After 18 years, riddle of murdered private detective may be solved

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The Independent Online

In March 1987, Daniel Morgan was found dead in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in south London, an axe embedded in his head. Robbery was ruled out as a motive because £1,100 in cash was left in the 37-year-old's pocket.

Morgan's family is convinced that police corruption and incompetence have prevented anyone from being convicted, and hopes that the new inquiry will help bring the killer to justice and expose police wrongdoing.

The prime suspect for the original murder investigation was Mr Morgan's business partner, Jonathan Rees, who helped run the Southern Investigations detective agency. The motive was thought to be a robbery at a car auction in south London a year earlier. Mr Rees undertook to provide security for the auctions, employing his brothers-in-law and three serving police officers, who were moonlighting. One of them was Detective Sergeant Sidney Fillery.

The £18,000 takings were "stolen" in suspicious circumstances and Mr Rees was forced to pay the auction company the missing cash. This caused a rift between the two partners.

On the evening before he died, Mr Morgan went to the Golden Lion in Sydenham where he ended up rowing with DS Fillery, a serving officer for 23 years. The following evening, Mr Morgan and Mr Rees met in the same pub. Mr Rees left at 9pm. His partner left the pub 15 minutes later. His body was found at 9.40pm.

A murder investigation was set up and among the officers on the inquiry team was DS Fillery, who did not tell his boss of his association with the victim.

At the coroner's inquest in 1988, it was alleged by the agency's former book-keeper, Kevin Lennon, that Mr Rees had arranged a £1,000 contract for Mr Morgan's murder. Mr Rees and three police friends were said to have planned to stage it within the jurisdiction of Catford so that they could suppress any evidence.

Several Catford officers were arrested, including DS Fillery. In 1988 the coroner exonerated all the officers and they received damages from the Metropolitan Police for false imprisonment.

A year after the inquest, Mr Rees was arrested and charged in connection with the killing, but the police dropped all proceedings. Mr Rees continued to run Southern Investigations along with his new business partner, Mr Fillery - who had been medically discharged from the police - until 1999, when he was jailed for seven years in a drugs conspiracy case. He planted cocaine on a young mother on behalf of her husband to win a custody battle for their child.

Despite an inquiry by Hampshire Police overseen by the Police Complaints Authority in 1988 and an anti-corruption inquiry by the Metropolitan Police in 1999, little fresh evidence was uncovered. A further review in 2001 by the Met led to the recommendation of various charges, but none were brought by the Crown Prosecution Service. Earlier this year the Home Office refused to set up a public inquiry.

Throughout, Mr Morgan's brother, Alastair, and mother, Isobel Hulsmann, have been campaigning for a public inquiry.

A report to the Metropolitan Police Authority says: "It is the chair's [chairman Len Duvall's] view that although this murder took place some 18 years ago, there are unanswered questions which continue to cast doubt on the integrity of the police service. He considers that an independent review, with a focused brief, would be a constructive and necessary way forward."

Under the review the Met's Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, must prepare a report on the case by January. This will be examined - along with a submission from lawyers representing the Morgan family - by a barrister who can then comment on the conduct of the police and CPS.