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Daniel Morgan: Independent Panel Report

Volume 696: debated on Monday 24 May 2021

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she will publish the report of the independent panel into the death of Daniel Morgan.

Daniel Morgan’s murder in 1987 was a tragedy compounded over decades by the absence of a successful conviction in the case. Our thoughts remain with Mr Morgan’s family. They have had to wait an incredibly long time for answers and it is essential that they get them. As the House will be aware, the Daniel Morgan independent panel was set up in 2013 by the then Home Secretary. The panel was commissioned to leave no stone unturned and the review has taken eight years.

The terms of the review set out that the independent panel will present its final report to the Home Secretary, who will make arrangements for its publication to Parliament. The chair of the panel has informed the Government that the report is now complete and that she has undertaken all her required checks. This is an important milestone. Once the panel provides the Home Secretary with the report, my right hon. Friend will make arrangements to lay the report in Parliament, as is her duty according to the terms of reference. The Home Office has asked the chair of the panel to agree a process for sharing the report with the Department in order to proceed with its publication.

Finally, I return to Mr Morgan and his family. After 34 years of heartbreak, it is the sincere hope and expectation of the Home Secretary, and indeed all of us, that Mr Morgan’s family will receive answers to the many questions that surround the terrible circumstances of his death through the publication of this report.

I am sorry, but it was not a tragedy; it was a crime. Daniel was axed to death in a car park on 10 March 1987—34 years ago—and thanks to corruption in the police and interference by News UK, the family have had no justice. That shames all of us. The Government have already cancelled the Leveson 2 inquiry, which was promised to Daniel’s family as a means of investigating that corruption, but now the Home Secretary has blocked publication of the independent panel report, saying that she wants to review it. She has no power in law to do that. It is not covered by the Inquiries Act 2005. Her own terms of reference allow her only to make arrangements for its publication to Parliament.

Daniel’s brother Alastair told me, “This has only added to our pain”. He urges the Home Secretary speedily to reconsider her position and to put an end to this unnecessary situation, so will the Minister agree a date with the independent panel and Daniel’s family today for publication this week, and will she undertake to publish the report in full—without deletion, amendment or redaction—because people are worried that she is not going to do that?

It is not difficult to see why powerful people with very close friends at News International might want to delay or even prevent this publication, so has the Home Secretary, or any of her advisers or officials, had any formal or informal discussion or correspondence on this matter with News UK, with Rebekah Brooks or with Rupert Murdoch? Will she publish the minutes of her and her Department’s meetings with representatives of News UK over the past 12 months? If not, will not people conclude that the cover-up is still going on, and that the Conservative party is not the party of law and order, but the party of the cover-up?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions and for bringing this urgent question to the House, because he has set out some of the reasons why this case is so very important. Indeed, we note that this review, which was directed by the then Home Secretary in good faith eight years ago, has taken as long as it has to work through the evidence.

The allegation that publication has been blocked is not correct. One cannot block the publication of a report if one has not yet received it. The Home Office has not received the report. As I said in response to the urgent question, the Home Office is working with the chair of the panel to agree a date for publication. [Interruption.] There is some chuntering from a sedentary position.

In terms of the contents of the report, I spoke only this afternoon to the Home Secretary about this matter. There is a very real wish—on both sides of the House, I think—to see this report published and to see answers for the family. As I say, she will be looking at this report. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. The reason the process for publication has been set out as it has is that it is in the report’s terms of reference from 2013, with paragraph 6 stating:

“The Independent Panel will present its final Report to the Home Secretary who will make arrangements for its publication to Parliament.”

The Home Secretary will be entering into that agreement in good faith and the report will be published.

I know there has been a question about redaction, editing and so on—that will not happen. The only caveat —I say this because I am aware of my duties at the Dispatch Box—is that, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the Home Secretary, like any other Home Secretary, has responsibilities, both in terms of national security and the Human Rights Act—

The hon. Gentleman dismisses national security with a wave of the hand, but these are the responsibilities any Home Secretary must abide by. That is the only caveat. Once those duties have been discharged, this report will be published. Again, we welcome the report and we look forward to receiving it from the panel when it is passed to the Home Office, and then the report will be published.

I thank my hon. Friend for updating the House on the current position. Clearly, all of our thoughts are with the family and friends of the late Daniel Morgan, who was savagely murdered. They have had to wait an extended period for justice to be served. Will she therefore give us a timetable for when the Home Secretary will lay the report before the House, so that Members of the House can ask appropriate questions about this inquiry, and about not only why it has taken so long, but its findings?

