The brother of Daniel Morgan, the private detective murdered in South London in 1987, has told London Assembly Members that “the Metropolitan Police have colonised my life for three-and-a-half decades” during which he has sought explanations for the failure to secure a conviction for the killing.
Alastair Morgan, appearing before the Assembly’s police and crime committee today, also asked AMs to request the resignation of Met Commissioner Cressida Dick. He described her as one of three Commissioners, the others being John Stevens and the late Peter Imbert, who had been “reprehensible in their behaviour” towards him over the case.
The Met’s handling of the unsolved case over the years was described in the recent highly critical report of an Independent Panel as constituting “a form of institutional corruption”. Both Dick and her deputy Stephen House have rejected the accusation, though the Commissioner has apologised for the failure to bring anyone to justice. The Commissioner has previously said she does not intend to resign over the matter.
The Met admitted in 2011 that the original investigation into Daniel Morgan’s murder – described by the Independent Panel as having “multiple very significant failings” – had been debilitated by corruption. There have been five inquiries and an inquest into the murder. Daniel Morgan was found dead in a pub car park in Sydenham after being attacked with an axe.
The Independent Panel report documents evidence of a “very close association” at the time of the murder between officers on the team investigating it and “individuals linked to crime”. It concludes that the Met has concealed or denied an array of failings “for the sake of the organisation’s public image”, constituting “dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit”.
Alastair Morgan said today, in answer to Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon, that unless the Met acknowledges “the substance and conclusions” of the Independent Panel’s report, which recommends a major culture change in the Met, “you might as well talk to a door”.
Labour AM Leonie Cooper recapped for the meeting that when setting up the Panel in 2013, the then Home Secretary Theresa May assured the Morgan family that it would receive “exceptional and full disclosure of all relevant documentation” including from the police.
But Morgan told the committee that such promises from politicians were naive and described those from senior police officers as “complete nonsense. They just spout this propaganda and expect everyone to swallow it”. The Panel’s work was expected to be complete within a year but eventually took eight. Morgan told the committee he has never received a proper explanation for the delays. “That’s one of their things: never explain, never apologise,” he said. The Independent Panel report itself said the Met had and continued to “obfuscate, conceal and deny failures.”
Morgan said that in his view Cressida Dick “put every possible obstacle and delay that she could” in the way of allowing the Panel access to Met material, in particular the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES), which Morgan said was “vital for the inquiry”.
He recalled his first ever meeting with Dick, which took place before she was Commissioner and after the final collapse of a 2011 trial for the murder, when she attended a gathering at which Morgan and his solicitor were shown a report into the collapse of the trial. Morgan called it a “tatty little excuse for a report”, which had taken over a year to produce, and said his solicitor described it as something one of his assistants could have come up with in three weeks.
“It made me very, very angry,” Morgan said. “I remember taking Cressida Dick through what I had experienced over the past 25 years – cover-ups, lies. And she sat there, stoney-faced.” He also claimed that Dick had begun communicating separately with the original chairman of the Panel, Stanley Burton, apparently with a view to him alone receiving “certain sensitive documents”, which created problems among the Panel’s membership. Burton withdrew from the Panel in 2014. He was succeeded by Baroness Nuala O’Loan.
Cressida Dick will be appearing before a future meeting of the police and crime committee to answer questions about the case and the Independent Panel report’s findings.