The myth that the prime minister and this government is ‘libertarian’

6th July 2021

The myth of the libertarianism of Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, endures.

But it is a myth.

By ‘myth’ I mean that it is a thing that has narrative force, and which some people believe to be true, but it is a thing that is ultimately false.

Johnson is, of course, a political libertine, in that he believes rules – and indeed laws – are for other people.

His government attacks the independent judiciary, the impartial civil service and diplomatic corps and the public service broadcaster, as well as disregarding the speaker of the house of commons, the electoral commission, the ministerial adviser on the civil service code, the panel on appointments to the house of lords, and so on.

And so on.

If his government can get away with weakening or eliminating a check or balance, it shall do so.

It will not be told by anyone what to do.

The politics of Kevin the Teenager.

And this defiance is no doubt the basis of the decision of the government to relax the lockdown, despite various warnings.

Members of the government, and their political supporters, are fed up with being told what to do – especially as the impositions are for the benefit of others.

But.

Is this restless defiance ‘libertarianism’?

Is there a coherent vision of limiting the power of the state vis-a-vis the individual?

This is a government which is seeking to disenfranchise people:

(And here it is nice to have a return of classic David Davis, as opposed to the Brexit variant.)

The government is seeking to ban people:

And this is from just two political Davids alone.

There is also, of course, the similar myth of the prime minister’s liberalism – that he, like Donald Trump, is really at heart just a metropolitan liberal.

Yet many in his cabinet – Priti Patel, Oliver Dowden, Robert Jenrick, Elizabeth Truss – merrily play with the fires of culture wars and the politics of social division and confrontation, rather than promoting the politics of inclusion and solidarity.

The prime minister does not mind or care.

By any serious definition of libertarianism and liberalism this government is neither libertarian nor liberal.

There is no general approach to limiting those with state power to the benefit of those who are affected by state power.

Instead we have a government with occasional twitches and jolts against state power while over time accumulating as much power as possible for the executive and dismantling or dismissing any entity capable of saying ‘no’.

The general approach of this government is authoritarian – though this authoritarianism can be set aside when the power of the state would be for the benefit of others.

There are many words for the general approach of the prime minister and his government, but ‘libertarian’ is not one of them.

**

Please support this blog – and please do not assume it can keep going without your support.

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.

No, this blog is not ‘assisting the corrupt Establishment in hiding the Truth from the British public’

1st July 2021

This is from a submitted comment under one of my posts on the Daniel Morgan independent panel report (of all things):

‘Now, why would DavidAllenGreen want to assist the corrupt Establishment in hiding the Truth from the British public. Does Green hold the public in contempt too?’

The rest of the comment, and the commenter’s earlier submitted comments, will not be published, because I cannot vouch for the substance of the serious allegations.

But the lack of this publication does not mean, I hope, that I wish to assist the corrupt Establishment in hiding (either capital-T or lower-case-t) Truth/truth from the British public or indeed from anybody else.

Indeed, this blog has done as much as it can to set out commentary in respect of the serious and substantiated findings of ‘institutional corruption’ against the metropolitan police.

I have even done a video film for the Financial Times on ‘institutional corruption’ in the metropolitan police, which is hardly an example of the establishment protecting the establishment.

*

But to gain traction with any serious charges of corruption, one needs a methodical, evidence-based approach.

An approach where the ‘c’ word – corruption – is the natural description of what is otherwise set out in detail and is sourced.

There is no doubt that there is widespread corruption, for that is the nature of those with power – and there is no doubt that more could be done by the media to expose the corruption.

But nothing useful is gained by putting the cart before the horse – or the dinghy before the national flagship.

There are different ways of going about it – and because this blog prefers an evidence-based approach in its commentary that does not mean that it is an establishment stooge.

(Perhaps this blog would say that, wouldn’t it?)

The difficulty with making out charges of corruption or of other serious failures is not in making the accusation – which is easy – but in making the charge difficult to evade or dismiss.

Of course, in this post-truth age of hyper-partisanship it may well be that sources and details are not enough – and here on thinks of the accumulation of adverse information about Donald Trump or Boris Johnson – but if anything is to ever have impact, it will need to have some substance to it.

The ‘corrupt Establishment’ is deftly skilled in brushing off even the most serious of complaints and is especially good at deflection when there is more heat than light.

In making it as difficult as possible for things to be deflected is not to hold anybody in contempt.

It is instead to takes things seriously.

**

Please support this blog – and please do not assume it can keep going without support.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT + WHO + WHY + UNREASONABLE + BENEFIT OF ORGANISATION = ‘INSTITUTIONAL CORRUPTION’

27th June 2021

Having set out what the Daniel Morgan independent panel meant by ‘institutional corruption’ in my last post, and having done a Financial Times video on how the panel applied that definition to the metropolitan police, the obvious next questions is whether any other public bodies would also come within this definition.

Or is it a term that can only apply to the metropolitan police in respect of specific matter over a specific period?

If the term ‘institutional corruption’ is to have any import, it must presumably be capable of being applied to other institutions and in respect of other corruption.

*

To remind ourselves, this is how the panel defined corruption in its report:

‘The Panel has adopted a broad definition of corruption for the purposes of its work.

‘The definition below is based on the key elements of dishonesty and benefit, and allows for the involvement of a variety of actors and a variety of forms of benefit:

‘The improper behaviour by action or omission:

‘i. by a person or persons in a position of power or exercising powers, such as police officers;

‘ii. acting individually or collectively;

‘iii. with or without the involvement of other actors who are not in a position of power or exercising powers; for direct or indirect benefit :

‘iv. of the individual(s) involved; or

‘v. for a cause or organisation valued by them; or

‘vi. for the benefit or detriment of others; such that a reasonable person would not expect the powers to be exercised for the purpose of achieving that benefit or detriment.

*

More succinctly, the test for corruption can be set out in four stages:

(1) WHAT – acts and/or omissions constituting the improper behaviour;

(2) WHO – by a person or persons in a position of power or exercising powers (and this may involve other people too);

(3) WHY – for the direct or indirect benefit of the person(s), their organisation or other people; and

(4) REASONABLENESS – a reasonable person would not expect that WHAT to be done(or not done) by WHO for that WHY reason.

*

The panel saw the following failings by senior managers as fulfilling the WHAT + WHO + WHY + UNREASONABLE requirements:

‘i. failing to identify corruption;

‘ii. failing to confront corruption;

‘iii. failing to manage investigations and ensure proper oversight; 

‘iv. failing to take a fresh look at past mistakes and failures; 

‘v. failing to learn from past mistakes and failures;

‘vi. failing to admit past mistakes and failures promptly and specifically;

‘vii. giving unjustified assurances;

‘viii. failing to make a voluntarily commitment to candour; and ix. failing to be open and transparent.’

*

Such corruption would be ‘institutional corruption’ according to the panel as follows:

‘when […] failures cannot reasonably be explained as genuine error and indicate dishonesty for the benefit of the organisation, in the Panel’s view they amount to institutional corruption”

The key term here is ‘dishonesty for the benefit of the organisation’.

Accordingly the full test for ‘institutional corruption’ appears to be:

WHAT + WHO + WHY + UNREASONABLE + BENEFIT OF ORGANISATION

*

The recent scandal of the post office prosecutions comes to mind as another situation that would meet this definition – especially the knowing non-disclosure and attempts to mislead the court.

The panel themselves mentioned ‘the report of the mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, the report by Mark Ellison QC on his review concerning the Stephen Lawrence investigation, the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the subsequent report by the Right Reverend James Jones KCB, the report of the Gosport Independent Panel, and the work of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire.’

And I am sure some of you can think of others.

**

Please support this blog – and please do not assume it can keep going without support.

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.

The meaning of ‘institutional corruption’ – how the Daniel Morgan independent panel set about defining the term

26th June 2021

The independent panel report on Daniel Morgan found that the Metropolitan police was – and is – institutionally corrupt.

To dispute this finding – let alone to attempt to repudiate or refute it – requires you to do one (or both) of two things.

Either you have to challenge the facts on which the finding is based – and this is difficult in respect of the Daniel Morgan report, which is comprehensively sourced and footnoted (and all the report’s critical findings would also have been put to those criticised for their response as part of the preparation of the report).