The slight difficulty I have in setting out a timetable is that because we have not yet received the report, we do not know how long it is, the issues raised therein and so on. The Home Secretary is clear that after 34 years the family, understandably, wants this report and wants to see its conclusions, so the Home Office will be working expeditiously to lay this report before Parliament, as set out in the terms of reference of the panel review.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) on securing this urgent question, and I should say that a member of Daniel Morgan’s family is a constituent of mine. It is the family who should be uppermost in our minds today, and they have said:

“This unwarranted and very belated interference by the Home Secretary amounts to a kick in the teeth”.

It is 34 years since Daniel Morgan’s horrific murder and we have had five failed police investigations, a collapsed trial, an inquest, but no justice for the family and no answers. The independent panel was set up in 2013 to find answers, and the expected publication date was 17 May, yet we have more delay. There is no doubt that the report considers profound issues of corruption and trust in institutions, but the Minister will be aware of the panel’s strong condemnation of the intervention of the Home Secretary, on the basis that it is

“unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel's independence”.

The justification given is to check on human rights compliance and to ensure national security is not compromised, but the independent panel itself said that a

“senior specialist Metropolitan Police team”

carried out a security check—-it has been done already—so can the Minister explain why a further security check is necessary?

In addition, the panel’s terms of reference make it clear that the Home Secretary’s role is limited to receiving the report, laying it before Parliament and responding to the findings. Can the Minister explain how this intervention and supposed check by the Home Secretary is consistent with those terms of reference? How will the Home Secretary be working with the family and the panel to address these very serious concerns? When will they actually agree a date finally for publication of an unredacted report, rather than prolonging the agony that the Morgan family have been going through?

The right hon. Gentleman eloquently set out the terrible experiences of the family over the past three decades and more. It is precisely because of the trauma that they have suffered over the years that the review was commissioned. I know that the right hon. Gentleman joins us in wanting to ensure that the panel report is as thorough as possible and that it is now published. There is no disagreement at all between him and the Government on that. We want to publish the report but we have not yet received it. The Home Secretary will make arrangements for that in line with the terms of the review—that is what we want to happen. The Home Office is very much in conversation with the panel to get the report and make the arrangements. When that has happened, the report will be published.

Given the outrageous history of corruption, injustice and delay in this case, the requests by Daniel Morgan’s family are surely entirely reasonable, so will the Home Secretary meet the family? Will she agree that the timetable for the publication of the report should be very short indeed? In particular, the presence of a suitably experienced solicitor and QC on the panel means there should be almost nothing that the Home Office could possibly have any concerns about. Why was the panel first told that the delay was down to the elections and the period of mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh and the consequential backlogs in respect of documents being laid before Parliament?

On the issue of trying to build confidence in these processes, why cannot there be an independent body that can adjudicate on such issues? Will the Minister acknowledge that perceived ties and links between the Home Secretary and news organisations is all the more reason for such an independent process to exist in this case? May we have full disclosure of all the meetings and correspondence between the Home Office and news organisations under investigation by the panel? Finally, if the panel points to the need for Leveson 2 to be revived with far greater powers than the current panel enjoys, will that happen, and if not, why not?

Sadly, the hon. Gentleman asks me to speculate about a document that the Home Office has not yet received. We cannot publish the report until it has been received. If I may, I wish to correct one point that the right hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) also made in his contribution. The panel may well have conducted its own checks, and quite rightly so—it is bound to do so—but the Home Secretary, of course, has her own responsibilities that she cannot transfer to anyone else. That applies to every Home Secretary.

In relation to national security concerns, I hope Members will understand that the Home Secretary has access to information that very few people in this country have access to. She must discharge her duties in accordance with her wider responsibilities as Home Secretary. I underline again the fact that the Home Secretary, the Home Office and the Government want this report to be published. We want the review’s findings to be in the open so that some of the questions that have been posed over the years are answered. We hope there will be some sense of justice for those most closely related to Mr Morgan.

The failure ever to prosecute anyone for the terrible murder of Daniel Morgan and the continued allegations in respect of police corruption and media collusion make this an immensely important report. I do not know whether the Minister understands that the way she is talking about the report—reviews by the Home Secretary and the Home Secretary having access to additional information she has to review the report against—serves only to increase distrust and unease in what is already, clearly, a distrustful process that should never have become so. To restore trust for the panel and, crucially, for the family, will the Minister commit that the report will be published before Parliament rises for the Whitsun recess, if the Home Office receives the report this week?

The right hon. Lady sets out the seriousness of the situation, and I do appreciate that, as I hope was apparent from my earlier comments, but I make the point again that I cannot commit to a publication date if the Home Office has not yet received the report. Please, give us the report and we can then publish it.

