United Kingdom

Met Police is branded 'institutionally corrupt' over Daniel Morgan murder

Cressida Dick was fighting for survival last night after a bombshell report branded her force 'institutionally corrupt'.

On a shameful day for the Metropolitan Police, a £16million inquiry into the murder of a private investigator accused it of decades of cover-up, incompetence and corruption – that continues to this day.

Dame Cressida, who is Britain's most senior police officer, faced calls for her head after the report concluded she personally placed 'hurdles' in the way of the search for the truth about the death of Daniel Morgan. 

The independent panel found Scotland Yard had been more interested in protecting its reputation than in cracking what has been dubbed the 'most investigated unsolved murder in the history of the Metropolitan Police'.

Baroness O'Loan, who led the inquiry, described the institutional corruption finding as equivalent to the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which concluded the force was 'institutionally racist'. 

Cressida Dick is fighting for her survival following a bombshell report branded her force 'institutionally corrupt'

Daniel Morgan was investigating claims of corruption within the Metropolitan Police when he was murdered in 1987

No one has been brought to justice for the brutal killing of Mr Morgan in a south London pub car park in 1987. The 37-year-old was found with an axe lodged in his skull and £1,000 in banknotes in a pocket.

After five separate criminal inquiries and an inquest, at an estimated cost of £30million, it was hoped that the eight-year public inquiry would finally uncover the truth. 

Instead, it became clear yesterday that the stench of 'institutional corruption' pervading the Met means the family of Mr Morgan are unlikely ever to get justice.

Baroness O'Loan said the failings of the original shambolic murder investigation had been compounded over the past three decades by the shameful attempts to hide the extent of the rot at the heart of the force.

She said Scotland Yard owed Mr Morgan's family an apology for not confronting its systemic failings and those of individual officers, including Dame Cressida.

The baroness accused the commissioner of 'obfuscation' – thwarting attempts to access sensitive documents and police computers, leading to costly delays in the inquiry.

'The family of Daniel Morgan has suffered grievously as a consequence of the failure to bring his murderer or murderers to justice, the unwarranted assurances which they were given, the misinformation which was put into the public domain, and the denial of the failings in investigation, including failing to acknowledge professional incompetence, individuals' venal behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures,' she added. 

Mr Morgan was killed with an axe outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London

Alastair Morgan (right), the brother of murdered private investigator Daniel Morgan, with his family solicitor Raju Bhatt (centre) speaking to the media following the publication of the report

'Concealing or denying failings for the sake of an organisation's public image is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit, and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.'

Concerns about vetting police officers persist to the present day, said Baroness O'Loan, adding that there were no adequate safeguards to ensure that officers were not engaging in criminality.

Professor Rodney Morgan, a panel member, said: 'The term 'institutional corruption' is not used in a historic sense, it's used in the present tense.' Yesterday Mr Morgan's brother Alastair said the family would consider suing the force for putting them 'through hell'.

Asked whether Dame Cressida should resign, he said: 'Yes, absolutely I think she should consider her position.'

In a statement, the Morgan family said: 'At almost every step, we found ourselves lied to, fobbed off, bullied, degraded and let down time and time again. What we were required to endure was nothing less than torture.'

Singling out Dame Cressida for blame, the report said she had not given a 'reasonable explanation' for blocking access to computer data and delaying the release of files, the last of which were provided only in March.

The investigation into Mr Morgan's murder was described as 'shockingly incompetent', with officers failing to search the scene, which was left unguarded, 'pathetic' forensic work and no alibis sought for suspects.

A Home Office source said there were 'serious concerns with the Met's leadership and how it responded to failings' – although Home Secretary Priti Patel and Boris Johnson later expressed confidence in Dame Cressida. 

The commissioner apologised for past mistakes yesterday, saying: 'It is a matter of great regret that no one has been brought to justice and that our mistakes have compounded the pain suffered by Daniel's family. For that I apologise again now.

'I have been personally determined that the Met provided the panel with the fullest level of co-operation in an open and transparent manner, with complete integrity at all times.'

Scotland Yard rejected the report's finding of institutional corruption, with assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave saying: 'It doesn't reflect what I see every day.'

He insisted the panel had been given 'unparalleled access' including to the police Holmes database, adding: 'The commissioner has no need to consider her position. She has overseen disclosure to an extent never seen before.'

The force is conducting a review of the case and has repeated appeals for anyone with information to come forward. It has offered a £50,000 reward.

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