DANIEL MORGAN REPORT: Police officers should have to 'declare freemasonry in confidential register'


POLICE forces should keep a confidential register of officers' membership of freemasonry the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report said.

On Tuesday, the panel published a 1,251 page report that was highly critical of the Met Police after it spent eight years investigating the force's handling of the unsolved 1987 murder of private detective Daniel Morgan and wider corruption issues.

Mr Morgan, 37, (pictured above) was found murdered from an axe in the head in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London, on March 10 1987. There were no witnesses to the murder of Daniel who was joint partner in private eye firm Southern Investigations at the time with Jonathan Rees, 66. After numerous separate police investigations between 1987 and 2002, Rees, who had earlier been in the pub with Daniel, was charged with murder in 2008, as were brothers the late Glenn and Garry Vian and builder James Cook.

Three years later, proceedings were discontinued by the CPS when evidence from known criminal, Gary Eaton, who claimed to have come on the scene shortly after Mr Morgan was attacked, was disallowed after it emerged he had allegedly been coached by an investigating officer on what to say.

The panel said corruption had been involved from the outset of the investigations, but the force had failed to get to the bottom of it through successive probes, and over years it was responsible for "concealing or denying failings for the sake of the organisation's public image" which it said was "dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constituted a form of institutional corruption."

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (above) was also criticised in the report for delaying the panel's inquiry in connection with the disclosure of evidence.

Claims that masonic influence hampered the original investigation into the murder have been made for years.

The panel's report said that Catford Police DS Sidney Fillery, who was removed from the Morgan investigation after just a few days, and later charged with perverting the course of justice before this was also dropped in 2011, was a freemason and became master of two different lodges in 1993 and 1996.

Ten police officers, who were prominent in the Daniel Morgan murder investigations, were also freemasons.

The report said: " A source of recurring suspicion and mistrust in the investigations of Daniel Morgan’s murder has been police officers’ membership of the Freemasons...

"Investigating officers entertained doubts as to whether masonic loyalties, which all Freemasons swear to uphold, might conflict with those which police officers owe to each other and to the public by virtue of their office."

Separately, former Detective Chief Superintendent, David Cook, (above) who was involved in the fourth and fifth investigations into the murder, told Essex News and Investigations that everyone on the team had to declare if they were freemasons and that just two officers who said they were were allowed to remain.

All male officers were also paired with a female, as they were not allowed to join lodges, he said.

But, the panel said it did not see any evidence "that masonic channels were corruptly used in connection with either the commission of the murder or to subvert the police investigations." In September 2016 London Mayor Sadiq Khan (below) ruled out a compulsory register of freemasonry in the Met, after Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrats London Assembly member, asked him to consider such a move “to improve public confidence”.

He said it would go against officer's human rights, but, the panel wants to see this reconsidered.

It added in its report: "Nevertheless, we recommend that all police officers and police staff should be obliged to register, in confidence, on joining the police force or at any point after their recruitment, their membership of any organisation, including the freemasons, which might call their impartiality into question or give rise to the perception of a conflict of loyalties."

Essex News and investigations has heard accounts from several former detectives who claim that after blowing the whistle on alleged police corruption, instead of it being investigated, they were moved roles, forced out or placed under misconduct investigations themselves.

The thinking is that police forces would rather ignore major corruption, than route it out and face the reputational damage it brings.

The panel also received evidence to this effect and as a result has recommended measures are brought in to give protection to police whistleblowers.

The report said: "Policing has long been understood as a profession in which officers stand together – a ‘blue wall’.

"That blue wall existed to enable and support the fight against crime.

"Those working in policing are often in a unique position to bring evidence of wrongdoing by colleagues to their superiors.

"However, in some circumstances police officers who have sought to report wrongdoing have also experienced the blue wall, and have been ostracised, transferred to a different unit, encouraged to resign, or have faced disciplinary proceedings.

"Members of anti-corruption units in police forces have experienced hostility and rejection because of the work which they have been appointed to do.

"The panel received such evidence from serving and retired officers during its work. This is not conducive to a culture of integrity.

"The panel has recommended that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services conduct a thematic investigation of the operation of the practices and procedures introduced following the adoption of the Code of Ethics in 2014.

"This should aim to determine whether sufficient resources are available to ensure appropriate protection of those police officers and police staff (sometimes called whistleblowers) who wish to draw alleged wrongdoing to the attention of their organisations."

The panel also raised concerns about vetting of new recruits to ensure new staff are not involved with criminals and the resources of the police watchdog the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) and its ability to investigate corruption.

The report added: "Without proper resources there can be no effective fight against corruption: we have seen evidence of inadequacies in the resources available for the investigation of alleged corruption.

"We recommend that the Metropolitan Police must ensure that the necessary resources are allocated to the task of tackling corrupt behaviour among its officers.

"Since the Independent Office for Police Conduct also has responsibility for investigating such matters, it too must be properly resourced.

"Having observed current inadequacies in the vetting of police officers and staff and anticorruption controls, we recommend that the Metropolitan Police should not only vet its employees in accordance with recently updated policy, but also that it should ensure that it has adequate and effective processes to establish whether its officers and staff are currently engaged in crime."

Essex News and Investigations has asked the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and the Met if it will be implementing the panel's recommendations regarding a freemasonry register and awaits responses.