On 10 March 1987, Daniel Morgan was found murdered in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London. Morgan had been murdered with an axe in an attack so shocking it remained in the headlines for weeks afterwards.
Fast forward thirty four years, and an independent inquiry into the murder and subsequent Metropolitan police cover-up has exposed a shameful pattern of corruption among some of the country’s top coppers, including Met commissioner Cressida Dick.
Daniel Morgan was a private detective based in south London. Along with his business partner Jonathan Rees, Morgan ran an agency called Southern Investigations. Rees and his business associate Paul Goodridge would later go on to do extensive freelance work for right-wing tabloid News of the World.
In April 1988, more than a year after his murder, an inquest into Morgan’s death records established a verdict of unlawful killing. In June that same year, Jonathan Rees and Paul Goodridge were charged with murder.
The case against Rees and Goodridge was dropped in May 1989. And despite Rees being charged again in April 2008, the faulty investigation and false arrests uncovered a series of failings by lead investigators, and wilful obstruction of Morgan’s family in their search for justice.
The Morgan family had been calling for a public inquiry for decades. After being repeatedly refused by successive home secretaries, including in 2004 under the then-Labour government, in 2013 it was announced that an inquiry would finally take place.
A further eight years later, a panel of independent experts has branded the Met ‘institutionally corrupt’ over its cover-up of Daniel Morgan’s killing. Met commissioner Cressida Dick was also personally censured for her role in the cover-up, prompting calls for her resignation.
The inquiry found that the Met officers had been complicit in shielding the killers, and that the murder went unsolved, despite the facts of the case being easily established. “The Metropolitan police’s culture of obfuscation and a lack of candour is unhealthy in any public service”, the report read.
When asked about the findings, the Morgan family detailed decades of obstruction by the Met. Daniel Morgan’s brother, Alastair, who had spearheaded the family’s struggle for truth and justice, reiterated calls for Dick’s resignations, saying his family had been “lied to, fobbed off, bullied [and] degraded”.
Very little justice, too much peace
The Morgan inquiry has revealed what many working-class and oppressed people already know: that the police cannot be trusted. The home secretary Priti Patel and Labour London mayor Sadiq Khan closing ranks to protect the Met commissioner confirms another: Tories and the Labour right represent the same ruling class as the police.
Calls for Cressida Dick’s resignation are righteous, but the resignation of the Met commissioner would not represent justice. Replacing one top copper with another, possibly more reactionary one will not solve the institutional corruption in Met.
More than a management change, the Morgan inquiry confirms the necessity of disbanding the Met. The labour movement must seize this opportunity to demand disbandment, and do everything it can to grow militant and coordinated opposition to new police powers, starting with the recent PCCS Bill.