How will the police be reformed after the damning report on the murder of a private detective – who had been investigating police corruption?
And how can we trust any measures when the current Metropolitan Police Commissioner actively participated in the corrupt cover-up of what happened to Daniel Morgan – and the current Home Secretary wanted to edit the independent report on this fiasco before the public could see it?
Do we all know the story? Morgan’s body was found in a south London car park in 1987, an axe buried in his head. He had been investigating police corruption.
To date, no fewer than five investigations have been conducted into the murder. Nobody has been convicted.
In 2013, then-Home Secretary Theresa May launched an independent inquiry to examine “police involvement in Daniel Morgan’s murder, the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice, and the failure to confront that corruption”.
It also looked into “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them”.
When the inquiry panel tried to publish its report in May, current Home Secretary Priti Patel tried to interfere, saying she needed to see it and may need to censor any part of it that she could claim might affect national security or human rights obligations.
She had no right to do so. The panel objected in the strongest possible terms and Patel had to back down. The report has been published in full today (June 15).
It reveals that the Metropolitan Police is “institutionally corrupt” and singles out Met Commissioner Cressida Dick for personal censure.
Panel chairman Baroness Nuala O’Loan said the Met’s first objective in its approach to the inquiry was to “protect itself” for failing to acknowledge its many failings since Daniel Morgan’s murder in 1987.
Its handling of the investigation into Morgan’s death was “institutionally corrupt” and placed concerns about its reputation above its duty to investigate the murder properly.
The Met deliberately misled the public and Morgan’s grieving family.
It delayed handing over vital documents to the inquiry panel, thereby hindering its own work. An investigation that was not expected to take long ended up being stretched out over eight years.
Then-Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick – along with her successors after she was promoted – was responsible for refusing to provide access to this information and never provided a reasonable explanation.
The inquiry panel’s report states [boldings mine]:
“The family of Daniel Morgan suffered grievously as a consequence of the failure to bring his [killer] to justice, the unwarranted assurances which they were given, the misinformation which was put into the public domain, and the denial of failings in investigation, including failing to acknowledge professional [in]competence, individuals’ venal* behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures.
“The Metropolitan Police also repeatedly failed to take a fresh, thorough and critical look at past failings.
“Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation’s public image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.”
“The Metropolitan Police were not honest in their dealings with Daniel Morgan’s family, or the public. The family and the public are owed an apology.”
A statement by Morgan’s family condemned “a culture of corruption and cover up in the Metropolitan Police, an institutionalised corruption that has permeated successive regimes in the Metropolitan Police and beyond to this day.
The independent panel made a number of recommendations which include:
- Law enforcement agencies should be subjected to a newly created “statutory duty of candour”.
- Metropolitan Police should properly vet employees and have “adequate and effective processes” to establish whether any officers and staff are “currently engaged in crime.”
- The force should make sure it has the necessary resources to tackle corrupt behaviour among its officers and to ensure police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct is also sufficiently resourced to investigate such matters.
- An investigation should be carried out by another police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), looking at police practices and procedures to determine whether “sufficient resources” are available to protect police whistleblowers.
I have absolutely no confidence that any of these recommendations will be honoured by those concerned.
Patel has made a statement in Parliament, saying she has demanded a full response to the report from Dick. I have no confidence that anything these two cook up between them will bear any relationship to the facts; they will try to mislead us again.
If Patel could be trusted to do her job properly, she would have already demanded the suspension of Dick and every other police officer involved in this 34-years-long corrupt cover-up – all of them.
She would then invite law enforcement officers from a completely different place – possibly even from a different country, because I don’t think anybody here can be trusted to be honest – to investigate their roles and determine whether and what criminal charges should be levelled against them.
This is a most serious matter; we are seeing corruption at the heart of the police and government – of an ingrained, institutional nature.
And the Tories – themselves proven to be institutionally corrupt over the last two years of Boris Johnson’s government – are entirely unfit to tackle it.
*Showing or motivated by an inclination towards being bribed; corrupt.
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