Teresa May appoints Baroness Nuala O’Loan to head up inquiry into the notorious unsolved Daniel Morgan murder case

 

The quest for the truth over Britain’s most notorious unsolved murder received a major boost today after a well respected former Northern Ireland police ombudsman was appointed to lead an independent inquiry into the case.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who uncovered some of the British state’s darkest secrets during its “dirty war” in Ulster, has agreed to lead the panel into the murder of Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who was found in a south London pub car park with an axe embedded in his skull in 1987.

The case has been plagued for 27 years with serious allegations of police corruption. Five investigations costing more than £30 million have failed to secure any convictions. Two prosecutions have collapsed before the trial began and evidence could be heard in open court.

Today, Home Secretary Theresa May, who commissioned an independent inquiry into the murder last year, announced that Baroness O’Loan had agreed to head a Hillsborough-style panel into the murder.

She said: “The remit of the Panel is to shine a light on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan’s murder, its background and the handling of the case over the period since 1987. I am very grateful to Baroness O’Loan for accepting this important role and look forward to the Panel completing its work.”

Baroness O’Loan won a reputation for fierce independence as Northern Ireland’s first Police Ombudsman from 2000 to 2007, during which time she investigated thousands of cases, including the police handling of the Omagh bombing in 1998 and police collusion with loyalist paramilitaries engaged in the most serious crime between 1990 and 2002.

In a devastating finding on the Omagh attack which killed 29 people, she found that the Northern Irish police had prior knowledge of the bombing and questioned the leadership of Northern Ireland's then Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

Daniel Morgan was murdered in 1987 amid claims he was about to blow the whistle on links between corrupt police officers and organised crime.

A senior executive from the News of the World is a close associate of one of the main suspects. The Met has evidence of this relationship stretching back to the 1980s but failed to act upon it.

However, in a sign of the sensitivities surrounding the case, Lord Justice Leveson decided he would not probe the affair during his Inquiry into the press and police, claiming it would entail a “lengthy and time consuming analysis of the very considerable detail”.

Baroness O’Loan said: “It is more than 27 years since Daniel Morgan was horrifically killed and his family have endured an agonising wait for the truth to be established. There is a great deal of work to be done.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that the panel works effectively engaging fully with all the members of Mr Morgan’s family, to produce a report which will shine a light on what happened to Mr Morgan, and how his case has been handled since 1987.”

Determined: Daniel Morgan’s mother, sister and brother at the Old Bailey in 2011 Determined: Daniel Morgan’s mother, sister and brother at the Old Bailey in 2011

Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, a member of the media select committee who accused Lord Justice Leveson of being “flummoxed” when she questioned him about the case, said: “There is something about the Daniel Morgan murder that makes the Establishment very nervous, as evident in the recent Leveson inquiry and subsequent questions to Sir Brian at the culture, media and sport select committee. 

She added: “It is important we find out what it is and get justice for Daniel and his family.”

Kevin Fulton, a former British agent who infiltrated the IRA on behalf of MI5 and who has himself fallen foul of Baroness O’Loan’s findings in Northern Ireland, said of her new appointment: “Hannibal is at the gates. A lot of people need to be very afraid.”

Following years of pressure, Theresa May initially granted the Morgan family an independent judge-led panel to investigate the Daniel Morgan case last May. But progress has been painfully slow.

Sir Stanley Burnton, the judge initially appointed to lead the panel, stepped down for “personal reasons” last November and was not replaced for nine months - until today’s announcement.

The scale of its task was brought into sharp focus earlier this year when Craig Mackey, the Deputy Commissioner of the Met, revealed there were one million pieces of paper relating to the Morgan case in Scotland Yard’s vaults.

However, in March  – almost one year since the Home Secretary announced the panel – ministers revealed it had obtained just 700 documents relating to its inquiries – 0.0007 per cent of the total.

The Daniel Morgan Panel is modelled on the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the inquiry into the deaths of 96 football fans at Sheffield Wednesday stadium in 1989. The Hillsborough inquiry was appointed in 2010 and reported in 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch