Mapping the Daniel Morgan Murder: Thoughts on the Independent Panel

English: A photo of a traditional "blue l...

English: A photo of a traditional “blue lamp” as located outside most English police stations. This one is outside the Covent Garden Police Station of the Metropolitan Police in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daniel Morgan’s murder haunts the Metropolitan Police Service. They failed to investigate it properly and that failure has raised serious questions about its integrity, judgement, and mandate. Despite five investigations and two trials, they have failed to bring his killer(s) to justice. They have admitted that justice is unlikely because police corruption has clouded the cases.[1] The public outcry over this injustice has increased over the years. The family has fought for 26 years for justice. What increased the pressure was the discovery that News of the World (NOTW) meddled in the case. Even though The Leveson Inquiry avoided the case, the evidence it revealed about the unhealthy relationship NOTW and the police helped to create the pressure for a public inquiry.

Even the Panel has been delayed in its work.

The public inquiry was set up in May 2013.[2] The terms of reference reflect the inquiry’s approach, which follows the Hillsborough inquiry’s model.  The approach is consensual so that people and organisations give documents or take part voluntarily. They cannot be forced to take part or provide documents. As the terms of reference set the scale, scope and seriousness of the review, they decide what it will deliver and what it will exclude.[3]

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference will look at three items.

  • Police involvement in the murder
  • The role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption
  • The incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the News of the World and other parts of the media and corruption involved in the linkages between them.

The first layer: looking at the police circle around Daniel Morgan’s Murder.

This post focuses on the first. Of the three aims, it is probably the easiest to answer. The police involvement in the murder that is known can be traced and explored. We know of certain points at which police officers intersected with Daniel Morgan and those associated with his murder. These connections can be mapped. However, that does not prove police were involved in his murder. We need more layers of analysis to understand this point.

The second layer: looking at who managed the officers.

A second level of analysis would have to look at how we find the extent to which police officers were involved. Here the focus is not on the direct involvement but on the indirect way the police are connected. The second layer is one where the police might have provided support or information to those associated with Daniel Morgan murder. In this layer, there is a deeper challenge as the panel tries to find who helped to undermine the investigations and how they helped to undermine it. The challenge is that the panel cannot escape the problem of incompetence. Some of the officers may have been incompetent or less competent in their tasks and not corrupt.

The third layer: those with no clear link to the murder or investigations

The third layer will be the most difficult to explore. The third layer is to look at the way that the police were involved indirectly. In this layer, the officer will have no immediate or clear contact with the case. Here the panel will have to disentangle the indirect contact of an officer who has no direct stake in the murder, or its investigation, but acts on behalf of those who, because of an existing relationship, are implicated or under suspicion.[4] If we look at the Catford Police station, where it has been alleged that officers were willing to murder, or arrange the murder of, Daniel Morgan we see possible links. The officers there would not have an immediate link to the murder or to those suspected or even to those involved in undermining the investigations. However, those officers and people who have intersected with the various parties will need to be identified and mapped. The case of any officers who had links to Catford would have to be investigated.[5] The past link to Catford and the role in the investigations of related matters can show us where a previous relationship might have been exploited. The relationship appears normal even though it was used to influence the murder investigation or related investigations. At this level, the existing issues within a relationship, such as help or involvement in unrelated operations, becomes an issue. An officer may have helped a friend with a case and one of the parties of interest calls on the favour. Thus, the normal or healthy relationships become a conduit for the corrupt practices. Here the work becomes most difficult, as the potential corrupt behaviour will blur into legitimate behaviour. Two secondary issues emerge. The first is how these relationships will be mapped. The second is how the Panel defines corruption. The rest of the blog covers the first point. The second point is a topic for another blog.

Mapping relationships through records

What we need to answer the first question, and all three questions, is a way to map the relationships.[6] These relationships are mainly in the past so old records such as HR files, complaint files, performance files, and arrest files are needed. The case revolves around records management issues. The integrity and completeness of the records management systems being access will be important[7]. As we have seen from the Home Office records review (The Wanless Report), this is likely to be problematic.[8] Even if the records are incomplete, relationships can be mapped. Once these relationships have been mapped the spheres of influence or possible influence can be shown. This map will help to answer the questions about police corruption and the third issue about where police and media have interacted.

Without a map, how do you find your way?

If the panel are not mapping the relationships, we have to ask how they are going to uncover these issues and the relationships. As there are many tools on the market to map social relationships, the panel can choose from a number of systems.[9] The police college instructs officers on this tool so the systems may already be in use.[10] If the panel decides they will not use them, it raises questions about their ability to deliver the terms of reference.