Daniel Morgan Jr., Daniel Morgan’s son, lives in my constituency, and I spoke to him this morning. I met Daniel at an advice surgery back in 2019, when he came to see me to ask if I could write to the then Home Secretary about the delay to the inquiry. The then Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), wrote to me in 2019. He shared the concern that the inquiry was taking a long time, as one would imagine, and said to me:

“As it fulfils this important work the Panel’s investigation is rightfully independent of Government, but the Panel must deliver its findings to Parliament and to the Morgan family as soon as possible.

I am certain that you will understand that it would be improper for a Minister to seek to influence any decisions made by the independent Panel.”

My constituent has been waiting 34 years since the death of his father to see any kind of justice, so why does this Home Secretary not agree with the former Home Secretary that it would be improper for a Minister to seek to influence any decisions made by the independent panel, and will she publish any advice from officials explaining why her powers have changed? Will she meet my constituent?

I thank the hon. Lady for bringing forward the very human aspect of this. I know that we are talking about a report and a review process, but at the heart of this has been the family. In fairness, if one looks at the written ministerial statement issued by the then Home Secretary when the review was announced, one sees that it was made clear that the family must be at the heart of the process. The review has taken eight years, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), the previous Home Secretary, set out to the hon. Lady, we could not—would not—interfere with the conduct of that review. That is why, in a way, we are in the position we are in. The panel has its report; it has, we have been told, now finalised the report; under the terms, we will receive the report and then publish it. The only caveat is in relation to national security considerations—for which, in fairness, the Home Secretary has responsibility in a whole host of regards. However, that is the only caveat, so the report will be published. We look forward to receiving it from the panel, and I hope it will give answers to the hon. Lady’s constituent and to others.

It is well established that there were significant failings and delays in investigating both the murder of Daniel Morgan and the subsequent claims of corruption and malpractice. As others have said, this is clearly damaging to the family of Daniel Morgan and also others involved in investigations. They include one of my constituents, who has raised serious allegations about the Metropolitan police’s conduct, about which I have written to the Secretary of State on more than one occasion, and to which, frankly, I have received not hugely helpful responses. Now it seems that the Home Office is willing to delay justice and further erode trust in the police service by preventing the truth of these failings from becoming public. Looking forward, will the Minister explain exactly what action she will commit to on behalf of the Home Office to ensure that future investigations are carried out independently, rigorously and timeously, in order to prevent further injustice?

I imagine the chair of the panel will say that her review has been conducted independently, rigorously and timeously. The Home Secretary cannot publish a report until she receives it, and that is the situation we are in. We all want answers. These are incredibly important issues that have been raised during the course of the review. A great deal of time has elapsed since the horrific murder of Mr Morgan, and the report I hope will answer some of the questions that have been posed in relation to that.

I have a long-term interest in this case through a campaigning lawyer, Mr Glyn Maddocks, who works with me as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on miscarriages of justice, along with my co-chair the hon. Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt). This case was brought to me many years. I have even visited the Golden Lion car park, where this horrible murder took place, but the puzzle today is this. I have a lot of time for this Minister, but it should have been the Home Secretary here today. It is with some puzzlement that we hear that the report is finished after eight years rather than one. It was a report set up by a former Home Secretary, who then became Prime Minister. We were all told that this expensive inquiry would come out last weekend, but immediately we were told that it cannot be seen because of national security. Either they have seen it and decided there is a problem with national security, or they have not seen it. The fact of the matter is that justice must be done in this case, and we need to see the report. Can the Minister give us the date? When can we see it, because we want it now?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. Again I reiterate, because I understand the concern, that there is no question of the report being blocked, edited or changed in the ways that people are concerned about. As I said, it will be published. The only caveat is that if there are matters in there that relate to national security, and those are duties that any Home Secretary must abide by, but she and everyone else wants this report to be published and for those questions to be answered. In terms of the date, again, I make this point: we cannot publish something if we do not yet have it.

I cannot help thinking that if things had been the other way around, and Sun journalists had lied to procure an interview with the late Princess of Wales, and the BBC were alleged to be involved in covering up the reason for a brutal murder on the streets of London, the action on the Government Benches to this and the previous item of business might have been very different.

Can the Minister give an assurance that as soon as what should be an extremely quick check on national security and other concerns has been carried out by the Home Secretary, Parliament will see the report before anyone else? In particular, can she give an assurance that there will be no opportunity for Maxwellisation, which would allow those who were rightly criticised in the report to get their story into the press before the report is made public and made available to Members of Parliament?

