Press Release: Met police involvement in murder? The Home Office isn’t worried. 13th December 2004

This is what the family of murdered private investigator Daniel Morgan and their MPs Roger Williams and Chris Smith have feared for many years. Daniel had repeatedly expressed concerns over police corruption before his murder. These fears have grown tenfold in the past year as details of four failed police inquiries have emerged for the first time after the family won disclosure of police reports in the high court.

Five out of six arrested suspects’ alibis not investigated, botched forensics, theft from Daniel’s corpse while the crime scene was under police control: these are just some of astonishing blunders in the first inquiry in 1987-88. This information has been withheld from the family and the public for over 16 years and is now entering the public domain for the first time.

Despite these revelations, minister for policing Hazel Blears, last week refused again to order the public inquiry called for by 83 members of parliament.

At an inquest in April 1988, it was alleged that Daniel’s partner Jonathan Rees had arranged the murder with officers from Catford police and that Rees had agreed with one member of the squad, DS Sidney Fillery, to take part in the inquiry to sabotage it and then step into Daniel’s shoes after taking early retirement. By February 1988, Fillery was partnering Rees at Southern Investigations. (Adjournment Debate 6 July 2004). The allegation was made in September 1987 and was partially prescient.

An outside inquiry was ordered by Met Commissioner Sir Peter Imbert. Unbelievably, Hampshire police concluded publicly that the first investigation had shown “determination to bring the murderers to justice”. Hampshire also charged an innocent man with the murder, but the flimsy case failed to get past committal. The family believe this was intended to distract public attention from the reality of the situation.

In July 1997, Home Secretary Jack Straw wrote to Chris Smith as follows:

“The Commissioner informs me that there were some allegations that a senior officer was involved in the murder, but these were all thoroughly investigated at the time and proved to be incorrect”.

In November 1997, after years of lobbying, the Morgan family and their MPs met Commissioner Paul Condon to air their fears of a cover-up. The meeting was attended by DAC Roy Clark, then head of Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption unit, CIB3. Late in 1998, Clark began a third inquiry behind the backs of the family and their MPs. Only in June 2003 did the family learn that the inquiry had casually frittered away a golden opportunity to gather evidence of police involvement in the murder. Instead of stimulating conversation about the murder, as Alastair Morgan had repeatedly suggested to Roy Clark after their meeting, the secret bugging operation waited months until Jonathan Rees and a serving police detective, Austin Warnes, were recorded plotting to plant drugs on an innocent woman in order to discredit her in a custody battle. The operation was then closed down. Rees and Warnes were convicted. Police intelligence reports at the time reveal that Southern investigations had become a hub of police corruption in south London. The Morgan family believe that this had been the case for years. For the third time, no one was brought to trial for the murder of Daniel Morgan.

In July 1999, Clark told the family’s solicitor Raju Bhatt that the first inquiry had been “honest and thorough” and that the Hampshire inquiry had been “good”. Mr Clark is now Director of Investigations at the New Independent Police Complaints Commission.

In 2002, while the family were still unaware of any of the content of the internal police reports, another inquiry was begun. Acutely distrustful of the Met, the family requested access to the Hampshire report. (Police internal reports had previously enjoyed Public Interest Immunity). Clark told them that they could have the report if they signed a waiver indemnifying Hampshire police against civil action before reading it. When they refused this offer, they were told they could have the 83-page report read to them in controlled conditions, i.e. no notes or record could be made. They refused again. Clark’s successor, DAC Andy Hayman, finally refused to disclose the report under any circumstances. The family were therefore forced into litigation while the fourth murder inquiry was actually taking place.

The fourth inquiry, the family were told, was based on informant evidence and related only to civilian suspects. What they did not discover until well after this inquiry was over was that the informant had withdrawn his statement over two years before the inquiry began. For the fourth time, no one was brought to justice for the murder of Daniel Morgan.

The Home Office has twice refused to order a public inquiry into this scandal. In July 2004, Caroline Flint told the Commons in an adjournment debate “I am informed that the Metropolitan police accept that the original investigation falls below current investigative standards, but that it was consistent with the standards of the day”. The Morgan family says this is nonsense and that the Met have repeatedly misled the family and indeed the former Home Secretary himself. We are critical however of Jack Straw’s complacency and can understand David Blunkett’s recent assertion. We're just not sure things are any better now.

The family and others believe this is the worst scandal in the Met for 30 years and that the Home Office is partly to blame for it. We will be challenging the latest refusal in the High Court and expect to issue proceedings in January.

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Link to the website of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel
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