Axe murder case reopens file on police corruption

Sunday Times - Michael Gillard

17 June 2007

The policeman who came to prominence running the cash for honours inquiry has recommended charges in one of Scotland Yard’s most notorious unsolved cases.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates has passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that delves deep into a history of Metropolitan police corruption entangled with the 1987 axe murder of Daniel Morgan, a private detective.

Yates is understood to have recommended charges of conspiracy against five men. The officer’s file on cash for honours is already under consideration by the CPS after an unprecedented investigation, which included Yates interviewing the prime minister.

It covers one of the darkest chapters in Scotland Yard’s history and touches on corruption cases going back two decades. Sources say the practices alleged in the report make the television series Life on Mars “look like a nativity play”.

One of the men against whom charges have been recommended is understood to be a retired police detective.

Morgan was murdered in March 1987 at the age of 37. An assailant embedded an axe in his skull as he approached his car in the Golden Lion pub car park in Sydenham, south London. Masking tape had been wound around the axe handle to conceal fingerprints.

Morgan's brother Alastair and his 79-year-old mother Isobel Hulsman have led a long campaign for justice but believe they have been thwarted by the Yard’s refusal to accept that it had a corruption problem.

Alastair said last week: “We have always believed Daniel was murdered because he was about to expose police corruption. We want the whole truth to come out so that we can move on with our lives.”

The Met now accepts that Morgan was about to expose police involvement in a cocaine distribution network in southeast London. A trial is likely to embarrass senior officers who repeatedly assured a succession of Home Secretaries that allegations of police corruption were unfounded.

In total, there have been five inquiries into the murder, costing millions of pounds. The fourth one, between 2002 and 2003, failed to convince the CPS that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute. Morgan’s family lobbied the Metropolitan Police Authority for an explanation and a new inquiry.

As a result, in 2005 the authority ordered Sir Ian Blair, the Met commissioner, to report on his force’s handling of the case. Blair admitted the original inquiry had been “compromised” and asked Yates to compile a fresh report, which the authority initially rejected as inadequate.

However, the breakthrough is understood to have come with the emergence of two “super-grasses” who are now in the witness protection programme.

Follow Justice4Daniel on Twitter
Follow Alastair Morgan on Twitter

Link to the website of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel
Return to the top of this page