The son of the murdered private detective Daniel Morgan has said the home secretary has exacerbated the 34 years of agony for his family by blocking the publication of the report into the role police and media corruption played in shielding his killers.
Breaking a public silence of over three decades, the son, also called Daniel, said the report of a panel investigating the 1987 murder should be published, without the government vetting it beforehand.
In a piece for the Guardian, he said: “My family have endured enough words, suffering, waiting and pain: the only currency left with any value to us is action that brings our torture to an end.”
The panel was expecting to publish this coming Monday. However, on Tuesday members were told they could not do so until their report had been passed to the home secretary, Priti Patel, so she could review it and make changes if she thought necessary.
One of the main areas of inquiry for the panel was the conduct of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire, with two of those arrested after the murder having ties to the News of the World, the Sunday tabloid closed after the phone-hacking scandal.
Patel was a guest at Murdoch’s 2016 wedding in London to Jerry Hall. On Friday the Home Office said the home secretary would not discuss her relationship with Murdoch, or her attendance at his wedding, because it was a private matter.
No one has ever been convicted of the murder of Morgan, 37, who was found with an axe in his head in a south London pub car park in March 1987. The Metropolitan police have accepted their efforts have been blighted by corruption.
In the Guardian piece, Morgan’s son dismissed the home secretary’s claims she needed to see the report before publication in case parts of it breached human rights or damaged national security. Well-informed police sources say the case has no national security implications.
He wrote: “I urge the home secretary to stand aside. You say you want to review the report over concerns relating to the Human Rights Act and national security. You know you have made no preparations for any such review, because none was ever envisaged on your part.
“You have said you understand how we feel and you don’t wish to compromise the integrity or the independence of the panel and their work. If this is true, we see no reason for you not to desist immediately, so that the panel’s report may be published as it stands without any further delay.
“And I urge the [panel] to take whatever steps are in its power to stand up to the home secretary, to ensure that its independence and integrity is not compromised.
Morgan, 38, said the lack of justice as well as corruption thwarting justice had made the family’s pain since 1987 worse.
“What remains most sickening is the failure of the institutions of the state to do what was required of them: the failure to address the police corruption that has protected those responsible for the murder from justice; and the repeated failure to confront that corruption over the decades; a failure of the police hierarchy at the highest ranks; the failure of the Home Office which is supposed to be responsible for the police.”
The family had suffered throughout the generations, Morgan said. “We still have unspent grief, 34 years after the murder of my father. At this moment in time it’s a living nightmare.”
In her first public comments the home secretary defended her actions on Channel 4 News. Patel said: “I think it’s important that I, as home secretary, actually receive the report before it is published.
“I have yet to receive this report and I think it’s right that I receive the report and read it before laying it in parliament. That is standard practice when it comes to reports of this nature and that is absolutely the right process to follow.”
The Home Office was asked several days ago to name a precedent for a report of this nature. It has yet to cite one.
The brother of the murdered private detective challenged the home secretary over her remarks.
Alastair Morgan said: “She would have received the report one day before publication, as is the convention, but she blocked publication and insisted she was entitled to redact if she saw fit. This was not part of the deal.”
The standoff between the government and the panel, which is refusing to hand over its report as demanded, continues, as do discussions to try to resolve it.
There is little or no chance the report will be published before parliament goes into recess next week.
The inquiry was ordered in 2013 by the then home secretary, Theresa May.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Under the panel’s terms of reference agreed in 2013, it is for the home secretary to make arrangements for the report’s publication to parliament.
“Until the panel provide the home secretary with the report, she is unable to make those arrangements or meet her responsibilities to ensure it complies with human rights and national security considerations, should these arise.
“We hope the panel will reconsider and provide the Home Office with the report so those checks can begin swiftly and we can publish soon.”