Daniel Morgan: Met handling of murder ‘one of most devastating episodes’ in police force’s history, says Priti Patel

But Priti Patel also criticised for delaying publication of report into case

<p>Priti Patel </p>

Priti Patel

The home secretary has condemned the handling of the murder of Daniel Morgan as “one of the most devastating episodes” in the history of the Metropolitan Police.

Priti Patel has written to Met Commissioner Cressida Dick to demand answers after an independent panel accused the force of “institutional corruption”, following a £16m probe into the unsolved murder of the private detective.

Father-of-two Mr Morgan was brutally killed with an axe in the car park of a south London pub in 1987.

Despite four police investigations, an inquest, disciplinary action, complaints and other operations, there have been no successful prosecutions.

A report released today found the force’s “first objective was to protect itself” over allegations that corrupt officers were involved in the murder.

But Ms Patel herself and her department also faced criticism over her controversial decision to delay the publication of the report last month, arguing that she needed to read it first and citing “national security”.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan, the chair of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, criticised the move saying it was not “justified in this case".

Questions were also raised about the role of the Home Office, following a tweet by Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s special adviser when the former prime minister was home secretary. He wrote on Twitter that he had pressed for an inquiry into the murder at that stage but that a senior Home Office official had “argued we could not have one because ‘who knew where it would end up’ given historical corruption in the Met”.

After the report’s publication, Ms Patel told MPs “Daniel Morgan deserved far far better than this”.

The “deeply alarming” findings revealed examples of corrupt behaviour and a litany of mistakes by the Met which “irreparably damaged the chances of successful prosecution,” the home secretary said.

She told the Commons: “The report accuses the Metropolitan Police of a form of institutional corruption.

“Police corruption is a betrayal of everything policing stands for in this country. It erodes public confidence in our entire criminal justice system. It undermines democracy and civilised society.”

While the “overwhelming majority” of officers use their power honourably she criticised those who do “terrible harm” by misusing it or who “indulge cover-up or ignore corruption”.

She announced she had written to Dame Cressida Dick to demand a detailed response to the panel’s recommendations for the Met.

The home secretary has also asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to consider how best it can look look at the issues raised by the damning report.

And she said an upcoming review of the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) would be brought forward and would now start this summer.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs Alistair Carmichael accused Ms Patel of political interference over the report.

He said: “It is totally unacceptable for the Home Secretary to have held up the publication of this crucial report for four weeks.

“For no good reason, Priti Patel has extended the agonising wait for Daniel Morgan’s family and all those interested in uncovering the truth about his murder.

“The government must guarantee that in future any independent reports like this will be completely free of political interference and not suppressed or delayed by government ministers.”

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