Access to records and records management will decide if the panel succeeds

The chokepoint will be access to records. If the organisations will not allow access to the relevant files, then the review will be impossible. The family have alleged that the Metropolitan Police have not cooperated with the Panel on providing records.[11] If the police are unwilling to allow to give the records needed for that mapping, the panel will have to decide whether they are receiving the proper help. If the police and other organisations do not cooperate, then the Hillsborough model is called into question.[12] If a cooperative model does not work, then the panel will have to review its approach, as it would be doomed to failure.

More questions to explore

If the panel decides to use a relationship or social network map, it will help them to answer the two remaining questions. How the other questions can be approached for the next essays.


[1] See Review into Operation Abelard II

[2] See Theresa May’s statement here:

[3] As we know from other reviews, such as the Kelly Inquiry, the Chilcot Inquiry, and the Leveson Inquiry; the terms of reference determine the questions and what will be excluded. The terms of reference show as much what the Government wants to do or avoid as it is trying to deliver something to the public. The terms of reference for the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel are found here:

[4] Here we see the central problem of the service and the way that corruption can become endemic and institutionalized. I do not mean that every officer is corrupt. Indeed many are honourable men or women with a high level of integrity. Instead, I mean that the way the service is structured and works means that when corruption takes root it is harder to remove. The officers rotate through a variety of services and corrupt officers develop networks between commands within the Met. Overtime, the networks reinforce each other as officers either ensures their colleagues are promoted or protected without showing the immediate corrupt relationship because it is covered by the normal work and networking of a healthy organisation.

[5] See for example, this blog post where Catford becomes a point of contact for officers involved later in the investigations. Consider a more recent Catford corruption issue.

[6] The NYPD have improved the way they find problem officers by analyzing HR statistics and complaints.

[7] We can see that the records from seven organisations will need to be considered. Each will have their own system and will have variable skills on records management. The police have faced serious challenges over their records management abilities.  One Daniel Morgan case collapsed because record were misplaced. 

[8] The Wanless report on historical records management issues at the Home Office and other departments can be found here: my analysis of the report can be found here:

[9] There are a number of products on the market and they are always being updated. Here is a selection.

[10] See the UK College of Policing trains officers in these methods. A basic map of some of the relationships can be seen at the bottom of this blog post.

[11] See this news story on the delay and disagreement over the protocol for disclosing the records to the panel.

[12] The Daniel Morgan Independent Panel is based on the Hillsborough Inquiry Model, which relies upon a cooperative approach from all parties as no one can be forced to cooperate or provide documents. Such an approach can have success, but it may not provide all the answers. One needs to consider how the Lehman’s Brother’s collapse was investigated through informal interviews and not sworn depositions. see pages 35-37.  However, it is important to understand that there are serious differences between the approaches by Hillsborough that will not work with the Daniel Morgan case. Consider the difference in the terms of reference. The focus is on disclosing information.

The remit of the independent panel will be to:

  • oversee full public disclosure of relevant government and local information within the limited constraints set out in the accompanying protocol;
  • consult with the Hillsborough families to ensure that the views of those most affected by the tragedy are taken into account;
  • manage the process of public disclosure, ensuring that it takes place initially to the Hillsborough families and other involved parties, in an agreed manner and within a reasonable timescale, before information is made more widely available;
  • in line with established practice, work with the Keeper of Public Records in preparing options for establishing an archive of Hillsborough documentation, including a catalogue of all central Governmental and local public agency information and a commentary on any information withheld for the benefit of the families or on legal or other grounds;
  • produce a report explaining the work of the panel. The panel’s report will also illustrate how the information disclosed adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.

A separate essay would be needed to compare and contrast the terms of reference to understand the differences including the issue that no open police cases depend on the Hillsborough Inquiry.



About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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2 Responses to Mapping the Daniel Morgan Murder: Thoughts on the Independent Panel

  1. This is going to be a very complicated task and – as pointed out in this article – completely dependent on cooperation and openness by donor organisations. At this stage, I have no idea whether it will succeed. The Met has so far been obstructive and I do not know whether this attitude will persist. I expect NewsCorp to be completely uncooperative, so the success of this Panel is very much in the balance.

    • Alastair,
      Thank you for the comment. The cooperative model may yet work, but it also offers the best chance for institutional lethargy to The challenge is that the panel is set up on the Hillsborough Inquiry’s model. The difference, though, is that Hillsborough had no outstanding criminal investigations to prevent disclosure or limit what the parties might disclose. By contrast, the Met have investigations that intersect with the Daniel Morgan Public Inquiry as they relate to the News Corporation. At the same time, the public pressure for an inquiry into Hillsborough was greater with many MPs supporting the Hillsborough Family Support Group for a public inquiry. All parties would have an incentive to cooperate and would find it difficult to resist as the government, by opening up its records, had signaled the need for cooperation. Also, by contrast, if a party had failed to cooperate they would have been excluded from the report and been subject to whatever had been disclosed. In that framework, the parties would want to cooperate to make sure their story was told. However, a separate essay would be needed to explore these differences if the panel has not already discussed them.

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