After 36 years the Met has apologised for failings in the Daniel Morgan murder case. Now it must change | Raju Bhatt

Daniel Morgan, a private detective, was found dead in a south London pub car park on 10 March 1987, in circumstances that have given rise to speculation that he may have been killed because he was about to reveal police corruption. No one has been convicted of his murder.

Raju Bhatt.
Raju Bhatt

Over the 36 years since the murder, Daniel’s family have had to endure nine commissioners of the Metropolitan police, culminating in the present incumbent, Sir Mark Rowley.

For Daniel’s family, each of these predecessors of the present commissioner came to represent the consistent failure of courage and integrity among the highest ranks in the Met, in the face of the corruption and criminality that has served to protect those responsible for the murder from justice.

No family should have to go through what this family have suffered. No family should have to find, as they did, their confidence betrayed by those to whom we should be able to turn for help. No family should be cut adrift as they were – and left to fend for themselves in the face of the most serious criminality imaginable. No family should have to bear the immense cost they have paid in terms of their health – mental and physical. Above all, no family should be left to find, as they have, that they are no longer able to place their trust in the police, the state or any other form of authority.

It is only right that the commissioner should be obliged to admit the Met’s liability, and acknowledge how Daniel’s family has been torn apart by the way in which the leadership of the organisation and its officers have chosen to conduct themselves. It is right that the Met should finally accept the fact of the “cycle of corruption, professional incompetence and defensiveness that has repeated itself over and over again”. It is right that there should be an admission of the harm done – to the family and to the public at large – by the way in which the Met has “prioritised its reputation at the expense of transparency and effectiveness”.

Over and above any admission of liability or apology, however, what the Met owes the family of Daniel Morgan – what all of us owe this family – is a debt of gratitude for helping to expose the sickness at the heart of the organisation. It’s a sickness this family has had to live with over the decades, where a perceived need to protect the organisation from reputational damage has served only to nurture a culture of impunity among its officers; a sickness that was recognised and identified as “institutional corruption” in the Daniel Morgan independent panel report in 2021, and acknowledged now by the commissioner as “multiple and systemic failings”.

Whether and how Rowley and his senior leadership team choose to face up to that sickness and to translate the words of his apology into reality – to find the courage and the integrity to do so – is, to put it bluntly, his challenge and his problem. The family of Daniel Morgan have already done more than can reasonably be asked of them.

In this context, we might ask: what is it that has kept this family going, through thick and thin, trying to get the Met to do its job in their search for some semblance of justice? How did they keep going when the Met kept failing them over and over again? It is, perhaps, precisely because of who they are, because of their courage and their character, that they insisted upon their entitlement to place their confidence in the Met. They did so again and again, even after that trust was betrayed. That is perhaps why their sense of betrayal was all the more overwhelming.

Three generations of this family have already suffered from the inexcusable failure of the Met’s leaders to do what was required over the past three and a half decades. They do not want this burden to be passed on to the coming generations of their family. They want to be able to get on with their lives at long last.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button