The chair of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel says the Metropolitan Police’s immediate denial of systemic issues of corruption in the force demonstrates the very problem its report into a 34-year-old unsolved murder highlighted

The Metropolitan Police’s response to the Daniel Morgan murder report is an example of the “institutional corruption” at the force that the independent panel investigating the 1987 killing found to be a key reason why no one has ever been brought to justice for the crime, its author has said.

Speaking to the London Assembly yesterday, the chair of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (DMIP), Baroness Nuala O’Loan, said “we have found the Met to be institutionally corrupt” and “the public statements which we have heard from the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner in the days following the publication illustrate exactly the problem that we have been describing”.

She said that the country’s largest police force had “not responded honestly” to the public or to Daniel Morgan’s family about the serious failures, including incompetence and corrupt acts in the murder investigations” that the report had highlighted and that this amounted to a “betrayal” of both.

“The Metropolitan Police has placed concern for its reputation above the public interest,” she said. “There has been dishonesty for the benefit of the reputation of the organisation and that is institutional corruption and the statements made on behalf of the Met have continued to lack candour, even after the publication of our report.”

The DMIP was established by then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2013 to investigate corruption in the unsolved murder of the private detective in a pub car park in south-east London, as well corruption in the subsequent investigations into the case. 

Although the panel did not conclude what the motive was for Daniel Morgan’s death, it is believed that he was killed because of his knowledge of police corruption. Daniel’s brother, Alastair Morgan, believes that the Met Police was itself involved in the killing. No one has ever been convicted of the murder.  

Last month, the DMIP’s report was finally published, with a landmark finding that the case had exposed institutional corruption within the Met Police.

“Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation’s public image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit,” it stated. “This constitutes a form of institutional corruption”. The panel added that “the historical intelligence examined does not reflect a ‘rotten apple’ model of corruption” but “is indicative of systemic failings, including the existence of a corrupt culture”.

These findings were immediately dismissed by the leadership of the Met Police – including by its Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave who said on the day of their publication that “I don’t accept that the Met Police is institutionally corrupt in the broadest sense” because “it doesn’t reflect what I see every day”. He also told journalists that institutional corruption was “a new term that’s been coined” and that it was “not a term that people are familiar with”.

The Met Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, repeated the denial again yesterday when she told the London Assembly: “In terms of institutional corruption, that’s not the Met I see today… We have undergone massive changes in our accountability, in our openness, in our leadership culture… Our default position, I believe, is to publish and to be open.”

The DMIP made clear on the day of the report’s publication that the finding of institutional corruption was a current, not merely historical, problem at the Met Police.

Describing the ultimate impact of his brother’s murder and the corruption surrounding it, Alastair Morgan told Byline TV in May: “I don’t trust Britain.”

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