confirmed that the full, unredacted report would be published.

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

Speaking in May, Alastair Morgan told the PA news agency: “I’m hoping to see a conclusion of institutionalised corruption.

“There’s been some very bad policing going on there. And not just at the beginning – it went on and on and on in one way or another.

“In the current situation I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that anyone will ever be convicted of the murder because of the mess that has been made en route.

“Nor do I believe that any of the police officers who were involved in discreditable activity or activity that is criticised by the panel will face any disciplinary or criminal action.

“But I just hope that this situation, this kind of injustice, will be highlighted by the panel.”

A series of police investigations have been held into the murder in the last three-and-a-half decades.

In February 1989 Mr Morgan’s business partner Jonathan Rees and his associate Paul Goodridge were charged with murder, and Mr Goodridge’s girlfriend Jean Wisden was charged with perverting the course of justice.

Daniel Morgan's former business partner Jonathan Rees
Daniel Morgan’s former business partner Jonathan Rees (John Stillwell/PA)

But three months later the case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service, and Mr Goodridge went on to sue Hampshire Constabulary over the charge.

Later, in 2008, five people were charged in relation to the case – Mr Rees, his brothers-in-law Glenn and Gary Vian, and an associate James Cook, were charged with Mr Morgan’s murder, while former police officer Sid Fillery was charged with perverting the course of justice.

But police failures in disclosing evidence and handling of key witnesses led to the prosecution collapsing by March 2011.

Eight years later in 2019, Mr Rees and the Vian brothers were each awarded six-figure sums in damages after suing the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution.

It is estimated that the five police inquiries cost around £30 million, while according to statements posted on its website, the panel itself – chaired by former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Baroness Nuala O’Loan – cost just over £14.1 million up to the end of 2019/20.

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