Alastair Morgan: A murder, a failed trial, and a family who want answers

For 25 years, he has fought to establish the truth about the killing of his brother. Cahal Milmo meets him

The phone call that condemned Alastair Morgan to a life of seeking justice came at 5am on a spring day 25 years ago. Ever since he picked up the phone to hear from his mother that his brother Daniel was dead, he has fought an unceasing battle for the truth aimed not just at the killers but also those whose job it was to find them.

On 21 May, the latest testimony to the failure of the Metropolitan Police and the criminal justice system to put private investigator Daniel Morgan's murderers behind bars will be delivered, when a delayed review by Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service into last year's collapsed trial of three suspects is shown to Mr Morgan and his family.

The document itself is unlikely to tell Mr Morgan anything he did not already know about the extraordinary failings that mean his brother's killers remain at large. But it will open the way for what the 63-year-old translator believes is the last best hope to establish the truth about perhaps the most notorious unsolved murder of the last 50 years.

Once the review has been delivered, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, will be forced to decide whether she will grant the family's request for a judge-led inquiry into Daniel's death. At the heart of that inquiry will be the allegation that police corruption led to the killing and contributed to the failure of five police investigations, costing an estimated £40m, to secure a conviction.

Speaking at his home in Clerkenwell, Mr Morgan told The Independent: "My relationship with the British state is pretty much finished. It took us 25 years to see a Home Secretary about my brother's case. When we finally got there, Mrs May said it was all very serious and there must be a police investigation.

"I said, no, no Mrs May, we've had 25 years of police investigations and they've let us down every step of the way. The only way to deal with this now is a full judge-led inquiry. I don't know of any case worse than Daniel's, especially from the point of view of suspected criminality within the police."

A cloud of alleged police corruption has hung over the Morgan case since the night of 10 March 1987 when police were called to the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, and found the body of the private detective, then 37, next to his car with an axe embedded in his head.

The killer had wrapped the handle of the weapon in fabric sticking plaster to avoid leaving any fingerprints. Mr Morgan had been in the pub for a pre-arranged meeting with his business partner, Jonathan Rees, who helped run Southern Investigations, the detective agency set up by Daniel. Mr Rees, who denied at Daniel's inquest that he had murdered him, was one of the three men acquitted of the killing last year.

According to at least two witnesses to whom Daniel spoke at a meeting of vintage car enthusiasts two days before his death, the father-of-two believed he had uncovered "serious police corruption". Further allegations have emerged that shortly before his death, Mr Morgan had approached the News of the World with a story revealing a circle of corrupt police officers who were potentially involved in a cocaine smuggling ring.

Throughout the intervening years, his brother has been an unstinting presence in the Morgan case. Since 1987, he calculates he has held 600 meetings related to Daniel's death, 200 of which have been with police, officials or MPs.

He said: "It is like a nightmare. Having a family member murdered is something that happens to other people. It just developed as a nightmare, the whole thing. The arrests of police, the inquest, what happened to Daniel's company. When my mother phoned that morning, she said the police could not tell her what had happened to him. I immediately knew there was something wrong. I don't know how but I sensed there was something sinister. I just didn't know how sinister."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference