Gruesome murder: Daniel Morgan, focus of inquiry into failed police probes

22.03.21
By Mark Watts

Masons in British policing face new scrutiny in the inquiry report on the failed investigations into the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.

The draft report by the inquiry panel raises fresh concerns about freemasonry’s impact on the Metropolitan Police Service’s attempts to investigate the gruesome killing in 1987 and its influence in policing more generally.

One source close to the inquiry panel told me that a junior officer who had responsibility for some initial enquiries into the murder turned out to have been ‘Grand Master’ of the local freemasons’ lodge where his superintendent at his police station was also a member.

“Everyone at the inquiry was shocked to learn that,” the source said. “So who really was the more senior officer?”

The inquiry panel could not, however, find definitive proof that freemasonry was to blame for the police failure to solve the case, according to the draft report. But, the source said, it suggests that freemasonry may have contributed to problems that dogged the investigation.

In addition, the draft report raises doubts that freemasonry is even appropriate within the police because of its secrecy, its competing system of ranks, and its potential for fuelling corruption.

Freemasonry in policing has been controversial for years. The late Sir Kenneth Newman, when he was Met commissioner, told his officers in 1982 that they should not be masons. But masons in the Met responded by setting up their own lodge, the Manor of St James.

The draft also confirms that corruption was widespread among police in the area of south-east London where Morgan’s body was found in a pool of blood, with an axe embedded in his head, in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham.

Again, the draft falls short of saying that corruption – in particular police links with the criminal underworld – caused the failure to solve the case.

The draft is also understood to criticise many Met officers, and condemn close links between Scotland Yard and the defunct News of the World..

Theresa May, as home secretary, set up the ‘Daniel Morgan Independent Panel’ in 2013 to investigate the handling of the case, including possible police involvement in the murder and the role of corruption in protecting the murderers.

The Met had already admitted to a “repeated failure… to confront the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder.”

Sources close to the inquiry, which has cost more than £14m, say that the report was largely drafted two years ago, but could not be completed because of obstacles in accessing all available evidence.

The inquiry panel has since autumn been carrying out what its members call a “fairness process” of seeking responses from parties criticised in the draft, and considering changes as a result.

A spokesman for the panel, chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, former police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, said that it expects to send its final report to the home secretary for publication this “spring”.

One source said that the long-delayed report runs to around 1,200 pages and would be unveiled at a press conference in mid-May.

Alastair Morgan, Daniel’s brother, has persistently campaign to root out who carried out the murder and why. The inquiry has recently asked him to refrain from commenting on the report in the run-up to publication.

No one was convicted of the murder despite five police investigations. Daniel Morgan had set up a private detective agency, Southern Investigations, in 1984 in south London with Jonathan Rees.

Rees was jailed in 2000 for seven years for plotting to plant cocaine on the wife of a client in a custody battle.

Sid Fillery, a detective sergeant, worked on the first police investigation into the murder despite being a friend of Rees. In 2003, Fillery was convicted of possessing paedophile images on his computer.

Following a later police investigation into the Morgan case, Rees and his brothers-in law, Glenn and Garry Vian, together with the alleged get-away driver, Jimmy Cook, were charged in 2008 with murder, and Fillery with perverting the course of justice.

But the case collapsed in 2011 before the trial started.

Rees, the Vian brothers and Fillery later won damages for malicious prosecution in the case.

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Daniel Morgan inquiry: draft report slates hidden influence of freemasonry in police

Pic: Met

Junior officer on murder probe was ‘Grand Master’ of local lodge
• Freemasonry sets up rival system of ranks for police – draft report
• Inquiry panel wrote most of long-delayed report two years ago