I am not going to draw analogies between the facts of this terrible, terrible case and the headlines and facts that have emerged in relation to Princess Diana. I think both cases and both people deserve their own moment. The previous urgent question concerned the late princess. This UQ concerns Mr Morgan, so I will confine myself to him. In terms of the process, at the risk of repeating myself, the report has been prepared by the panel. The panel has taken eight years to gather evidence. One can only imagine—I am speculating, because I have not seen it—what the product will be after eight years’ worth of work. That is why, in accordance with the terms of the inquiry, the Home Secretary will make arrangements for it to be laid in Parliament. Of course that means that Parliament will see it.

In relation to the Maxwellisation process, I do not know the process that the panel has gone through, but the Home Secretary has a duty under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to threats to life, but that is the only consideration that will be in her mind—that, and national security. We have no interest in editing this report—none whatever. We want the truth to come out.

Five police investigations failed to find the person or persons responsible for Daniel’s murder, but they did find evidence of police corruption. Police officers and News UK reporters are alleged to have corrupted these investigations in the 1980s, the 1990s, and the years after 2000. Throughout these 34 years, Daniel’s brother, Alastair Morgan, has led the campaign for justice for Daniel. The Daniel Morgan independent panel was promised access to Metropolitan Police Service files, but not to any material held by News UK. Given News UK employees’ alleged involvement in the cover-up of Daniel’s murder, will the Home Office now re-establish the Leveson part 2 inquiry, which has the necessary power to investigate News UK, or do the Government intend to allow potentially guilty parties in relation to this case to go free?

I want to bring the hon. Lady’s attention back to this urgent question, which is about the report that the panel has drawn up following eight years of research and investigation. We want the report to be published and the truth to come out. When we receive the report, we will, in accordance with the terms of the inquiry, publish it and make arrangements for it to be laid before Parliament. There is nothing further that I can add to that because we have not yet received the report. We await it, along with everyone else, and look forward to the panel providing us with it.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that I should not comment on what has just happened, because that would be to keep the debate going—I have got a genuine point of order coming—but I would briefly point out that national security can be used to cover anything, even a mention of the Metropolitan police.

My serious point of order—I hope the Minister listens to it—is that there are, I think, at least eight named day written parliamentary questions on the Order Paper for answer tomorrow. The Home Office has been particularly bad at replying on the named day to named day parliamentary questions of late, and it would be enormously helpful to re-establishing trust if the Minister could ensure that they are all answered tomorrow. I do not know whether you have any means, Madam Deputy Speaker, of relaying that information to the Minister.

The hon. Gentleman is, of course, very clever in his making of a real point of order and seeking to continue the argument that has just taken place during his urgent question. I will ignore the part of his point of order that was not a point of order, and answer him quite simply by saying that I have relayed the points that he has made to the Minister by means of raising my eyebrows, and the Minister, by means of nodding her head in a most ladylike and professional fashion, has shown me that she has heard the point of order.

The serious part of the hon. Gentleman’s point of order is that when questions are submitted for a named day, the Department to which they are submitted ought to pay attention to that and not merely to ignore it. Mr Speaker has said many times over these last few months that many questions are taking too long to be answered. I have every confidence that the hon. Gentleman’s questions will be answered on the correct day and that, if they are not, he will raise the matter again, and whoever is in the Chair will look upon the matter with great seriousness.

I now very briefly suspend the House, this time for only two minutes, in order that arrangements can be made for the next item of business.

Sitting suspended.

On resuming

Finance Bill (Ways and Means) (Value Added Tax)



(a) (notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the practice of the House relating to the matters that may be included in Finance Bills) provision may be made in relation to the Protocol on Northern Ireland/Ireland in the EU withdrawal agreement about value added tax and distance selling,

(b) provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made about the value, for the purposes of the Value Added Tax Act 1994, of a supply of imported goods of a low value that fall within section 21(5) of that Act (works of art etc), and

(c) provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made amending section 42 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018. —(Tom Pursglove.)

Finance Bill (Programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the Order of 13 April 2021 (Finance (No. 2) Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:

(1) Paragraphs (8) and (9) of the Order shall be omitted.

(2) Proceedings on Consideration —

(a) shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table, and

(b) shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.



Time for conclusion of proceedings

New Clause 23; remaining new Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the subject matter of clauses 6 to 14 and Schedule 1

Three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this Order

New Clause 25; remaining new Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the subject matter of Clauses 109 to 111 and Schedules 21 and 22

Four hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this Order

New Clause 2; remaining new Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the subject matter of Clause 88 and Schedule 16; remaining new Clauses, new Schedules and amendments to Clauses and Schedules; remaining proceedings on Consideration

Five hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this Order

(3) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this Order.—(Tom Pursglove.)

Question agreed to.