The family of the murdered private detective Daniel Morgan are to sue the Metropolitan police for damages, alleging that a decades-long cover-up of corruption is continuing.
An official inquiry in June found that the Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, obstructed the panel appointed by the government to investigate claims that corruption blighted the hunt for Morgan’s killers and that the Met had failed to root it out.
Morgan was found with an axe in his head in a south London pub car park in 1987. He and his business partner, Jonathan Rees, ran an agency called Southern Investigations, which carried out extensive work for the News of the World.
No one has been convicted of his murder and the Met has previously accepted that corrupt officers shielded the killers. The Morgan family has decided to sue in part in frustration at what they see as a continuing cover-up.
Despite the inquiry’s stark findings against Dick, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac), the body that oversees the Met, decided she would not face disciplinary action. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is still to make a decision in relation to Dick and other Met officers past and present.
The Morgan family’s solicitor, Raju Bhatt, said the civil claim alleged misfeasance in public office as well as breaches of the Human Rights Act. Dick would be named as a defendant, with the lawsuit alleging widespread wrongdoing as identified by the report.
Bhatt said: “The claim alleges deliberate abuse or bad faith in the exercise of powers by any officer of the crown with knowledge or reckless indifference to the consequences of such conduct.”
The claim dates back to 1987 and alleged wrongdoing immediately after the killing, when one suspect worked on the murder investigation, running through to recent years.
Bhatt said: “The repeated failure over decades to confront … corruption includes the obstruction of the independent panel’s work and the response of the Met to that panel’s findings.”
The Met rejected the findings of the panel, insisting it was not institutionally corrupt and that it had not obstructed its work. The panel blamed obstruction for its inquiry taking eight years as it fought for documents.
Morgan’s brother Alastair has fought for more than 30 years and is exasperated that the inquiry findings have led to no action.
In a statement, the Morgan family said: “The present commissioner, Cressida Dick, felt able to simply reject the panel’s key finding of institutional corruption within the Metropolitan police. Her role in obstructing the panel’s work – as detailed in their report – appears to have met with indifference and worse at the IOPC and Mopac where those charged with bringing her to answer for her role in this sorry state of affairs have shown themselves unable or unwilling to do so.
“And, in their wisdom, the home secretary and the London mayor deemed it fit to extend her term in office before the ink had dried on the panel’s report.
“We consider we have been left with no option but to bring a civil claim against the Metropolitan police in order to achieve some semblance of accountability. To that end, our solicitors have sent a letter of claim to the Metropolitan police directorate of legal services, and we await their response with interest.”
The Met said it received notice of being sued last Tuesday. It said: “Since the Daniel Morgan independent panel published its report six months ago, a dedicated team within the Met has been established and is progressing its response to those recommendations specific to the Met, while engaging with other lead organisations named in the report. We remain committed to this work and expect to fully report our progress to the home secretary and mayoral office in spring 2022.”
The IOPC said: “We are undertaking our own assessment to determine whether there are any conduct matters identified within the report for any named police officer, including the Metropolitan Police Service commissioner and former commissioners, that may require a referral to us.”