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Daniel Morgan murder – justice lost forever in maze of paperwork

A joint statement released today by the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service appears to rule out any prospect of a re-trial for those suspected of murdering private investigator Daniel Morgan 25 years ago.

Shortly after meeting his business partner Jonathan Rees in a Sydenham pub in March 1987, Morgan was found dead nearby with an axe wound to his head. Case notes had been stolen which may have related to Morgan’s investigations into local police corruption.

Subsequently, several men were tried for Morgan’s murder including Jonathan Rees, Garry and Glenn Vian and former Met officer Sid Fillery – who had replaced Morgan as Rees’s new business partner.

The murder became an embarrassing cause célèbre for the Met, sparking five separate police enquiries and a succession of prosecution attempts which all foundered at court.  It is widely accepted that police corruption initially undermined the case. Subsequently, the misuse of ‘supergrass’ evidence and the overwhelming complexity and volume of evidence proved insuperable obstacles.

Quoted in The Guardian in March 2011, the Met’s Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell offered his apologies to the Morgan family and said: “This current investigation has identified, ever more clearly, how the initial inquiry failed the family and wider public. It is quite apparent that police corruption was a debilitating factor in that investigation. This was wholly unacceptable.”

In a joint statement issued today by Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Met and Chief Crown Prosecutor for London Alison Saunders, it was implicitly accepted that a further trial was impossible:

“This case….was of an exceptional scale and complexity, with over three quarters of a million documents gathered over 20 years being examined.

“The issues around the disclosure exercise were such that we could not guarantee that all relevant material had been identified, considered and disclosed so as to ensure a fair trial. A further factor related to the unreliability of critical witnesses.”

It was made clear that there was also no prospect of further internal investigations: “What the review was not was an investigation into allegations of corruption; nor was it intended to serve the purpose of an investigation for police disciplinary purposes.”

The Guardian has connected Jonathan Rees to the corrupt and corrupting practices highlighted by the Leveson Inquiry. It also questioned why the Met”s Op Weeting enquiry appeared to exclude Rees”s material.

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Photo: Eric the Fish via Flickr

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