Court of Appeal Judgment in the Daniel Morgan litigation
The Court of Appeal gave judgment today in the case of Rees and others v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis upholding the appeals of Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian and Garry Vian arising out of their prosecution for the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987.
The appellants had brought claims for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office following the collapse of criminal proceedings in March 2011. Relying in part on findings made in those proceedings that the senior investigating officer (SIO) had mishandled a prosecution witness, the appellants alleged that the re-investigation of Daniel Morgan’s murder between 2006 and 2008 and their subsequent prosecution had been conducted in bad faith.
At first instance, Mr Justice Mitting dismissed the claims finding that the police were not the prosecutor; that there was sufficient evidence to provide reasonable and probable cause for prosecuting Mr Rees and the Vian brothers for Daniel Morgan’s murder; and that, in any event, the prosecution was not brought maliciously.
The Court of Appeal overturned the decision of Mitting J finding that the SIO was the prosecutor for the purposes of the tort of malicious prosecution as he had deprived the CPS of its ability to exercise independent judgment by putting before it the evidence of a suborned witness. Although the Court upheld Mitting J’s finding that there was, on an objective analysis of the admissible evidence, reasonable and probable cause to prosecute the appellants, it found that the SIO did not honestly believe that there was a proper case to lay before a court and thus acted maliciously. The Court concluded that the appellants would not have been prosecuted if the CPS had known of the SIO’s misconduct at the time of deciding whether or not to bring charges.