Or you have to challenge the definition itself.

And so this blogpost sets out the definition adopted and then applied by the panel in the compilation of the report.

*

The relevant part for the definition is deep inside the report, on pages 1022 to 1025 of this pdf (page numbers 1017 to 1021 of the document itself).

The starting point is the terms of reference for the panel, which included:

‘The purpose and remit of the Independent Panel is to shine a light on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan’s murder, its background and the handling of the case over the whole period since March 1987.

‘In doing so, the Panel will seek to address the questions arising, including those relating to:

‘[…] the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption […].’

(Please note that in this post I break the paragraphs of the report out into sentences for flow and sense.)

*

The panel, however, did not just proceed from the terms of reference, but sought to understand what ‘corruption’ meant in this context:

‘The Terms of Reference give a vague formulation of […] the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible.

‘There are two possible interpretations of this.

‘It could mean that,

‘i. one or more police officers became aware after the murder of who was responsible and protected them; or

‘ii. one or more police officers who were not aware of who was responsible for the murder committed corrupt acts for their own reasons, and in so doing compromised the investigation with the result that there was no evidence capable of proving who was responsible for the murder and of bringing them to justice.’

*

The panel then said that it was taking its term of reference,

‘[…] the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption […]’

to mean,

‘whether there was any police corruption affecting the investigation of the murder and making it impossible to bring whoever was responsible to justice’.

Here the panel had regard to the metropolitan police’s own admission that there had been a ‘failure to confront the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice’.

*

So that it how the panel was to interpret its term of reference.

But this does itself not tell us what the ‘corruption’ word means.

As the panel noted:

‘The Panel’s Terms of Reference do not include a definition of corruption.’

As the terms was not defined in there terms of reference, the panel had to work out its own definition.

In doing so, the panel looked at other definitions and uses of the word:

‘The Panel has therefore developed its own definition, drawing upon the definitions of corruption and corrupt behaviour used by relevant bodies.

‘Such bodies include the Independent Police Complaints Commission and its successor organisation, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the National Police Chiefs Council, the College of Policing and the Metropolitan Police.

[…]

‘To inform its analysis, the Panel has drawn upon the report of the mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, the report by Mark Ellison QC on his review concerning the Stephen Lawrence investigation, the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the subsequent report by the Right Reverend James Jones KCB, the report of the Gosport Independent Panel, and the work of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire.

‘These inquiries and reports provide important insights into serious failures of a variety of public services, including but not limited to the police, and address the complex issues of accountability and corruption.’

*

Having had regard to how other inquires and reports have defined and used the word ‘corruption’, the panel also considered the common definitions and uses of the word:

‘The generic definition of corruption is ‘dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery’.

‘This definition suggests that for dishonest conduct to amount to corruption the person acting corruptly must be someone in power or exercising powers.

‘This definition would apply to police forces, prison, probation and healthcare services, or other organisations serving the public.

‘In these settings, ‘corruption’ may denote the misuse of authority in terms of deviance from the law, professional norms, ethical standards or public expectations.

‘In common parlance ‘corruption’ is also used to refer to the venal behaviour of persons who do not hold positions of power, but who do have something to sell, or who act as corrupters in that they bribe persons exercising powers to commit corrupt acts: it follows that people within and outside the police may be involved in ‘corrupt behaviour’.’

*

Having had regard to these other definitions and uses, the panel then went back to its own terms of references:

‘The Panel’s Terms of Reference require it to consider, primarily, wider questions relating to corruption.

‘It is asked to address:

‘i. ‘police involvement in the murder’.

‘By any reasonable person’s definition, if police officers commit or assist in planning a murder, it is not only the most serious crime of taking a person’s life, but it is also the gravest breach of the duties of a police officer.

‘ii. ‘the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption’.

‘The ‘corruption’ is not explained further, but the Terms of Reference refer to the fact that ‘in March 2011 the Metropolitan Police acknowledged “the repeated failure of the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] to confront the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice”.

‘iii. ‘the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and […] the media and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them’.

‘To do this, the Panel has adopted an expansive approach to ‘corruption’, including the conduct of the police and the behaviour of other individuals linked to the police or involved in corrupt activity with them.’

*

So having considered how the term ‘corruption’ is or had been used elsewhere – from similar reports to common parlance, and having also considered what the word must mean in the context of the terms of reference, the panel then set out the definition of ‘corruption’ for the report.

It was a broad and deliberately flexible definition:

‘The Panel has adopted a broad definition of corruption for the purposes of its work.

‘The definition below is based on the key elements of dishonesty and benefit, and allows for the involvement of a variety of actors and a variety of forms of benefit:

‘The improper behaviour by action or omission:

‘i. by a person or persons in a position of power or exercising powers, such as police officers;

‘ii. acting individually or collectively;

‘iii. with or without the involvement of other actors who are not in a position of power or exercising powers; for direct or indirect benefit :

‘iv. of the individual(s) involved; or

‘v. for a cause or organisation valued by them; or

‘vi. for the benefit or detriment of others; such that a reasonable person would not expect the powers to be exercised for the purpose of achieving that benefit or detriment.

‘The Panel has used this definition to consider the conduct of the police officers involved in the investigations of the murder of Daniel Morgan.

‘The Panel includes in its wider definition of corruption some instances of failures on the part of senior officers/managers, acting as representatives of their organisations.

‘The documentation reveals the following wide range of actions and omissions by senior postholders on behalf of their organisations; many of these actions and omissions have been identified in the reports of other independent panels and inquiries:

‘i. failing to identify corruption;

‘ii. failing to confront corruption;

‘iii. failing to manage investigations and ensure proper oversight; 

‘iv. failing to take a fresh look at past mistakes and failures; 

‘v. failing to learn from past mistakes and failures;

‘vi. failing to admit past mistakes and failures promptly and specifically;

‘vii. giving unjustified assurances;

‘viii. failing to make a voluntarily commitment to candour; and ix. failing to be open and transparent.’

*

The panel were also aware that important in understanding any practical definition is an understanding of what is not included:

‘[…] failings do not all automatically fall within the definition of corruption. Some may result from professional incompetence or poor management.’

*

And now the panel comes to what it meant by ‘institutional corruption’:

‘However, when the failures cannot reasonably be explained as genuine error and indicate dishonesty for the benefit of the organisation, in the Panel’s view they amount to institutional corruption.

‘A lack of candour on the part of the Metropolitan Police in respect of its failings is shown by a lack of transparency, as well as prevarication and obfuscation.’

*

The panel then amplifies or illustrates this ‘institutional corruption” term elsewhere in the report:

‘The family of Daniel Morgan suffered grievously as a consequence of the failure to bring his murderer(s) to justice, the unwarranted assurances which they were given, the misinformation which was put into the public domain, and the denial of the failings in investigation, including failing to acknowledge professional incompetence, individuals’ venal behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures.

‘The Metropolitan Police also repeatedly failed to take a fresh, thorough and critical look at past failings.

‘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.’

[…]

‘When failings in police investigations are combined with unjustified reassurances rather than candour on the part of the Metropolitan Police, this may constitute institutional corruption.

‘The Metropolitan Police’s culture of obfuscation and a lack of candour is unhealthy in any public service.

‘Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation’s public image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit.

‘In the Panel’s view, this constitutes a form of institutional corruption.’

[…]

‘Unwarranted assurances were given to the family, and the Metropolitan Police placed the reputation of the organisation above the need for accountability and transparency.

‘The lack of candour and the repeated failure to take a fresh, thorough and critical look at past failings are all symptoms of institutional corruption, which prioritises institutional reputation over public accountability.’

The report also provides explicit illustrative examples of institutional (as opposed to non-institutional) corruption on pages 1073-1075 of the pdf (page numbers 1069-1071).

*

The report describes the careful consideration that went into defining both ‘corruption’ and ‘institutional corruption’.

The challenge, therefore, for those who wish to dismiss the finding of the independent panel that there was (and is) institutional corruption at the metropolitan police is either to deny the examples or to fault its definition and application.

It may be that some of those defending the metropolitan police see nothing (that) wrong in the internal solidarity and reputational protection that the panel describes as ‘institutional corruption’.

That it is not denied that bad things happened, but that they cannot be described as ‘institutional corruption’.

