Daniel Morgan murder: Priti Patel’s delay of report into police corruption ‘suspicious’, family believe

Relatives have ‘have every reason to be suspicious’ after decades of failings, lawyer says

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 19 May 2021 11:53 BST
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Private investigator Daniel Morgan was murdered in 1987, but the case has never been solved
Private investigator Daniel Morgan was murdered in 1987, but the case has never been solved (PA)

Priti Patel’s attempt to review a long-awaited report into an unsolved murder linked to police corruption is “suspicious”, relatives have said.

Daniel Morgan, a private investigator, was brutally murdered in the car park of a London pub in March 1987.

Despite five police inquiries and an inquest, no-one has been brought to justice over the father-of-two’s death, and the Metropolitan Police has admitted that corruption hampered the original murder investigation.

Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair, who has been campaigning for justice for three decades, said the Home Office had “no right whatsoever to ‘review’ the panel’s report”.

“It makes a mockery of the panel’s independence,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’re now looking to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel to defend their independence and fend off this unwarranted intervention from the home secretary. We’re very hopeful that they will.”

A previous statement from the family called the delay a “kick in the teeth”, and said that waiting for the report’s findings had been “torture”.

Raju Bhatt, a lawyer representing Mr Morgan’s family, told the Radio 4 Today programme that his relatives have “every reason” to be suspicious about the motives behind the delay, after decades of failures over the case.

He said: “From the family’s perspective they have every reason to be suspicious about the motives behind this very belated and completely unwarranted intervention by the home secretary.

“We have to remember that the Home Office itself was complicit in the failings to confront this police corruption all through these decades until the panel was set up.”

The independent panel, which was established by Theresa May in 2013, said its findings were originally due to be published in parliament on Monday.

It said it was then told that a backlog caused by Prince Philip’s death had delayed the report until 24 May.

“There was no mention by the Home Office of a need to review the report,” a statement from the panel said.

“However, the panel was informed on Monday that a publication date will not be agreed until the home secretary and Home Office officials and lawyers have reviewed the contents of the panel’s report.”

The Home Office says Priti Patel will lay the report in parliament as soon as possbile
The Home Office says Priti Patel will lay the report in parliament as soon as possbile (REUTERS)

The Home Office says checks are needed to ensure the report complies with human rights laws and does not create national security risks, and that it could make redactions.

A source denied the delay was suspicious and said the report would be laid in parliament as soon as possible.

However, the panel said it had already complied with legal obligations and security checks, adding: “A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.

“The panel believes that this last-minute requirement is unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel’s independence.”

A statement added that the Home Office was to be provided with a copy of the report a working day before it was tabled in parliament as a “courtesy”.

In the inquiry’s official terms of reference, the only role specified for the home secretary is to “make arrangements for the final report’s publication to parliament”.

The panel’s remit was to address questions relating to the murder including police handling of the case, the role corruption played in protecting Mr Morgan’s killer, and the links between private investigators, police and journalists connected to the case.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Under the terms it was commissioned in 2013, it is for the home secretary to publish the report which she hopes to do as soon as possible.

“The home secretary also has an obligation to make sure the report complies with human rights and national security considerations.

“This has nothing to do with the independence of the report and the Home Office is not seeking to make edits to it.

“As soon as we receive the report, we can begin those checks and agree a publication date.

“The home secretary fully supports the family-first approach [of the panel] and is hoping to meet them to discuss the report and its findings in person.”

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