New inquiry into murder of Daniel Morgan ‘will expose Met cover-up’
Home Secretary to announce review into killing of private investigator 26 years ago
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Wednesday 08 May 2013
After five murder investigations spread over 25 years, and with no one yet brought to justice, the brutal 1987 killing of Daniel Morgan is once again set to be re-examined.
An independent review, which will be confirmed by the Home Secretary later this week, also threatens to expose an alleged "corrupt nexus" of private investigators, the police and journalists said to be involved in the stark failure convict the killer.
A lengthy campaign for a public inquiry by the family of Mr Morgan is expected to be told by Theresa May on Friday that the case will effectively be re-opened.
The campaign has included high-level political pressure to re-evaluate critical evidence which they believe holds the potential of severely damaging the already fragile post-Leveson reputation of the Metropolitan Police and leading tabloid newspapers.
Daniel Morgan, 37, was a partner in a London private investigations firm, Southern Investigations, when he was found dead in a south London pub car park. He had been struck in the head four times with an axe, the weapon found deeply embedded in the front of his skull. The killing has been described as a premeditated "execution" because Daniel was found with over £1,100 in cash still in his pockets.
The Labour MP Tom Watson, who has pressured the Home Office to re-visit the Morgan case, claimed the private investigator was murdered because he was about to expose corrupt Met officers.
The Home Office would only confirm that discussions with the Morgan family were continuing and that an announcement would follow.
However it is understood that Mrs May ordered the review after extensive submissions on all the police investigations, including the last two Scotland Yard probes in 1987 and 2006, had been examined by Home Office lawyers.
If the form of the independent review and its remit mirrors the Hillsborough investigation, a panel of experts appointed by a judge will be given powers to examine all aspects of the murder, including the potential influence of police corruption in preventing a conviction.
In a re-run of key elements of the Leveson Inquiry, the closeness of the relationship between Met officers and senior editors at the News of the World, and how this relationship could have affected the murder investigations, could also be examined.
Daniel's brother Alastair has remained silent on the Home Secretary's decision. However in his earlier submission to Mrs May, he said that for a quarter of a century his family had "done everything democratically and legally possible to secure justice for Daniel and to expose police corruption."
His blamed "obstruction and worse at the highest levels of the Metropolitan Police" and an "impotent police complaints system" which had resulted in "no public scrutiny of the evidence available in relation to Daniel's murder."
Murder inquiries took place in 1987, 1988-89, 1998-2000, 2002-03, with the last one beginning in 2008. Suspected have been arrested, released, re-arrested, charged and re-charged in connection with the case.
Mr Morgan's business partner at Southern Investigations, Jonathan Rees, along with three others, was charged with the murder in 2008. A Met detective sergeant was also charged with perverting the course of justice.
The case was halted in 2011 and the defendants cleared when the prosecution admitted defeat before the trial had officially started. Some 750,000 pages of material had been gathered by the prosecution lawyers.
Fall-out from murder, which took place in a Sydenham car park, has been felt inside Scotland Yard, and inside some national tabloid titles which have been accused of covering up the extensive use of dark practices which were touched on during the Leveson Inquiry.
During testimony heard by Lord Justice Leveson, it was claimed that the Morgan investigations had been influenced by the closeness of the relationship between News International's now-defunct Sunday tabloid, senior Scotland Yard detectives, and Southern Investigations.
Jacqui Hames - a former police officer and wife of the Met officer who led the last two investigations of the Morgan murder, detective chief superintendent Dave Cook - revealed to Leveson that she and her husband had been put under surveillance by an operation run by the News of the World.
The NOTW editor alleged to have ordered operation is said to have enjoyed a business relationship with Southern Investigations.
The Home Office review potentially adds another layer of legal complexity to the criminal trials scheduled for later this year on phone hacking and corruption. The publication of the Morgan review is therefore unlikely to be published before all the hacking and corruption-related cases have concluded.
The total bill for all the Morgan-related investigations over the last 25 years is reported to be around £30m.
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