After an eight-year probe into the murder of Daniel Morgan, an independent panel has found the Metropolitan Police to be guilty of “institutional corruption”, a claim which the establishment has been quick to deny.
Mr Morgan, a private investigator, was planning to sell a story about police corruption to the press before he was brutally murdered with an axe in the car park of a pub in south-east London in 1987.
The panel confirmed that although its investigation focused on historic failures stemming from the 1987 killing, the term ‘institutional corruption’ was used “in the present tense”.
The report said there were severe failings in the initial investigation into Mr Morgan’s death, when there were immediate suspicions over the involvement of corrupt police officers.
The panel found the crime scene was not searched, interviews were not properly carried out, and suspects were forewarned of their arrests, meaning potential evidence had been “irretrievably lost”.
The eight-year investigation, which was initially planned to last just twelve months, was severely delayed as investigators were not given immediate access to police records and computer systems.
The report states that the force's first objective was to protect itself, concluding that "Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation's public image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constitutes a form of institutional corruption."
At a press conference following the panel’s conclusion, assistant commissioner of the Met, Nick Ephgrave, rejected the panel’s label of “institutional corruption” and said he did “not see evidence that supports that assertion”.
“I don’t accept the Metropolitan Police Service is institutionally corrupt in the broadest sense,” Mr Ephgrave said.
“It doesn’t reflect what I see every day. That isn’t to say we have not made many mistakes over 34 years and many errors, or that people have not fallen short of the standards we expect, or done things we don’t want them to do.”
The senior officer claimed the Metropolitan Police had improved the way it dealt with corruption and had one of the largest anti-corruption units in the UK.
Although Commissioner of the Met Police, Cressida Dick, has apologised to the Morgan family, she and her colleagues have denied calls for her resignation.
The findings of the panel have made the public wake up and smell the bacon, with even the major TV networks, including ITV and Channel 4, running segments questioning whether the police are fit for purpose. Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, retired senior police officer Sir Peter Fahy remarked on a culture where large organisations such as the police, government, and BBC fail to tell the truth in order to protect their image.