They may just not like such a term being used of such things.

*

Given the care with which the panel considered and then defined (and then applied) the word ‘corruption’ that was expressly part of its terms of reference, any casual knee-jerk dismissal will not be sufficient.

A critic has to do better than to shake their head.

As I have set out in this Financial Times video, the panel have made out a substantial charge of ‘institutional corruption’ – and so this now requires an equally substantial response from the metropolitan police.

**

Please support this blog – and please do not assume it can keep going without support.

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.

 

 

How to show that the Metropolitan Police is institutionally corrupt

25th June 2021

In this Financial Times video out today – no paywall! – I have sought to set out how the 1,200 page, three volume independent panel report on Daniel Morgan substantiates the core charge of ‘institutional corruption’ at the metropolitan police.

Please click through and watch it – and leave any comments below.

(The more clicks and views, the more likely I will be able to do more law and policy videos at the FT – so if you value my law and policy commentary, please do have a look.)

 

My podcast and FT article on the Daniel Morgan report

16th June 2021

I have done a podcast on the Daniel Morgan report – click here for links to the podcast on various platforms.

*

I also have done this piece over at the Financial Times.

*

If you have any (non-irksome) questions on either the podcast or the FT piece – or on the Daniel Morgan report generally – ask below as a comment and I will answer if I can.

 

 

 

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.

The report of the independent panel on Daniel Morgan should be published tomorrow – and three things to bear in mind

14th June 2021

Tomorrow the publication is expected of the report of the independent panel on Daniel Morgan.

We do not know at the moment whether the report will be momentous – or an anti-climax.

Many waited anxiously for, say, the Chilcot report or the Meuller report – only for the news to move on to other things within days, if not hours.

But regardless of the response of news organisations to the report, the report will be significant in its nature – even if it is not momentous in its effects.

*

The report is about three things.

The first is the 1987 death of a private detective in circumstances so brutal that the passage of thirty-four years cannot diminish the horror.

I do not know whether Daniel Morgan was about to uncover and expose police corruption or not when he was murdered – but the motivation for any murder does not really matter.

Even without what followed in the aftermath of his death, it was a singular murder that has never been properly investigated or explained.

*

The second is the messy and corrupt relationships between the private detective industry, the Metropolitan police and the media from the 1980s onwards – as they merrily sold and bought personal information.

Even if Daniel Morgan’s death was not about the potential exposure of corruption, the circumstances of his death was – for those connected with him – something which hanged over everyone involved for over thirty years.

And for some of those connected with him, the murder and its fallout – all those investigations and prosecutions – was no doubt an inconvenience and a perceived ‘problem’ that had to be somehow ‘managed’ while they were all otherwise engaged in the lucrative trade in the supply and purchase of private information.

This is regardless of whether anyone suspected for the murder was actually involved – the investigations and prosecutions never seemed to go away and were, no doubt, a nuisance.

Insofar as this report covers this messy and corrupt set of relationships, it will be the nearest we will probably get to the now abandoned ‘Leveson 2’.

*

Third, there is something rather extraordinary that requires an explanation.

Following Daniel Morgan’s murder there were no less than five investigations and prosecutions – all of which collapsed.

Like those castles built by the king in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, each successive investigation and prosecution seemingly fell into a swamp – but here a swamp of compromised processes and irregularities and acts of self-protection.

It may well be that there were mundane reasons why each of these five investigations and prosecutions failed – and, of course, investigations and prosecutions fail all the time for all sorts of unexceptional reasons.

But how all these five investigations and prosecutions each toppled over is extraordinary – and extraordinary things require explanations, even if those explanations are themselves not extraordinary.

*

I have followed the Daniel Morgan story since 2012 – and I would have blogged more about the case and it possible implications had it not been for the launch of the independent panel inquiry.

The case is potentially a way into understanding what happened at the time between the police and the media and the private detective industry – and how all of this in turn affected public policy and the conduct of the media.

But the human side of this is also crucial.

Alastair Morgan – one of the most decent and determined people you will ever meet – has spent thirty-four years campaigning for justice and to uncover what happened with the death of his brother Daniel and its aftermath.

We should hope the report brings some sense of justice to Alastair Morgan and the rest of 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.

Did the Home Office blink? – the significance of today’s announcement of a date for the Daniel Morgan report

28th May 2021

Today came the news that the publication of the report on the Daniel Morgan independent panel should be on 15 June 2021.

This is the report into the 1987 death of Daniel Morgan, the collapse of the many subsequent investigations and prosecutions, and the existence of (and the relevance of) any corrupt relationships between the police, the private investigation industry and the press.

The statement of the panel is here and should be read in full

This is, of course, welcome news.

It ends the stand-off between the panel and the home office – and, on balance, the home office has given way more than the panel.

The late intervention of the home office – to demand a last-minute ‘review’ of the report – is now unlikely to frustrate the publication of the report.

Delay and blocking

This statement means that, unless something happens to prevent it, there is now a fixed, imminent date for publication.

This should prevent the report being delayed indefinitely by the home office sitting on it during this (supposed) review.

If the objective of the home office was to provide room for delay (or even prevent) the publication of the report, then that objective looks like it has been defeated.

There is a little wriggle-room for potential further delay – but not as much as if there was no date set at all.

Redactions

The statement also deals with the issue of any home office redactions.

Any redactions that the home office insist upon will be identifiable – and so, it would seem, contestable in court.

Each redaction would be an action by the home secretary that could – at law – be looked at by the high court for its reasonableness and relevance.

Any redaction would thereby not necessarily be the end of the matter – but just the prelude for litigation.

The redactions cannot just be silently made, with no one to know.

Again this is a set-back if the objective of the home office was to have room to make such silent redactions.

Forewarnings and leaks

If, however, the home office had as its objective that it would be forewarned of the content of the report, this objective has been achieved.

This means that if – and it is only an ‘if’ – there is anything politically significant in the report then the home office will not have a shock and so will not be bounced.

It also means there is the possibility of leaks from the home office – perhaps to the media – in the days before 15 June 2021.

This is notwithstanding the controlled conditions for the review of the report – which will remind those with longer memories of Robin Cook and the Scott report.

Making sense of the Home Office intervention

As this blog has already averred, there appears to be no good reason for the late home office intervention.

The purported reasons do not add up – and they appear to be improvised and cynical.

As I set out in detail here, the choice of ‘national security’ and ‘the human rights act’ as grounds appear to have been for providing the maximum litigation cover for any home office delay, and not because of any genuine concerns.

I am not a conspiracy theorist by inclination – conspiracies do, of course exist, but usually to hide cock-ups, as only then will a number of people have the motivation and focus to act in concert.

As such I do not think there is any conspiracy between the home secretary and others to try and block or delay or gut the report.

The home secretary may well be (as a lawyer would say) on a frolic of her own in all this, without contact with anyone else with an interest.

It may well be that the home secretary simply did not like the idea of something being published by an independent panel beyond her control or involvement.

But whatever the true motive for the home office’s late bullying intervention, the statement today means that it is more likely than not that we will see the report published in two weeks, and possibly with few if any redactions.

The panel and its lawyers should be commended for facing off this illiberal and misconceived intervention.

*****

Hello there.  Thank you for reading – now help keep this blog available for you and others.

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.

The Daniel Morgan panel report will be the nearest we ever get to Leveson Part II

23rd May 2021

We have a lopsided view of the bad things that were happening in respect of the media around the turn of this century.

The focus has been on the press – journalistic ethics, newsroom culture and the breaches of the civil and criminal law.

But those did not happen in a vacuum.

What elements of the press did was part of a wider problem, which involved the metropolitan police and the private investigation industry.

Of course, the press took advantage of these relations and was the source of a lot of the money involved.

But there were wrongs being committed on the supply-side of the trade in personal information.

Had the Leveson inquiry continued with its phase two – that was to look at the dealings of the press with the police and so on – then we would now have a more rounded picture of what went on.

But the Leveson inquiry will now never continue to phase two.

And so the nearest we will get to a documented understanding of this supply-side will be the independent panel report on the Daniel Morgan case – a case which goes to the heart of the problematic relationship between the press, the police and the private investigation industry.

It may well turn out to be the best record we will ever get of what then happened – and how so many got away with so many things which they should not have done so.