The Metropolitan Police have maintained their bullish stance against accusations of institutional corruption with another senior officer rejecting the claim.
A major report on the unsolved 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan, published last week, found that the force had concealed or denied failings in the case to protect its reputation.
It said this was “dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constitutes a form of institutional corruption”.
In the wake of the report both Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave rejected the stinging accusation.
They were joined on Wednesday by Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House, who told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee: “The National Police Chiefs’ Council defines corruption as the improper exercise of power or privilege for the purpose of achieving a personal benefit or a benefit or detriment for another person.
“The Metropolitan Police Service does not accept that we are institutionally corrupt in this way.
“We don’t accept that we don’t have the necessary framework to identify and bring to book those who abuse the privilege of wearing a police uniform.
“And we don’t accept that corruption followed this case throughout the decades that we’ve been trying to find the offenders.”
However, he admitted that “occasionally we may be overly defensive” and said the force could do more to explain what it does and why.
Father-of-two Mr Morgan was murdered with an axe in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, on March 10 1987.
Despite a string of police investigations and an inquest no-one has been brought to justice for his murder or for alleged corruption.
The report criticised the initial woefully inadequate inquiry, which saw the murder scene unsearched and left unguarded, and said that corruption had continued beyond the first investigation.
Sir Stephen said: “We accept and we deeply regret that corruption played a major part in the failure of the first investigation into Daniel Morgan’s murder.
“It’s quite clear that the acts of individual police officers undermined the investigation. As a senior police officer of 37 years’ service I deeply, deeply regret that.
“It’s a source of anger and sadness for all right-thinking police officers.”
Mr Morgan’s brother, Alastair, who has campaigned for justice for his brother for decades, said on Tuesday that he has still not received a written apology from Dame Cressida.
Sir Stephen told the committee: “It’s quite clear that our failings compounded the pain suffered by Daniel Morgan’s family. For this we profoundly apologise.
“As the Commissioner has said, we recognised that the family has shown incredible grit, determination and courage over the years since the terrible murder.
“I hope the report provides the family with some of the answers to questions that have arisen over the past 34 years.
“I know from speaking to her yesterday that the Commissioner will shortly be writing directly to the Morgan family to set out the next steps that we as an organisation will be taking.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Barbara Grey has been appointed to lead the Met’s response to the report.
The force is carrying out a forensic review of the case and Sir Stephen insisted that there may be a chance “however remote” of solving the killing.
The report recommended that the Met ask a handwriting expert to examine a diary found in Mr Morgan’s desk to ensure that written entries were made by him.
It also said that the force should take DNA from relatives of a late police officer identified only as Z31, to compare with samples found on the handle of the axe used to murder Mr Morgan.
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