A Manchester University lecturer who successfully challenged police corruption in the past has been included in a independent panel which has been set up by the Home Secretary Theresa May to investigate one of the UK’s most notorious unsolved murder cases.
Private investigator Daniel Morgan was found with an axe embedded in his head in a south east London car park on 10 March 1987. Although never completely substantiated it is believed Morgan was about to expose serious corruption and drug-dealing between police and private investigators.
Following numerous separate murder investigations that lasted up until 2002, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) abandoned the final attempted prosecution against five suspects two years ago.
With no likelihood of any successful prosecutions the Metropolitan Police admitted police corruption was a “debilitating factor” in the original investigation. Aware something was very wrong the Morgan family had long campaigned for a public review of his case. In May, Theresa May announced she was creating the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel headed by Sir Stanley Burnton, a retired Lord Justice.
May has now announced that criminologist Dr Silvia Casale, Michael Kellett and Graham Smith will join the panel. Their remit includes the role played
by police corruption in protecting those responsible for Morgan’s murder as well as the link between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World.
Kellett was for 30 years a Lancashire police officer who now works as a freelance consultant for a number of international organisations that include the Council for Europe.
Smith is a senior lecturer in regulation at the University of Manchester. He is consultant to the European Commissioner for Human Rights on police complaints and is a UN recognised expert on police accountability.
Smith was assaulted thirty years ago by Manchester police officers. He did not make a complaint or speak to a solicitor and pleaded guilty to a charge of drunk and disorderly before quitting his job and moving to London.
He began investigating police corruption in the Metropolitan Police when in 1987 he joined the Trevor Monerville Campaign in Hackney. This was an east London borough with a record of police brutality that included the deaths in custody of Colin Roach and Tunay Hassan.
In January 1988 the first ‘We Remember’ commemoration was held for those who had suffered and died at the hands of local police. Six months later, Smith helped establish Hackney Community Defence Association (HCDA) and he was its key figure until 1995 when he left to pursue an academic career.
HCDA was launched because single-issue campaigns no longer offered adequate resistance to the local police’s rampage. It was a self-help group that - without ever seeking state funding for fear of compromising its independence - developed a highly successful strategy in combating police repression.
It investigated community allegations of wrongful arrest and brutality against the police, provided mutual support for victims and campaigned against police injustice.
Rather than being advised to make formal complaints, victims of police crime were directed to use the civil courts. Victims thus avoided having anything to do with the police during the initial stages of their complaints and this gave them time to recover from the psychological trauma they had suffered. A network of reliable solicitors and barristers helped ensure victims kept control of their cases.
Police prosecution rates in the cases taken up by HCDA collapsed to under a quarter. The CPS abandoned many cases, as the police were no longer seen as reliable witnesses.
Among the allegations that HCDA started investigating were cases involving police organised crime. A picture emerged of drug trafficking, corruption and fitting-up innocent victims. Eight police officers were secretly transferred to other stations. One of them, Sergeant Gerrard Carroll shot himself with a police revolver in Barkingside police station.
Investigatory programmes by Panorama and World-in-Action highlighted HCDA’s evidence that the police were controlling the local crack cocaine trade. Convictions were quashed, with Hugh Prince becoming the thirteenth victim of the local police’s drug squad to have his overturned in December 1994. The Metropolitan Police was subsequently forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.
In 1993, HCDA helped launch the Colin Roach Centre. When this was burgled in 1994 centre members believed that MI5 or Special Branch had undertaken the operation in a desire to get their hands on a new database listing police officers involved in fabricating evidence and criminal activities.
The computer listing this information was located elsewhere and this may account for why, in early 1995, Mark Jenner was sent into the centre as an undercover police officer from the Special Demonstration Squad of the Metropolitan Police.
Celia Stubbs, whose partner Blair Peach was killed by a Metropolitan Police Officer in 1979, was an active HCDA member. She has welcomed the appointment of Smith to the Morgan panel saying; “Graham Smith did a marvellous job in Hackney in exposing and defending the victims of police corruption. I wish him well in this important task.”