‘I can remember laughing at him, and telling him he looked like Toad of Toad hall,’ says Alastair Morgan, recounting a treasured memory of his younger brother Daniel.
Now in his seventies, Alastair can still remember how they had been driving around in a much-loved Austin Healey that Daniel, who worked as a private investigator, was restoring for his daughter at the time.
‘He was clowning around, complete with a moustache and driving goggles,’ adds Alastair with a smile, as he speaks exclusively to Metro.co.uk.
However, memories are all that the 72-year-old has of his brother, as the father-of-two was horrifically axed to death in 1987 in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in south London.
It’s been alleged that Daniel, 37, had been investigating drug-related police corruption in south London before his death.
Within weeks, six men were arrested on suspicion of his murder – including Daniel’s business partner, a police officer who would later take up the position Daniel had held at the private investigations company, and two other Met officers – but all were released.
To date there has been five investigations and an inquest across almost three and a half decades, but no one has ever been prosecuted.
With theories of whistleblowing behind the killing, allegations of police corruption have dogged the case, which has cost nearly £50,000,000, and is said to be the most investigated unsolved murder in the history of the Metropolitan Police.
Alastair has spent decades campaigning to find out the truth behind his brother’s murder and why no one has ever been charged.
‘It’s been terrible,’ says Alastair. ‘Our mother died just over two and a half years ago never knowing what happened. It’s almost as if the process is like another form of punishment, because it just takes so long.
‘As they say, justice delayed is justice denied.’
It took 26 years for a report into the failings of the case to be ordered – by Theresa May, then Home Secretary in 2013 – after lobbying from the family for a judicial review.
Called The Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, it has been reviewing police handling of the failed investigations and allegations of media collusion for the past eight years.
The panel had been due to report their findings, which are expected to contain a ‘sizeable chapter’ on police corruption, earlier this month. However in a last minute u-turn, following Home Secretary Priti Patel’s request to review and redact parts of the report on national security grounds, they have so far refused to hand it over.
The decision has left the family once again in limbo, with them describing it as a ‘kick in the teeth’.
Expressing his scepticism over the contents of the report, Alastair believes that although it will be authoritative in terms of analysing what happened, as well as making recommendations, actions speak louder than words.
‘The police are a very, very conservative organisation, and they talk the talk very well, but they don’t walk the walk very well,’ he suggests, sadly.
Journalist Peter Jukes has been following the Morgan family campaign for justice for nearly a decade and in 2016 he launched and co-hosted the true crime podcast, Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder.
‘My hope for the rest of the family is that they get further vindication,’ Peter says of the report. ‘They spent an extraordinary amount of time, effort and emotion to get the authorities to pay attention — a lifetime really — in exposing police and media corruption.’
After the podcast first aired in 2016, it became a viral hit almost overnight. when it was mentioned on the recent sixth series of Line Of Duty, the podcast saw a 150% increase of downloads.
It also meant that thanks to the public’s unwavering desire for true crime stories, Daniel’s unsolved murder continues to be catapulted back into the spotlight.
Soon after Peter’s podcast aired, a book, Who Killed Daniel Morgan?, followed. Then in July last year, Channel 4 aired a three part documentary series called Murder In The Car Park.
Talking about the programme, Alastair says, ‘It certainly raised awareness of the case widely. Generally, people were pretty shocked by it, I think.’
Recalling the days after the murder, Alastair describes how he, his sister Jane, and their mother Isobel spoke endlessly about how the case needed to be taken more seriously.
‘I slept very little for days and days afterwards, my mind was on kind of a hyper alert,’ he says. ‘I think it heightens your senses in some ways, when something really, really terrible happens, because it’s a kind of a threat. When a close relative is brutally murdered, it feels like a threat to your own survival.’
But while some might have assumed having a personal tragedy in the spotlight for so long – especially as it became endless fodder for true crime fanatics – would take its toll on the family.
Alastair disagrees, saying that it has actually made him ‘feel like a public servant’, with a moral obligation to campaign against police corruption.
‘Dealing with it is a very isolating experience though,’ he admits.
Kirsteen Knight is a BBC journalist; she has been Alastair’s partner for almost three decades.
Reflecting on the potential impact of the panel’s report when it does finally come out, she describes it as having an element of ‘unrealness’.
‘We hope there’s some change but we doubt there will be. There’s a lot of mysteries this report could answer,’ she says.
Most importantly, adds Kirsteen, ‘It will become true – and that’s the biggest thing I think we will get from this.’
Meanwhile, Peter Jukes says that when the findings are released, they will be covered in further podcast updates.
‘I don’t think this [the panel] will be the end of the story though, or that this will be the final explanation,’ he says. ‘But it will be a significant chapter.’
Peter is also co-writing a twelve part drama about the crime with novelist Jake Arnott, while a US based company is collaborating on a new six part documentary about the case.
Talking about why the family are still waiting for answers from the police, Alastair describes himself as having ‘solid views’ as to who is responsible for the 34 year wait.
He also criticises the conduct of the Metropolitan Police, especially Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, for the forces’ response to the panel’s inquiry, suggesting that it had been obstructed – a claim that has been alleged in reports just this week which suggest that the panel is also likely to accuse Dick of delaying over the control of disclosed sensitive policing documents.
With an ear for voices and languages, as well as a talent for modernistic painting, there’s no doubt Alastair has given up so much in his fight for justice over the years.
Never given a true chance to pursue his own ambitions, such as exploring if he could have been an actor, some days he looks back and wonders. ‘what could I have been?’
When Alastair speaks, you can hear an almost tangible catch in his voice.
If you ask him today about the impact of the case on his life, he politely laughs before asking ‘How long have you got?’
The continuing campaign for justice is akin to ‘low level torture’, Alastair then explains.
‘Time is going on, and I am getting older. I’m reaching a point where I’d like to be free of this,’ he says, referring to the decades spent demanding accountability for his brother’s murder.
You can hear a sad smile in his voice as he adds, ‘I’d just like a little bit of space to think about something else.’
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