How the Daniel Morgan independent panel report substantiates its allegation of ‘institutional corruption’ in the Metropolitan Police

15th June 2021

The report of the independent panel into the death of Daniel Morgan – and how every investigation and prosecution collapsed – was published today.

And if you are to substantiate the serious allegation of ‘institutional corruption’ against the metropolitan police both historically and in the present tense then this is how to do it.

The report is solid, detailed, thorough, methodical, sourced, and it cannot be dismissed.

(Even if the report is ignored.)

It makes out a compelling case of corruption throughout the metropolitan police – and not just some dodgy officers at one police station.

But corruption needs a motive – and this is where the report is at its most compelling – it shows how the police were primarily motivated by reputational imperatives at each stage.

And the report demonstrates that this corruption continued with obstructing the work of the panel itself.

Given the weaknesses of a non-statutory inquiry, this is a far better report than one could have reasonably hoped for – and let us hope it brings at last some sense of justice for the Morgan family.

**

Thank you for reading.

If you value this daily, 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.

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Comments will not be published if irksome.

17 thoughts on “How the Daniel Morgan independent panel report substantiates its allegation of ‘institutional corruption’ in the Metropolitan Police”

  1. Unsurprisingly, a police spokesman has already decided that the Met is not “institutionally corrupt”.
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/daniel-morgan-report-met-police-cressida-dick-b1866460.html

    A brief reminder of Sir Paul Condon’s reaction to the Macpherson report:
    * https://www.independent.co.uk/news/condon-set-to-climb-down-over-institutional-racism-charge-1072575.html
    * http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/294180.stm
    * https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199899/cmselect/cmhaff/81/9031002.htm

    To summarise: Macpherson made lots of recommendations. The police did some things well, and some things less well. There was no “deliberate racism or discrimination” – just some “inappropriate language”. (Echoes of the apologia for the recent Gove judicial review – only “apparent bias”, no “actual bias”, so that is ok is it?). Macpherson created a new definition and by that new and “very testing” definition the police was institutionally racist. But most large public institutions would “find it hard to pass” that test (because everyone is a little bit racist?). In any event it was not the “sole explanation for the failure of the [Stephen Lawrence] case”. Racism was “unwitting, or through ignorance, or through lack of knowledge”. It was six years ago and much has changed. It was a one-off.

    I’m sure books have been written on the tactics to downplay, dismiss, deflect, and deny this sort of criticism: It was more perception than reality. It was just a few accidental slips. It was a few bad apples. Other less damning things went wrong too. It was a long time ago. Much has changed. We apologise if (which implicitly is denied) there were any failures. Lessons will be learned (passively, without saying what lessons, or who will be learning them). Blah blah.

  2. The autobiography of Sir Robert Mark entitled “In The Office Of Constable” includes his time as Metropolitan Police Commissioner from 1972 to 1977. It documents his attempts to root out corrupt officers. Chapter 7 entitled “Crooked policemen”, Chapter 8 “The battle for control of the CID and Chapter 20 “The pornography trials and police discipline” provide his account of how he tried to deal with the problems he inherited.

    Whilst his tenure was well ahead of Daniels murder, his book shows that systemic corruption permeated a perhaps not so small element of Metropolitan Police Officers. Sir Robert had some success in rooting them out and bringing about change. What this report shows is his initial success was not built on.

    We must remember that police officers are drawn from society in general and any corruption, in whatever field, reflects that society. It it something the law abiding must always guard against. It can and will rear its head anywhere – local authorities (remember Poulson), public service contracts and anywhere where there is a buck to be made including political lobbying.

    The report demonstrates how organisations in authority are more concerned with covering up issues which have the potential to show them in a bad light. This is not confined to the Police. One only has to watch the average ‘spokesperson’ trot out the usual ‘learn from mistakes’ line when an organisation is subject of criticism. Institutionally corrupt may well become the buzz words to identify other publicly funded entities. They also need to take heed and expect closer scrutiny.

    There is a basic failure of leadership. Gone seem the days when leaders would fall on their sword for organisational failure. It will be interesting to see whether anyone does as a result of the report.

    Daniel was murdered in a brutal way. We must also remember the considerable number of honest Police Officers who, in the course of their duty, suffered the same fate.

    1. We must remember that police officers are drawn from society in general and any corruption, in whatever field, reflects that society.

      Well yes, but acting corruptly is ultimately a choice, not an intrinsic, inescapable trait.

      At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, there’s something very wrong with The System if it is easy for (let’s call them what they are) criminals are able easily to join a police force: there is supposed to be a thorough vetting process in place (I realise that we’re talking about historical events here – maybe things were very different in The Olden Days) which – properly applied – would surely weed out many who might otherwise be susceptible to temptation…

      1. Yes corruption is always a choice, but sometimes an individual is subjected to powerful threats and intimidation which, in their mind, forces them to act in a certain way. The current BBC Sunday night drama ‘Time’ depicts a prison officer acting corruptly to protect a member of his family.

        That aside, the Daniel Morgan report shows how difficult it was for potential whistleblowers to speak out. In many organisations such as the Police and Health Service, it still is.

        The offences of wasting Police time and obstructing an officer in the execution of his duty are still on the statute book, yet it was the Police themselves who were obstructing and frustrating the enquiry. For these reasons alone, I support the Daniel Morgan family call for Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign.

        1. sometimes an individual is subjected to powerful threats and intimidation which, in their mind, forces them to act in a certain way. The current BBC Sunday night drama ‘Time’ depicts a prison officer acting corruptly to protect a member of his family.

          But we’re not talking about exceptional, in extremis edge cases here, David – we’re apparently looking at a pervasive level of institutionalised corruption.

