The Metropolitan Police has been accused of "a form of institutional corruption" for concealing or denying failings over the unsolved murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.
A report by an independent panel said the force’s first objective was to "protect itself" for failing to acknowledge its many failings since Mr Morgan’s murder, the panel’s chairman Baroness Nuala O’Loan said.
Mr Morgan was killed with an axe in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south-east London, on March 10 1987.
Despite five police inquiries and an inquest, no-one has been brought to justice over the father-of-two’s death, with the Metropolitan Police admitting corruption had hampered the original murder investigation.
The Met owes Mr Morgan’s family, and the public, an apology for not confronting its systemic failings and those of individual officers, the report said.
In a statement through their lawyer, the family of Mr Morgan said: "We welcome the recognition that we – and the public at large – have been failed over the decades by a culture of corruption and cover up in the Metropolitan Police, an institutionalised corruption that has permeated successive regimes in the Metropolitan Police and beyond to this day."
His brother, Alastair Morgan, had hoped the long-awaited report into his death would find institutionalised corruption within the police. He has said he expects the report to contain "a sizeable chapter on corruption".
In 2013, then-home secretary Theresa May announced that an independent panel was being set up to examine the case.
The publication follows a furious row between the Home Office, Independent Panel and Mr Morgan’s family over its release, which was originally due to take place in May.
After eight years in the making, the Home Office said that it may need to redact parts of the document on national security or human rights grounds.
But the panel said it had already worked with lawyers and security experts from the Metropolitan Police, calling the last-minute intervention "unnecessary" and "not consistent with the panel’s independence".
Alistair Morgan, brother of Daniel Morgan, hopes a long-awaited report into his death will find institutionalised corruption within the police.
Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire
Mr Morgan’s family said the move was a "kick in the teeth", and called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to consider the distress the delay caused them.
An agreement was eventually reached that a small Home Office team could read the report in advance, and last week it was confirmed that the full, unredacted report would be published.
The panel’s remit was to address questions relating to the murder including police handling of the case, the role corruption played in protecting Mr Morgan’s killer, and the links between private investigators, police and journalists connected to the case.
Speaking in May, Alastair Morgan said: "I’m hoping to see a conclusion of institutionalised corruption.
"There’s been some very bad policing going on there. And not just at the beginning – it went on and on and on in one way or another.
"In the current situation I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that anyone will ever be convicted of the murder because of the mess that has been made en route.
"Nor do I believe that any of the police officers who were involved in discreditable activity or activity that is criticised by the panel will face any disciplinary or criminal action.
"But I just hope that this situation, this kind of injustice, will be highlighted by the panel."