Three men win malicious prosecution claim against police over Daniel Morgan murder

Three men who were charged with the murder of a private investigator have won their malicious prosecution claim against the Metropolitan Police.

Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian and Garry Vian had appealed against the dismissal of their case by a High Court judge, Mr Justice Mitting, in February 2017.

They were prosecuted after Daniel Morgan was found murdered in a car park at the The Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south east London, in March 1987.

Mr Morgan was struck four or five blows to the head with an axe, which was left embedded in his face.

The men were arrested and charged in April 2008 but, in March 2011, proceedings were discontinued and not guilty verdicts entered.

The evidence of a man called Gary Eaton, which was a major plank of the Crown case, had been excluded from the prospective trial because the senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, was found to have compromised Mr Eaton's 2006 de-briefing.

In the course of the process, Mr Eaton, who had a criminal past and a personality disorder, moved from being unwilling to name directly any of the participants in the murder to naming Mr Rees and the Vian brothers.

Mr Justice Mitting said that Mr Cook had done an act "which tended to pervert the course of justice" but his motive was to bring those he believed to be complicit in the murder to justice.

Allowing the appeal in relation to malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office, Lord Justice McCombe, sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Coulson, said that Mr Cook, for whom the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (MPC) accepted vicarious responsibility, was undoubtedly a "prosecutor" who acted maliciously.

"He knowingly put before the decision-maker a case which he knew was significantly tainted by his own wrongdoing and which he knew could not be properly presented in that form to a court."

Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian and Garry Vian. Credit: PA

Lady Justice King added: "This is a case where no one has been tried or convicted of a particularly brutal murder.

"It is of importance that where serious and damaging findings of malicious prosecution and of misfeasance in public office are sought against the MPC in such a case, that the public can understand and appreciate the logic of the outcome.

"With respect to this very experienced judge, the outcome which he reached namely, that although acting corruptly DCS Cook was not also acting maliciously, may well appear to be counterintuitive to any ordinary member of the public.

"To say that DCS Cook, a prosecutor guilty of perverting the course of justice by creating false evidence against the appellants was, on account of his belief in their guilt, not acting maliciously, is rather like saying that Robin Hood was not guilty of theft.

"One understands the motivation in each case, but any seeming endorsement of such dishonest behaviour, particularly within the police force, leads, as Lord Justice McCombe puts it, to a - serious and unacceptable 'negation of the rule of law'."