Ian Blair says it is 'just not true' Met is institutionally corrupt

Ex-commissioner Lord Ian Blair says it is ‘just not true’ that Met police is institutionally corrupt and backs current boss Cressida Dick as ‘finest officer of her generation’ despite Daniel Morgan report

  • Lord Blair spoke to defend current Scotland Yard boss after the critical report 
  • Panel found Met put protecting its reputation above finding Mr Morgan’s killer
  • But Lord Blair said there was ‘no evidence of systemic corruption’ in the force 

Lord Blair defended current Scotland Yard boss Dame Cressida Dick as ‘the finest officer of her generation’ and refused to accept there is systemic corruption in the force’

Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Ian Blair today hit out at accusations that the force is institutionally corrupt as ‘just not true’.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he defended current Scotland Yard boss Dame Cressida Dick as ‘the finest officer of her generation’ and refused to accept there is systemic corruption in the force.

Dame Cressida is facing calls to resign after the publication of a damning report on the unsolved 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.

An independent panel led by Baroness Nuala O’Loan found that the Met had put protecting its own reputation above finding Mr Morgan’s killer.

The panel’s report said: ‘Concealing or denying failings, for the sake of the organisation’s public image, is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.’

But Lord Blair told Today: ‘The allegation that the Met is institutionally corrupt is just not true. There is no evidence of systemic corruption in the Metropolitan Police.

‘If you then use that to describe a reluctance to come forward, you then have to compare the BBC marking its own homework over Martin Bashir.

‘Institutions do have a protective process and I’m sorry about that but I just don’t believe the words institutionally corrupt in any way reflect what the public understanding of what that would mean.’

Dame Cressida is fighting for her survival following a bombshell report branded her force ‘institutionally corrupt’

The Met admitted in 2011 that the grossly inadequate first investigation into Mr Morgan’s murder – which saw the murder scene left unsearched and unguarded – had been hampered by corruption.

But the panel found that corruption had gone on after the initial inquiry, and questioned why no action had been taken to bring those who sabotaged the first investigation to justice.

A string of police investigations and an inquest have failed to convict anyone of the killing or any associated corruption in protecting those responsible.

The numerous inquiries into the case have largely been due to the campaigning efforts of Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair, who has fought for justice for more than 30 years.

Yesterday in the wake of the publication of the report, Dame Cressida did not appear in person to answer journalists’ questions, but instead issued a written statement in which she apologised again to Mr Morgan’s family.  

Britain’s most senior police officer faced calls for her head after the report concluded she personally placed ‘hurdles’ in the way of the search for the truth about Mr Morgan’s death. 

Daniel Morgan was investigating claims of corruption within the Metropolitan Police when he was murdered in 1987

The independent panel found Scotland Yard had been more interested in protecting its reputation than in cracking what has been dubbed the ‘most investigated unsolved murder in the history of the Metropolitan Police’.

Baroness O’Loan, who led the inquiry, described the institutional corruption finding as equivalent to the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which concluded the force was ‘institutionally racist’. 

No one has been brought to justice for the brutal killing of Mr Morgan in a south London pub car park in 1987. The 37-year-old was found with an axe lodged in his skull and £1,000 in banknotes in a pocket.

After five separate criminal inquiries and an inquest, at an estimated cost of £30million, it was hoped that the eight-year public inquiry would finally uncover the truth. 

Instead, it became clear yesterday that the stench of ‘institutional corruption’ pervading the Met means the family of Mr Morgan are unlikely ever to get justice.

Baroness O’Loan said the failings of the original shambolic murder investigation had been compounded over the past three decades by the shameful attempts to hide the extent of the rot at the heart of the force.

She said Scotland Yard owed Mr Morgan’s family an apology for not confronting its systemic failings and those of individual officers, including Dame Cressida.

The baroness accused the commissioner of ‘obfuscation’ – thwarting attempts to access sensitive documents and police computers, leading to costly delays in the inquiry.

‘The family of Daniel Morgan has suffered grievously as a consequence of the failure to bring his murderer or murderers to justice, the unwarranted assurances which they were given, the misinformation which was put into the public domain, and the denial of the failings in investigation, including failing to acknowledge professional incompetence, individuals’ venal behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures,’ she added. 

Mr Morgan was killed with an axe outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London

Alastair Morgan (right), the brother of murdered private investigator Daniel Morgan, with his family solicitor Raju Bhatt (centre) speaking to the media following the publication of the report

‘Concealing or denying failings for the sake of an organisation’s public image is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit, and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.’

Concerns about vetting police officers persist to the present day, said Baroness O’Loan, adding that there were no adequate safeguards to ensure that officers were not engaging in criminality.

Professor Rodney Morgan, a panel member, said: ‘The term ‘institutional corruption’ is not used in a historic sense, it’s used in the present tense.’ Yesterday Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair said the family would consider suing the force for putting them ‘through hell’.

Asked whether Dame Cressida should resign, he said: ‘Yes, absolutely I think she should consider her position.’

In a statement, the Morgan family said: ‘At almost every step, we found ourselves lied to, fobbed off, bullied, degraded and let down time and time again. What we were required to endure was nothing less than torture.’

Singling out Dame Cressida for blame, the report said she had not given a ‘reasonable explanation’ for blocking access to computer data and delaying the release of files, the last of which were provided only in March.

The investigation into Mr Morgan’s murder was described as ‘shockingly incompetent’, with officers failing to search the scene, which was left unguarded, ‘pathetic’ forensic work and no alibis sought for suspects.

A Home Office source said there were ‘serious concerns with the Met’s leadership and how it responded to failings’ – although Home Secretary Priti Patel and Boris Johnson later expressed confidence in Dame Cressida. 

The commissioner apologised for past mistakes yesterday, saying: ‘It is a matter of great regret that no one has been brought to justice and that our mistakes have compounded the pain suffered by Daniel’s family. For that I apologise again now.

‘I have been personally determined that the Met provided the panel with the fullest level of co-operation in an open and transparent manner, with complete integrity at all times.’

Scotland Yard rejected the report’s finding of institutional corruption, with assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave saying: ‘It doesn’t reflect what I see every day.’

He insisted the panel had been given ‘unparalleled access’ including to the police Holmes database, adding: ‘The commissioner has no need to consider her position. She has overseen disclosure to an extent never seen before.’

The force is conducting a review of the case and has repeated appeals for anyone with information to come forward. It has offered a £50,000 reward.

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