To Britain’s great shame, Daniel Morgan’s murder is still being told as a “Whodunnit?” almost 29 years after he was found dead in a pub car park with an axe in his head.
The brutal slaying of the London private detective has been dubbed “the most-investigated unsolved murder in British history”.
It has been the subject of five police murder inquiries and a collapsed Old Bailey trial. The saga has exposed disturbing evidence of police corruption and of media conspiracy in the cover-up of who was responsible – but no one has been convicted.
Mr Morgan’s brother, Alastair, who has campaigned relentlessly to expose those responsible, is hoping that the new public appetite for crime podcasts, following the success of the American hit Serial, offers an opportunity to increase public understanding of the horrific case.
Recording begins next week of the six-part The Daniel Morgan Murder, a crowd-funded podcast that will explore the story chronologically, following Alastair’s long battle to get justice for his brother.
“It’s a chance for me to tell the story in my own words as I saw it develop,” Mr Morgan told The Independent. “I don’t think the mainstream media has given the case the attention it deserves. It’s probably the worst police corruption case in 50 years.”
The circumstances relating to the murder are the subject of an inquiry by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, which was set up by Theresa May in 2013 and is expected to report late next year.
Links have emerged between Southern Investigations (the detective agency that Daniel ran with partner Jonathan Rees) and parts of Fleet Street, including Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World.
The podcast is being made by Peter Jukes, the author and playwright, who got to know about the case while covering the phone-hacking scandal. “It’s a very complicated story to cover in one journalistic piece. I felt that, as a storyteller, I could clarify some new things,” he said.
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Daniel Morgan was murdered on the night of 10 March 1987, when his body was found outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London. He was 37.
The killer wrapped the handle of the axe in fabric sticking plaster to avoid leaving fingerprints. Mr Morgan had been in the pub for a pre-arranged meeting with Mr Rees, who denied, at Daniel’s inquest, that he had murdered him and was one of three men acquitted of the killing in 2011. After the trial’s collapse, it emerged that Mr Rees was being paid £150,000 a year by the News of the World for supplying information.
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.
The Morgan podcast will run for around three hours in total, so it will not have the scope of Serial, which ran in 12 parts for nearly nine hours. Serial encouraged listeners to play detective as its host, Sarah Koenig, explored the case against Adnan Syed, who was found guilty in 2000 of the 1999 murder in Baltimore of the teenager Hae Min Lee.
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