The Home Secretary has ordered that an independent report on the allegations that the murderers were protected by police corruption and corruption allegations in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire should be reviewed by his department before it is released.
The move sparked fury and follows eight years of work by a special group to investigate the 1987 murder of private detective Daniel Morgan, who was found dead in a south London parking lot with an ax driven through his head. .
No one has been convicted of his murder along with key suspects believed to have close ties to News International, and claims police investigations have been botched.
The report was finally due to be published next Monday and the panel has remained silent since it was put in place by former Interior Minister Theresa May.
Priti Patel’s direct intervention was made in private on Monday and Tuesday, the Morgan panel released a scathing statement attacking the intervention warning it would compromise their independence.
The panel, chaired by Lady Nuala O’Loan, is said to be furious at requests it says had never been mentioned before in the eight years since its inception.
The Morgan expert panel said it was told the report would not be made public until it accepted the government’s pre-publication review, which it said violates the understanding he has of his independence.
The panel also claimed that the Home Office wanted the right to hide any part of the report it considered likely to violate “national security” or human rights obligations.
Morgan’s brother Alastair, who led a 34-year-old justice campaign, called the Home Secretary’s intervention “shameful” and told the Guardian the panel should consider legal action to protect the independence of its report.
Morgan told The Guardian: “They have known the terms of reference for the better part of a decade. I think it’s shameful, but typical.
“The panel should consider going to the High Court.”
In his statement, the Daniel Morgan commission of inquiry said that no mention had been made by the Home Office of the need to review the report before its publication until Monday: “The panel was informed yesterday (Monday, May 17) that a publication date will not be agreed until the Home Secretary, Interior Ministry officials and lawyers have reviewed the contents of the Panel’s report.
“No such review has been raised before in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.
He added: “The panel believes that this last minute requirement is unnecessary and is not compatible with the independence of the panel.”
He said a high-level Metropolitan Police team had already checked to make sure nothing in the final report endangered security.
The panel said it had an agreement with the Interior Ministry dating from 2013 limiting the role of the government: “Regarding the publication of the report, the role of the interior minister is limited to reporting to the government. parliament of the Panel’s work, to receive the panel’s report and submit it to parliament. , and then respond to the panel’s findings. ”
The panel added: “The panel is disappointed with this position and hopes the matter can be resolved in time for its report to still be released in May while parliament is sitting.”
The committee’s mandate included “the involvement of the police in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder… and the inability to fight this corruption.
But the panel was also investigating “the impact of links between private investigators, police officers and former News of the World journalists and other parts of the media, and the alleged corruption involved in the links between them.”
Those criticized in the report have already received letters warning them and urging them to respond.
The motive for the murder has not been established. Some believe it resulted from a trade dispute, but following a new investigation, the Met announced in 2007 that the motive for the murder was likely that Morgan “was about to expose a southern drug ring. of London possibly involving corrupt police officers ”.
At least one witness said Morgan was in talks with News of the World to sell an article about police corruption shortly before his death.
The main suspects of involvement in the murder took the Met to the High Court and were named business partners of Morgan, Jonathan Rees, his brothers-in-law, Glenn and Garry Vian. The Met told the High Court that Rees paid Glenn Vian to carry out the murder and that Vian struck twice with the ax.
In 2011, a murder trial collapsed, with the suspects free.
Rees ran a corrupt private agency called Southern Investigations which was paid tens of thousands of pounds by the News of the World. Once, Met Detective Sid Fillery replaced Morgan as Rees’ business partner at the agency and, while at the Met, worked on the first investigation into Morgan’s murder.
The old Sunday tabloid was shut down by Murdoch at the height of the phone hacking scandal.
Southern Investigations’ ties to the Murdoch Empire were so close that two executives created a company whose records show it was registered at the same address as Southern.
Alastair’s campaign languished for years with few remarks. He recently gained attention after the case was seen as a source of police corruption in the Line of Duty TV drama.
A Home Office spokesperson denied that Patel wanted to block or censor parts of the report. They said: “Under her order in 2013, it is up to the Home Secretary to release the report she hopes to do as soon as possible.
“The Minister of the Interior also has an obligation to ensure that the report complies with human rights and national security considerations.
“It has nothing to do with the independence of the report and the Home Office is not seeking to make any changes to it. “