DANIEL MORGAN MURDER: Priti Patel may 'cover up' parts of overdue panel report, delaying publication
PARTS of a long-awaited report into the role police corruption played in preventing proper investigations into the death of private detective Daniel Morgan may be covered up at the request of Home Secretary Priti Patel, it emerged today.
Mrs Patel (above) has angered relatives of Mr Morgan and the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, set up to look into police investigations into the murder, after she delayed the publication of the report.
Mrs Patel said the delay was so the Home Office can review its contents to see if it complies with national security and human rights legislation.
Mr Morgan's body was found slumped by his BMW in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, South London, on March 10 1987. Despite several people being arrested, including the original senior investigating police officer, no one has been convicted and there have been allegations of major police corruption during subsequent investigations. Detective Sergeant Sid Fillery, of Catford Police Station, was assigned to the original case, but failed to tell superiors of his association with Jonathan Rees, Mr Morgan's business partner in PI firm Southern Investigations. Six people, including Mr Fillery, Mr Rees and his brothers-in-law Garry and the late Glenn Vian, and two other Met Police officers were arrested on suspicion of the murder in April 1987, but were all later released without charge. With four further investigations it has been the force's most heavily investigated murder at a cost of more than £30 million, with no one ever convicted. The panel was set up two years after the last prosecution collapsed.
The report was first due to be published yesterday (May 17), and then was expected out on Monday, May 24.
The eleventh-hour change has angered both the panel and the family of Mr Morgan (above).
A panel spokesman said: "The panel had anticipated the report would be tabled in Parliament, in accordance with its terms of reference, by the Home Secretary on May 17 2021. "Last week the panel was advised the Home Secretary was unable to table the report in Parliament on May 17, that May 24 would be the best option and it was hoped this would be the publication date."
The death of the Duke of Edinburgh and local elections was the reason for the delay given to the panel by the Home Office.
The spokesman added: "There was no mention by the Home Office of a need to review the report.
"However, the panel was informed yesterday that a publication date will not be agreed until the Home Secretary and Home Office officials and lawyers have reviewed the contents of the panel's report. "This review is being sought on the basis of the Home Office ensuring the report's compliance with the department’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and for reasons of national security.
"The Home Office advised it would make redactions if it did not consider the report complied with these obligations."
The panel made clear its dissatisfaction with the late change from government. The spokesman added: "A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013. "The panel believes that this last-minute requirement is unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel’s independence. "The panel has worked closely with its QC counsel and its solicitors throughout the course of its work to ensure the report complies with all the relevant legal obligations including the Human Rights Act 1998. "A senior specialist Metropolitan Police team, subject to strict non-disclosure agreements, also reviewed all relevant parts of the near final report as part of a security check governed by an agreed protocol with the Metropolitan Police. This review enabled the report to be checked for any potential security risks. "The Home Office was informed several months ago that it would be provided with an embargoed copy of the final report a working day before it was due to be tabled in Parliament as is the usual courtesy to the sponsoring department.
"This would have been effectively three days ahead of the report’s publication because of the intervening weekend."
The panel statement added that the intervention went against the panel's terms of reference when it
was set up by former Home Secretary Theresa May (above), who said it would take about a year to complete its report, in 2013.
The spokesman said it had been agreed that the Home Secretary's role was just to "report to Parliament on the panel's work, lay it before Parliament, and then respond to the panel's findings. The spokesman added: "The panel is disappointed with this position and hopes the matter can be resolved in adequate time for its report to still be published in May while Parliament is sitting. A statement released on behalf of the family of Mr Morgan said: "The family had been given every reason to believe that the panel’s report was to be published on May 24 with the agreement of all concerned up to and including the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. "However, it appears that the Home Secretary has decided, very belatedly, to prevent the publication of the panel’s report until she and her lawyers have reviewed its contents. “This unwarranted and very belated interference by the Home Secretary amounts to a kick in the teeth for us as the family of Daniel Morgan. "We have been living through the torture of waiting to see the panel’s report over the last several years, months and weeks. "We have been waiting for the report so that we might understand for ourselves the sorry saga of police corruption and repeated failures to confront that corruption behind the failed investigations over the decades since the murder in 1987. "We know from our own bitter experience that the Home Office over those decades was complicit in that sorry saga, at least until 2013 when the then Home Secretary established the panel to help bring the truth to light. "In that context, the current Home Secretary’s actions serve only to betray and undermine the very purpose of the panel. “The Home Secretary’s intervention is not only unnecessary and inconsistent with the panel’s independence, as the panel has indicated in its statement today. "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. "We call on her, even at this late hour, to try to understand her limited role in relation to the panel and the need for sensitivity and basic human decency in the exercise of her powers, mindful of the unending distress she is causing to each and every member of our family. “
A Home Office spokesperson denied Patel wanted to block or censor parts of the report. They said: “Under the terms it was commissioned in 2013, it is for the home secretary to publish the report which she hopes to do as soon as possible.
“The home secretary also has an obligation to make sure the report complies with human rights and national security considerations.
“This has nothing to do with the independence of the report and the Home Office is not seeking to make edits to it.”
ESSEX NEWS & INVESTIGATIONS OPINION:
This is a bad move by the Home Secretary. To consider redacting parts of an independent report that was looking at cover ups and corruption in a murder investigation will only fuel fears that we will never get to the truth about dark forces within the police force at the time of this brutal killing.
The publication of the report has already been delayed by seven years after the Met took ages to provide all the crates of evidence. Hiding behind 'national security' which gets rolled out as often as 'data protection' is ludicrous. There is nothing in this murky case that would threaten national security. Human rights is another good one! The panel has already allowed everyone named in the report to see what they were planning to say and allowed them to respond before making sure neither of these issues were breached in the final publication.
Note to panel - leaks to email@example.com.