The Daniel Morgan murder case is "as grave a case for the Metropolitan Police as was the murder of Stephen Lawrence", the former lead detective in recent investigations tells Channel 4 News.

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As the government announced a judge-led independent panel to examine police failings over the 1987 murder of private detective Morgan, Dave Cook, the former lead detective involved in the most recent investigations, made his first ever public comment on the case to Channel 4 News.

Morgan, 37, was found slumped by his BMW in a pub car park in Sydenham, south London, on 10 March 1987. The father of two and partner in a London private investigations firm, Southern Investigations, had been struck in the head several times with an axe which was found embedded in his skull.

This is a case of such magnitude that it deserves the scrutiny it will soon have. Dave Cook

In the intervening years there have been five police investigations into the murder, at a reported cost of £30m, but no one has ever been convicted. Morgan's business partner at Southern Investigations, Jonathan Rees, along with three others, was charged with the murder in April 2008.

The case, however, collapsed after witnesses had to be withdrawn, with the police accused of withholding evidence.

'Deplorable'

The role which police corruption has played in this case has been acknowledged at the highest levels within the Metropolitan Police. Former assistant commissioner John Yates once described this as "one of the most deplorable episodes in the entire history of the MPS".

In 2011 the then acting commissioner Timothy Godwin spoke of the "repeated failure of the MPS... to confront the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder".

The government has now asked a judge, Sir Stanley Burnton, to lead an independent panel to examine the circumstances surrounding Daniel Morgan's murder. The handling of the case throughout the whole period since 1987 will also be examined.

This review must do the equivalent of the Hillsborough Review in establishing the truth not just for the sake of the family but also for the public having confidence in the police and judicial process. Dave Cook

The terms of reference will involve the panel seeking to address questions which relate to "police involvement in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder from being brought to justice and the failure to confront that corruption; and the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the News of the World and other parts of the media and corruption involved in the linkages between them".

'Bullied, degraded and let down'

Daniel Morgan's brother Alastair welcomed the news, saying: "Through almost three decades of public protests, meetings with police officers at the highest ranks, lobbying of politicians and pleas to the media, we have found ourselves lied to, fobbed off, bullied, degraded and let down time and time again. What we have been required to endure has been nothing less than mental torture.

"... we trust and hope that the panel, through its examination and publication of all relevant material and information, will assist the authorities to confront and acknowledge this failure for once and for all, so that we may at last be able to get on with our lives."

The Metropolitan Police detective who supervised investigations into the murder from 2002 to 2011, Dave Cook, has spoken publicly for the first time on Friday about the case.

In 2011 Channel 4 News first broadcast claims by Mr Cook and his then wife Jacqui Hames, a former Crimewatch presenter, that the News of the World had placed them under surveillance in an alleged attempt to subvert the police inquiry into Daniel Morgan's murder.

'Corruption'

This morning the former detective chief superintendent (who was arrested last January over allegations of unauthorised leaks to a journalist - he is on bail awaiting a decision by the IPCC on whether charges will be brought) gave a statement to Channel 4 News:

"I consider the Daniel Morgan murder as grave a case for the Metropolitan Police as was the murder of Stephen Lawrence, but instead of race being the issue, this time it is about corruption.

"This is a case of such magnitude that it deserves the scrutiny it will soon have. This review must do the equivalent of the Hillsborough Review in establishing the truth not just for the sake of the family but also for the public having confidence in the police and judicial process.

"If it does, it will be a tremendous achievement for the Morgan family who have fought tirelessly not just for justice for Daniel but also for the truth as to what has happened over the last 26 years".

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