Daniel Morgan: Fury as Priti Patel intervenes to delay report into 'corrupt' murder probe

19 May 2021, 11:35 | Updated: 19 May 2021, 12:16

Daniel Morgan was found with an axe embedded in his head on 10 March 1987.
Daniel Morgan was found with an axe embedded in his head on 10 March 1987. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The family of private investigator Daniel Morgan has reacted with fury after Home Secretary Priti Patel stepped in to delay the publication of a long-awaited report into his unsolved murder.

Mr Morgan was found with an axe embedded in his head in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London on 10 March 1987.

Nobody has been brought to justice over the father-of-two's death, despite five police inquiries and an inquest, and the Metropolitan Police has admitted corruption hampered the original murder investigation.

An independent panel examining the case was due to publish its findings on Monday after eight years of work assessing the role corruption played in protecting Mr Morgan's killer, and the links between police, private investigators and journalists connected to the case.

However, on Monday, the Home Office announced that it wanted to review the document, expected to contain "a sizeable chapter" on police corruption, and would keep parts of it secret if it felt this to be necessary.

A Home Office spokeswoman said Priti Patel has an obligation to make sure the report complied with human rights and national security considerations.

But the panel itself has slammed the "last-minute requirement" as "unnecessary and... not consistent with the panel's independence."

They added they have already worked with lawyers to ensure its report complies with human rights legislation, as well as a specialist Met Police team to ensure it poses no security risks.

"In relation to report publication the home secretary’s role is limited to reporting to parliament on the Panel’s work, receiving the panel’s report and laying it before parliament, and thereafter responding to the panel’s findings," they added in a statement.

The family of Daniel Morgan have reacted with fury to Home Secretary Priti Patel's intervention.
The family of Daniel Morgan have reacted with fury to Home Secretary Priti Patel's intervention. Picture: PA

Mr Morgan's family said on Tuesday that the report's delay was a "kick in the teeth" and served only to "betray and undermine the very purpose of the panel".

In a statement, they added: "The home secretary's intervention is not only unnecessary and inconsistent with the panel's independence.

"It is an outrage which betrays her ignorance - and the ignorance of those advising her - with regard to her powers in law and the panel's terms of reference.

"It also reveals a disturbing disregard for the public interest in safeguarding the independence of the panel and its report.

"For us as the family of Daniel Morgan, the home secretary's belated and unwarranted interference in this process is simply unacceptable."

Daniel Morgan&squot;s family have described Priti Patel&squot;s intervention as "an outrage which betrays her ignorance". (Left to right) Isobel Hulsman, Alistair Morgan and Jane McCarthy, the mother, brother and sister of Daniel Morgan.
Daniel Morgan's family have described Priti Patel's intervention as "an outrage which betrays her ignorance". (Left to right) Isobel Hulsman, Alistair Morgan and Jane McCarthy, the mother, brother and sister of Daniel Morgan. Picture: PA

The family's lawyer Raju Bhatt said Mr Morgan's relatives have "every reason" to be suspicious about the motives behind the move, after decades of failures over the case.

"From the family's perspective they have every reason to be suspicious about the motives behind this very belated and completely unwarranted intervention by the home secretary," he told the media.

"We have to remember that the Home Office itself was complicit in the failings to confront this police corruption all through these decades until the panel was set up."

But, responding to the fury, a Home Office spokeswoman said: "This has nothing to do with the independence of the report, and the Home Office is not seeking to make edits to it.

"As soon as we receive the report, we can begin those checks and agree a publication date."