LONDON (Reuters) – British police corruptly meddled in shoddy investigations into the brutal murder of a private detective in 1987, then covered up their repeated failings, often by sowing disinformation in the media, a revealed an investigation into the case.
Daniel Morgan was found murdered in a car park behind a south-east London pub on March 10, 1987. He was killed with an ax which was found embedded in the back of his head. No one has been brought to justice for the murder.
After reviewing the evidence, an independent panel painted a grim picture of a police force rife with corruption: some officers had ties to organized crime, some sought to sell stolen information or property, and investigations were often suspect or partial.
In damning verdicts, panel chair Nuala O’Loan said the police had shown “institutional corruption”, while Home Secretary Priti Patel described him as one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the London force.
Although the report found no new evidence of long-standing suspicions of police involvement in the murder itself, the panel was careful to say that such a finding was based on available documentary evidence.
O’Loan was scathing about the way the case was handled – and about the various mistakes, poor police work and the greed of many of the officers involved.
She said opportunities to gather evidence were irretrievably lost during the first investigation, while forensic work in a second investigation was described by a senior officer as “pathetic”.
“Daniel Morgan’s family has suffered greatly because his killer(s) have not been brought to justice: the unwarranted assurances given to them, the misinformation that has been made public and the denial of the flaws in the investigation. said O’Loan at a press conference.
“We believe that concealing or denying defects, for the sake of an organisation’s public image, is dishonesty, on the part of the organisation, for the benefit of its reputation. This constitutes a form of institutional corruption.
London Police Chief Cressida Dick, who was criticized in the report for delaying the work of the panel by not giving prompt access to records, apologized and said she regretted no one was found guilty of the murder.
“Our mistakes have added to the pain that Daniel’s family has suffered,” she said.
Patel said she had asked Dick to provide a detailed response to the panel’s findings and would provide an update when she received it.
“Police corruption is a betrayal of everything the police stand for in this country,” Patel said. “This is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the Metropolitan Police.”
The Metropolitan Police in London has over 43,000 officers and staff and is the largest police service in the UK with 25% of the total police budget for England and Wales.