Axe murder ‘cover up’ fears as lawyers slam Priti Patel for report delay

Lawyers for a man cleared of a private investigator’s axe murder claimed Priti Patel could spark fears of a cover-up after delaying a report into the death.

Jonathan Rees’ solicitor joined critics of the Home Secretary and described her decision as “astonishing”.

Daniel Morgan was found in a pub car park in Sydenham, South East London, with an axe in his head after going for a drink with Mr Rees in1987.

Mr Rees, Daniel’s business partner, was later charged with murder but the case collapsed in 2008 and he won a payout from the Met Police along with other co-defendants.

It had emerged a key witness in the trial had been having unauthorised meetings with the officer leading the case.

In a statement, David Ware, a senior partner of Freedman Alexander, claimed Scotland Yard had misled the trial judge and called on the report to address this issue.

He wrote: “It astonishes us the panel set up to conduct the independent inquiry (in June 2014 by Theresa May ) has only just produced their report.

“It astonishes us the current Home Secretary has prevented the report from being published.

“She will no doubt seek to redact key aspects which will then satisfy no one and will lead the public (who are paying for the panel’s inquiry) to believe there is a cover-up.

“It astonishes us our clients were not permitted to make representations to the independent panel, even though our clients were the wronged parties and even though they had thousands of documents which the panel should have considered.

“It astonishes us the huge costs paid by the public for the independent inquiry and the costs and damages paid (and yet to be paid) by the Metropolitan Police in various losing legal actions (all at taxpayers’ expense) seem to be of no concern to the Met Police.

“We believe the trial judge was misled by the Met Police and would hope the inquiry has addressed that matter.”

After Ms Patel’s delay, Baroness O’Loan, chair of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, asked the Home Office on Tuesday to guarantee publication of the 1,200-page report by June 16.

Daniel’s brother Alastair blasted Ms Patel, saying he hopes the panel will “fend off this unwarranted intervention from the Home Secretary”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Under the Panel’s terms of reference agreed in 2013, it is for the Home Secretary to make arrangements for the report’s publication to Parliament.

“Until the Panel provide the Home Secretary with the report, she is unable to make those arrangements or meet her responsibilities to ensure it complies with human rights and national security considerations, should these arise.

“We hope the Panel will reconsider and provide the Home Office with the report so those checks can begin swiftly and we can publish soon.”