The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, has been defended by one of her predecessors after an independent inquiry censured her personally for obstruction and found Scotland Yard to be “institutionally corrupt”.
Ian Blair, who served as commissioner from 2005 to 2008, criticised the findings of an independent panel inquiring into the unsolved 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan.
He said Dick, who has faced criticism from some over her involvement in the policing operation in which Jean Charles de Menezes was killed in 2005, was the “finest officer of her generation”.
An independent panel led by Nuala O’Loan found that the Met had put protecting its own reputation above finding Morgan’s killer. The panel’s report said: “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.”
But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, Lord Blair said: “The allegation that the Met is institutionally corrupt is just not true. There is no evidence of systematic corruption in the Metropolitan police. If you then use that to describe a reluctance to come forward, you then have to compare the BBC marking its own homework over Martin Bashir.
“Institutions do have a protective process and I’m sorry about that, but I just don’t believe the words institutionally corrupt in any way reflect what the public understanding of what that would mean.”
The Met admitted in 2011 that the grossly inadequate first investigation into Morgan’s murder, in which the murder scene was left unsearched and unguarded, had been hampered by corruption. But the panel found that corruption continued after the initial inquiry and questioned why no action was taken to bring those who sabotaged the first investigation to justice.
Dick was criticised personally in the 1,200-page document for having initially denied the panel access to the police Holmes database system as it investigated the case.
She did not appear in person to answer journalists’ questions, but instead issued a written statement in which she apologised again to Morgan’s family. She has insisted the force gave the panel’s team “the fullest level of cooperation”.
A string of police investigations and an inquest have failed to convict anyone of Morgan’s killing or any associated corruption in protecting those responsible. The numerous inquiries into the case have largely been due to the campaigning efforts of Morgan’s brother, Alastair, who has fought for justice for more than 30 years.