London

Private detective axe murder case collapses 24 years on

  • 11 March 2011
  • From the section London

The family of private detective Daniel Morgan has called for a judicial inquiry after his multi-million pound murder case collapsed on the 24th anniversary of his death.

Their call came as a senior Scotland Yard detective admitted that police corruption damaged the investigation.

Mr Morgan, 37, was found with an axe in his head in a south-east London pub car park on 10 March 1987.

No-one has been brought to justice despite five police inquiries.

Mr Morgan's family said: "The criminal justice system is not fit for purpose."

Metropolitan Police (Met) Det Ch Supt Hamish Campbell said: "This current investigation has identified, ever more clearly, how the initial inquiry failed the family and wider public.

"It is quite apparent that police corruption was a debilitating factor in that investigation. This was wholly unacceptable."

The case has become one of Britain's longest unsolved murders.

Unofficial estimates put the cost of five police inquiries and three years of legal hearings at about £30m.

Family 'devastated'

Mr Morgan, a father-of-two from Monmouthshire, was found with an axe embedded in his skull outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London.

The family said they were "failed utterly" by all institutions

Five people were arrested in 2008 but two, including a former detective accused of perverting the course of justice, were discharged after a string of supergrasses were discredited.

The Crown Prosecution Service has now dropped the case against the remaining three people - Mr Morgan's former business partner Jonathan Rees and brothers Garry and Glenn Vian.

Mr Morgan's brother Alastair, 62, said: "My family is devastated by this news.

"We put some flowers on the grave. It's just horrible."

He said he believed there had been a number of police cover-ups over the years and alleged his brother was murdered because he was about to expose police corruption.

"It was obvious my brother was going to blow the lid off the links between the police and criminals," he added.

A family spokesman said: "His family have seen that the criminal justice system is simply not fit for purpose to address the crime with which they have been required to live over the last two-and-a-half decades.

"So they have been left with no option but to call upon the Home Secretary today to order a full judicial inquiry into the handling of the case by the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)."

Alastair Morgan added: "For almost a quarter of a century, my family has done everything democratically and legally possible to secure justice for Daniel.

"For much of this time, we have encountered stubborn obstruction, and worse, at the highest levels of the Metropolitan Police.

"We have found an impotent police complaints system.

"And we have met with inertia, or worse, on the part of successive governments.

"We have been failed utterly by all of the institutions designed to protect us."

But he said those responsible for the present inquiry and prosecution had done their best "to redress the catastrophic failures of earlier investigations".

'Wholly unacceptable'

Mr Rees, 56, Garry Vian, 50, and his brother Glenn, 52, all denied murder.

Their associate James Cook was freed in November last year and former detective sergeant Sid Fillery, 63, was discharged in February last year.

The murder charge against Glenn and Garry Vian has been dropped

Outside court, Mr Rees said: "I should never have been prosecuted."

"My sympathy goes out to Danny Morgan's family," he added.

Len Duvall, former chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said officers had been working hard to rectify the force's "wrongs".

"I am in no doubt that if this terrible crime had been committed today, the perpetrators would have been brought to justice," he added.

Det Ch Supt Campbell said: "There are important issues which we need to examine now in order to understand what led to today's decision."

Underworld figures

The family was behind the current investigation by hand-picked Scotland Yard officers.

But the case collapsed before a jury was sworn in.

The CPS statement said: "We have decided that a prosecution cannot continue in these circumstances. We cannot be confident that the defence necessarily have all of the material that they are entitled to.

"This point would be raised by the defence during any trial, so we are no longer satisfied that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is deeply regrettable that, after so long, Daniel Morgan's killers have not been brought to justice.

"The Metropolitan Police inquiry remains open."

The case throws up serious questions about the use of supergrass deals which offer reductions in sentences in return for evidence, and the offer of rewards.

Underworld figures had volunteered to give evidence after a £50,000 reward was offered.

One had a lengthy prison term reduced after agreeing to be a prosecution witness.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites