The extraordinary intervention of Priti Patel in delaying publication of the Daniel Morgan report

19th May 2021

This is not a conspiracy theory blog.

Conspiracies do, of course, exist – often to cover up cock-ups, for that is usually the only time when any given group of people have the focus and motivation to act in concert.

But a conspiracy is rarely the first notion that comes to my mind to explain any odd state of affairs.

And so, in respect of the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan, I do not know why he was killed and who killed him.

This is just not safe legal-libel speak: I genuinely have no idea, and I offer no theory.

But what is odd about this murder was the aftermath: a remarkable succession of failed investigations and prosecutions.

Here, again, there may be explanations short of a conspiracy.

Court cases and so on fail all the time, and for various reasons.

And even if those reasons point to systemic failures, often those system failures are not conspiracies but just, well, system failures.


The succession of failed investigations and prosecutions in the case of Daniel Morgan also indicate that there may be concerted wrongful conduct.

And nobody who knows anything about the metropolitan police and their relationship with the tabloid media at the relevant time would be surprised if there had been undue pressure and corruption.

Still: we do not know for certain.

And this is why an independent panel inquiry was set up in 2013 to, as far as possible, get to the bottom of what happened and what, if anything, went wrong.

(My 2012 piece calling for a formal inquiry is here.)


The panel spent eight years putting together a detailed report.

The eight year period indicates the complexity and perhaps the seriousness of the matters being investigated.

And this long-awaited report was about to be published…

…when in an extraordinary intervention Priti Patel, the home secretary, has delayed its publication.


We even have the remarkable sight of Patel relying on the Human Rights Act as part of the excuse for the delay.

As the panel has pointed out – in an impressively robust statement (which you should read) – there is no good reason for this intervention.

None of the supposed reasons add up, and it appears to me that the home secretary’s stated reasons are mere pretexts.

This is an extraordinary intervention by a politician in an independent inquiry.

And it also may be counter-productive – as it is drawing attention to a report that – even if it were critical – may have had little press or public attention.

After all – as I aver above – few would be surprised that bad things were happening at the time with the police and the media.

So, even if there is something in there which Patel, for political reasons, did not want in the public domain, her delay may be bringing attention to a thing others may have preferred were left not emphasised.

Some commenters believe that the report will be an exposure of the corrupt relationships between the media and the police of the time.

I have no idea.

But many will be even more interested in the report now after Patel’s extraordinary and perhaps clumsy intervention.

And we should hope that the report when published finally brings some justice for the family of Daniel Morgan who have campaigned tirelessly since his death for the truth to be revealed.


Hello there. 

If you value this free-to-read and independent legal and policy commentary for you and others please do support through the Paypal box above, or become a Patreon subscriber.

Each post takes time, effort, and opportunity cost.

Suggested donation of any amount as a one-off, or of £5 upwards on a monthly profile.

This law and policy blog provides a daily post for you and others commenting on and contextualising topical law and policy matters.


You can also subscribe for each post to be sent by email at the subscription box above (on an internet browser) or on a pulldown list (on mobile).


Comments Policy

This blog enjoys a high standard of comments, many of which are better and more interesting than the posts.

Comments are welcome, but they are pre-moderated.

Comments will not be published if irksome.


14 thoughts on “The extraordinary intervention of Priti Patel in delaying publication of the Daniel Morgan report”

    1. Odd

      I have linked to the panel’s press page instead, which links to the statement

  1. No good reason for the intervention beyond the desire of the Home Secretary to intervene whenever possible?

    Drawing attention to the report that might otherwise attract little media or public attention (apart from parts of the public who were already aware of the case?)

    Or another dead cat, we get so many these days.

  2. From my reading of the panels’ statement it appears the Home Office hadn’t at the time of the delay received the final report: “The Home Office was informed several months ago that it would be provided with an embargoed copy of the final Report a working day before it was due to be tabled in Parliament as is the usual courtesy to the sponsoring department.”

    This is curious as unless the Home Office (or individuals within the Home Office) have received a partial copy due to being subject to criticism so they can respond or they’ve had such a copy shared with them it’s hard to see how they could have sufficient knowledge of the report to object to publication.

    My suspicion is that this is another manifestation of the current Government’s need for control. We saw this during the early days of COVID and during Brexit where companies and experts were not permitted to participate in discussion with government without draconian NDAs.

    1. The panel had apparently written to all parties subject to criticism in the report, in order for them to prepare their response.

      My guess is that one or more of those parties rang up Priti Patel and asked for a favour…

  3. It’s be interesting to know if the HO is the true originator of the obstruction, or if its acting on Murdoch/someone else’s instruction. Another sign of this being a Potemkin government. How to bring it all into the light and get rid?

  4. The Guardian quotes the panel’s faith in consistency and precedent: “A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.”

    However to live amicably with the present Home Secretary and the government she fits within they would do better to pay more attention to the signals of the moment, as demonstrated by this admirable chap: “The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker’s hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia! “

  5. The Home Secretary is sandbagging. What possible national security implications could there be from an 8-year inquiry into the murder of a person nearly 35 years ago? It is so long ago that relevant papers could have been released under the 30 (now 20) year rule. What possible human rights implications could there be that have not already been taken into account?

    I understand the report was already at the printers. It would be a shame if a copy leaked. Perhaps one did already, and someone did not like it. Who knows.

  6. As a layman I would welcome clarity om a point of law. The panel’s t.o.r. state* it is the Home Secretary who is to publish the report. Is she then responsible for its content – like eg a newspaper publisher – and so well-advised to review it? Or can she – like eg Twitter and Facebook – push it out and tell anyone who is upset (or sues) “not me ‘guv”?

    *”The Independent Panel will present its final Report to the Home Secretary who will make arrangements for its publication to Parliament.”

    1. If it’s published to Parliament then isn’t it privileged anyway, making the argument moot?

      1. 2 points.

        First, “publication to Parliament” is not the same as “publication by Parliament”.

        Second, I am not up to date on the law on Parliamentary privilege. But in the 1990s it was the generally accepted view that the protection of the 1840 Act did not extend to everything published by Parliament. See e.g. the First Report of the Parliamentary Privilege Cttee in 1999at 343 et seq.

  7. The Home Office’s references to national security and human rights seem to indicate they will be relying on s25 of the Inquiries Act and the Michael Stone case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.