Hopes of end to 20-year hunt for detective’s killer
Brother’s campaign boosted as new witnesses come forward

Islington Tribune - by Simon Wroe and Paul Keilthy

11 May 2007

The brother of a murdered private investigator believes his 20-year campaign for justice may soon be over – with new witnesses coming forward to shed light on the brutal unsolved killing.

Alastair Morgan, 58, from Finsbury, has long voiced concern about the police investigation into the killing of his brother Daniel, a private eye. The Metropolitan Police admitted in a 1989 report, two years after the killing, that “the original investigation had shortcomings”. But now, with a new investigation team working on the case, Mr Morgan believes the truth will finally emerge.

Daniel Morgan, 37, was found lying next to his BMW with an axe embedded in his head outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London, on March 10, 1987.

In the weeks before his death, he had claimed to be working on a case that could expose major corruption in the Met. After four inconclusive police inquiries, Alastair Morgan’s 20-year campaign for justice has gathered renewed impetus with a new Scotland Yard investigation.

The Tribune has learnt that up to four witnesses are now under police protection in relation to the case. An updated file on the case will be given to the Crown Prosecution Service at the end of the month. Technological advances could also bring fresh forensic evidence to light.

When Daniel Morgan was found, the pocket of his freshly dry-cleaned suit was ripped. Detectives now believe the killers may have torn something out of the pocket, and left traces of DNA that current techniques can identify. Advances have also made it possible to lift fingerprints from the murder weapon, despite the killers wrapping the handle in sticking plaster.

Mr Morgan said: “I’m encouraged. Most significant is that witnesses have come forward - people who know what happened but haven’t trusted the police until now. There may finally be a move toward a conviction in this case.

“I’ve been through more murder inquiries than anyone I know, but I’ve kept going.”

Mr Morgan, a translator and interpreter who has run his campaign from his Finsbury home for 12 years, said: “Danny was getting under the noses of some members of the criminal community and some corrupt police. He got in too deep.” Just a year after the murder, the Met bowed to pressure from the Morgan family and called in an outside force to examine the first, flawed inquiry.

Three people were arrested and charged in 1989, but charges were later dropped due to insufficient evidence. But concern about the case was strong enough to persuade the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) to lobby for a new investigation last year. An MPA report found “that, although this murder took place some 18 years ago, there are a number of unanswered questions which must continue to cast doubt on the integrity of the police service”.

Islington South and Finsbury Labour MP Emily Thornberry has championed Mr Morgan’s case. She said: “It had got to the state that you had to have politicians involved to get a fair inquiry. I hope at last they are going to do the right thing. His family won’t rest until they get justice and I shall support them.”

Jennette Arnold, Alastair Morgan’s London Assembly representative and a Labour member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: “All the evidence is that this is absolutely, significantly tainted with corruption. We’ve got to move on, because we’ve got to trust the police.”

The continuing investigation, described by Detective Superintendent Dave Cook, the investigating officer, as “very sensitive and necessarily secretive”, prevents the Met discussing allegations of corruption beyond its citing of the 1989 report, which largely cleared the Met.

There is a £50,000 reward offered for information leading to successful prosecutions in the case.

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