This Christmas the long-suffering campaigner Alastair Morgan should be seeing the proposed report into the alleged corrupt links between the Met Police, journalists on the News of the World and the undercover world of private investigators following the brutal murder of his brother, Daniel, some 27 years ago.
Theresa May, the home secretary, when she set up the inquiry in May 2013 promised it would aim to report by this Christmas.
But instead – partly thanks to enormous foot-dragging by the Met Police – the inquiry has barely begun.
As I reported last week on the Exaro website – it is only in the last few weeks – that the Met Police – has finally handed 50 crates of documents connected to this case. And we still do not know whether this is everything or whether the documents are in good order.
It seems quite clear that the Met Police – which could face itself having to answer some very difficult questions when this report is published – has done everything to frustrate this inquiry going about its business.
This has wider significance since the inquiry is one of the innovative independent panels set up after the successful inquiry headed by Bishop James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, into the Hillsborough scandal.
This foot-dragging by the Met raises questions about the powers such inquiries have – since it has no power to compel the Met Police to hand over anything and it looks like Cressida Dick, assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, took every opportunity to delay handing everything over.
It also re-opens the issue whether the new overarching child sex abuse inquiry – which I return to in another blog later – will be able to do its job when demanding information from public bodies.
The murder of Morgan, co-founder of a private-detective agency, Southern Investigations, who was found with an axe in his head in 1987 in the car park of a pub in south London, was a scandal in itself. Despite five police investigations into the case, nobody has been convicted for the murder.
No wonder Alastair Morgan told Exaro: “It appears that the Met has been allowed to use every opportunity to obstruct and delay the process at every turn. I am sickened by such behaviour from a service funded by the public. It can only be described as disgraceful.
“I have little doubt that the Met will continue to try to obstruct and delay the work of the panel, without taking any account of the decades of pain and frustration that my family has suffered as a result of their failure to confront the corruption and criminality that seems endemic within their ranks.”
The Met themselves say it took so long because they had negotiate such a detailed protocol to hand over the information. But I am not impressed.The whole idea of an independent panel is that it has its first duty is to families of people who have suffered gross injustices that the existing system has failed to bring to a proper resolution.
Plainly in the Daniel Morgan case this has not happened.
I can only hope that Nuala O’Loan, the replacement chair of the Daniel Morgan inquiry, who I am told is a formidable figure with a tough reputation as the first Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland, gets a proper grip on this now the Met have handed over the files. She needs to get on with the job pronto.
Otherwise it will be a gross insult on top of a gross injury to Alastair Morgan and his family who have suffered far too much already.
Failure will also bring the whole system of independent panels into disrepute – so let’s see some action now.
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