22nd June 2021
I have now read and re-read the Daniel Morgan independent panel report, and here are some thoughts that I do not think I have yet seen elsewhere.
First: corruption and other failings do not only go in one direction.
The problem that is most associated with the Morgan case is that corruption meant that the original investigations did not go far enough.
And this report certainly details the failings of those first investigations.
But what those following the case will perhaps not appreciate is that the later investigations can be regarded as having gone too far.
In particular, the manner in which the most recent investigations went about procuring and even contriving evidence so as to get the prosecutions is uncomfortable reading.
When the court threw out the prosecutions in 2011, it has to be said that the court was right to do so.
There were serious problems about how the prosecution case had been put together.
And botched, over-zealous investigations and prosecutions serve nobody – and even create false hopes
Second, and I will set out in more fully in a Financial Times video later this week: the panel substantiate their finding of ‘institutional corruption‘.
The panel define this term with care and show what comes – and what does not come – within the definition.
The panel then applies the defined term consistently, and the report provides a number of sourced examples illustrating institutional corruption – and showing implicitly why no lesser term would be as apt.
Those – such as former metropolitan police commissioner Ian Blair – who aver that there is no evidence of institutional corruption either have not read the report or are being dishonest.
The evidence is there – detailed and sourced and evaluated – and it is difficult if not impossible to gainsay that it fulfils the defined term.
Third: we may know more why the successive investigations and prosecutions failed, but we are no nearer knowing who murdered Daniel Morgan, and why.
If anything, the report shows the weaknesses of a number of theories about why Daniel Morgan was murdered – for example, the claim that Daniel Morgan was about to expose police corruption.
The murder case is still open – and, indeed, the report even points to a couple of new lines of enquiry.
And finally: some (minor) criticisms.
The numberings of sections and paragraphs of the report are difficult to follow – with paragraph numbering re-starting completely (and confusingly) with each chapter, and this makes it difficult to cross-refer between different parts of the report.
The report should have had a table of recommendations and conclusions – for currently the recommendations (many of which are important) and conclusions are scattered throughout the report and hard to find.
But these criticisms go to form, rather than substance.
In substance, the report will be hard to dislodge as an indictment, and it needs a stronger defence from the metropolitan police than a pretence that there is no evidence of institutional corruption at all.
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