Home secretary Priti Patel has been accused of delaying the publication of a report into the murder of Daniel Morgan to protect friends at Rupert Murdoch’s News International.
Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for the Rhondda was granted an urgent question in the Commons on Monday “on the failure to publish the Independent Panel Report on the murder of Daniel Morgan”, a private investigator who was looking into police corruption and links with the press.
Bryant told the Commons that Morgan’s murder 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.”
‘Impossible not to suspect that Murdoch is somehow behind this delay’
The report follows an eight year inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan – a private investigator and father of five – whose body was found in a south London pub car park with an axe embedded in his head. It is due to be published this week but Patel last week insisted it must first be vetted by the Home Office, leading to an outcry and yesterday’s urgent question asked by Bryant in the Commons.
Alastair Morgan, who has been campaigning for three decades to get justice for his brother, said: “I see Victoria Atkins MP [and Home Office minister] waffling about national security which is nonsense as far as I am concerned, adding the report “has already been checked by the panel and the Metropolitan Police in this context.”
He added: “It’s impossible not to suspect that @rupertmurdoch is somehow behind this delay in publication of the Daniel Morgan panel’s report”, and later tweeted: “It’s also rather ridiculous when Priti Patel talks about “national security”. She was sacked by Theresa May for unauthorised meetings with a foreign government.”
Patel has ‘no power in law’ to delay publication
In his address to the Commons, Bryant reminded MPs that the government has already cancelled the Leveson 2 inquiry – that was due to examine the illegal conduct of media companies and their relationships with the press – which Bryant said was promised to Morgan’s family to investigate the 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. Her own terms of reference only allow her to make arrangements for its publication to parliament.”
Bryant said that Daniel’s brother Alistair told him “this has only added to our pain” and is urging Patel to “speedily reconsider her position and to put an end to this unnecessary situation.”
‘Close friends in News International might want to delay or even prevent this publication’
The Labour MP asked the minister if they will “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’s not difficult to see why powerful people with very close friends in 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 [News UK CEO] or with Rupert Murdoch?
“And will she publish the minutes of her and her department’s meetings with representatives of News UK over the last 12 months?
“If not, won’t people conclude that the cover-up is still going on and this isn’t the party of law and order, it’s the party of the cover-up.”
Delay ‘only serves to increase distrust and unease’
Victoria Atkins, the Home Office minister replying to Bryant ignored his and questions from other MPs about meetings between News UK and the home secretary or her advisers. Atkins said Patel has not yet received the report, which she will publish as soon as possible, and added: “The home secretary has responsibilities in terms of national security and the Human Rights Act. Once her duties have been discharged then this report will be published.”
Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper said the delay “only serves to increase distrust and unease” and called for it to be published before parliament rises on Thursday for the Whitsun recess.