          That’s evidence of a systemic problem, not of the odd individual going off the rails.

  3. Is Cressida Dick’s position tenable? The report is surprisingly specific in its comments on her. Perhaps that question was the reason the Home Secretary waded in to delay/prevent publication.

    1. “The report is surprisingly specific in its comments on her. Perhaps that question was the reason the Home Secretary waded in to delay/prevent publication.”

      Which (as I have commented before) the Home Secretary may well have been required to do by the Commons authorities in order to get the report published under the protection of Parliamentary privilege.

      Close observers of such things will note the Report was published as a House of Commons paper, not as a Command Paper. That ensures it is privileged. That also requires prior discussion with the House officials of just what material might otherwise be actionable.

      The same Parliamentary process* was used for similarly sensitive reports – eg the Ockenden Review.

      That might also explain why the Panel did not take up the suggestions from some that they should just release the report.

      But that is of course nowhere near as sexy as pointing to the delay as evidence of the Home Sec’s venal motives.

      *”That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, That she will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House a Return of a Paper,…” Forsooth!

      1. Whilst I’m always tempted to suspect the motives of the current Home Secretary, I wasn’t actually trying to be “sexy”. It’s just that the report was delayed and no-one seems to have said why; your explanation is the most cogent I’ve heard.

        As to CD’s position; it does looks as if she will stay in post (although an endorsement from Ian Blair was probably the last thing she needed). The IOPC is making noises but I doubt that much will come of it. Also, I wasn’t trying to be provocative in asking the question about her, either; FWIW, I think she is the best leader the Met has had for a long time, despite her history.

        I do think that the specific attack on her in the report is extraordinary, though. Perhaps the wording would have been different without the cover of privilege.

        1. Do go on, DenTarthurdent. In which respects is Cressida Dick “the best leader the Met has had for a long time”?

          I would suggest that “her history” – that is, the things she has said and done – are precisely the reason she should not be in that office.

          1. I wouldn’t disagree, Andrew. Being the best is more a reflection on the sorry bunch that went before her. Blair, in particular, was more focussed on the PR role of his job than actually attempting to improve policing in the Met area. She has, at least, fought for funding and a return to a workable number of officers in the service, with some success.

            My point is that I was trying to ask a neutral question when I asked if her position is tenable. Most commentators feel it isn’t and, I think, with good reason.

            If she does go, I hope they seriously consider Martin Hewitt for the post. I have met him and I believe that he is decent, honest and will, I think, be open to the reforms that the service needs.

        2. My reference to “sexy as pointing to the delay as evidence of the Home Sec’s venal motives” was not made with your comment in mind but comments (and accusations) made over past weeks by others. Sorry about that. And for this delayed apology.

          1. Thank you Albert, a handsome apology, accepted with gratitude.

            In turn, I am sorry if I came across as overly sensitive to your thoughtful and helpful contribution.

  4. Yes, and yesterday Andrew rightly referred to Hillsborough, where the analogous process of dishonesty amounting to corruption was sustained for decades (and, as in this case no doubt, involving many persons other than police officers as such). I was also reminded of the long running Post Office catastrophe — a wide cast of characters again — where we see the same institutional self-protection at work. Stretching the analogy too wide: the Grenfell inquiry, which ought to be more publicly shocking than it is, suggests a kind of industrial/regulatory lack of integrity that in its different key merits at least the accusation of corruption. No doubt there are many other examples, within the police and wider. The Brexit process itself continues to be a fount of dishonesty.

    As DAG implies, this latest report may well be ignored. We do seem to have integrated, come to terms with, a very high degree of “lack of candour”. We actually don’t expect people to be candid, let alone honest. It is interesting to wonder, and difficult to judge, how new this is, if it is.

  5. The Morgan murder report is supported in virtually every resepct by Graham Satchwell & Winston Trew’s Rot at the Core, which is about police corruption from the ’70s until the present. And it isn’t only reputational damage that corrupt police officers are concerned about. Money is also involved for many. A central aspect of Satchwell’s critique of police corruption concerns the effect of those who ‘enable’ such corruption to take place in the first place. Were it not for them, the amount of corruption that takes place would probably be less and certainly more easily outed and prosecuted.

  6. As a non-legally qualified person this raises questions about reasonable doubt whenever a met officer is giving evidence. As a member of an institutionally corrupt organisation the officer’s evidence is immediately tainted by association. The CPS would appear to have a major problem with all future London criminal cases no matter how strong the evidence appears.

  7. I can already hear a gentle ‘whoosh’ as this report disappears into the long grass. Job done, everybody (who matters) happy.

    £30M down the pan on the nugatory police ‘inquiries’ and a further £12M on the good baroness and friends – for nothing ASFAICS.

    If I had my way I would be taking that £42M and some from the pensions of Cressida and 99 top MET staffers with the clear steer that if there is a next time the amount taken will be quintupled. Pour encourager les autres.

    As it is they won’t care a s**t.

  8. Sadly we can see the way the report is going to be spun already.
    Former Police Commissioner Lord Ian Blair has come out in an interview saying the Morgan report is ‘just plain wrong’ about institutional corruption in the Met and that Cressida Dick was a very fine officer in ‘the great tradition of the Met’.
    On reading his comments I came to the conclusion that the establishment is closing ranks and the Morgan enquiry is to be called ‘unsound’ and therefore ignored.
    Fits with today’s blog of a prominent pro-Brexit (but no fan of this Brexit) trade expert that I follow who points out that the UK leaving the EU far from resulting in more freedom, is resulting in more centralisation, more secrecy and more unaccountability than before.

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.