Stephen Lawrence police's 'sickening betrayal', Max Clifford trial and Crufts

  • 7 March 2014
Stephen Lawrence

Newspapers react to the report into police handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry.

The Daily Telegraph describes the victim's mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, responding in the House of Lords to confirmation the Metropolitan Police had planted a spy in her family's "camp" to "smear" them.

"She was dignity defined as she held her tears in check and spoke quietly of '21 years of struggle' to get to the truth about Scotland Yard's shameful behaviour over her son Stephen's murder," the paper says.

The Daily Mail says the report exposed "two decades of shameful police lies" about the case, pointing out that corruption claims against one investigating officer were never brought to light at the time of the last public inquiry.

Noting that Home Secretary Theresa May said the truth was "still emerging", Donald MacIntyre writes in the Independent: "Her choice of tense was judicious. Incredibly, thanks to a prolonged Metropolitan Police campaign of cover-up, lies and what [former Home Secretary] Jack Straw called 'venality, probably in the upper reaches' of the force, we still don't yet know the full story of how its officers obstructed justice."

The Times profiles the Special Demonstration Squad that was used to target the Lawrence family, describing it as a "secretive outfit" whose members "operated in the shadows for 40 years" and embedded themselves with extremist groups. The paper says hundreds of political activists could have their convictions quashed amid concerns they are unsafe, with a review examining whether SDS officers gave false evidence to courts in the belief they were exempt from the usual rules of evidence disclosure.

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Questions remain

The Mail - which takes readers through its 17-year campaign for justice for the Lawrence family - prints a set of questions it says police chiefs must answer in light of the review's evidence.

One, to former Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens, reads: "What did you know about the decision to pulp key documents on corruption relating to the Lawrence case?"

In its editorial column, the Times says: "The slow drip of revelations, even now, suggests a Met which has been far more concerned with appearing to reform than with actually doing so."

Paul Lewis, in the Guardian, says the Met "obfuscated and blocked at every turn" during the paper's three-year investigation into claims by one former SDS officer who spoke about its activities.

Looking ahead to a new independent inquiry, he says: "This time, perhaps, the truth will come out."

The Independent says: "At the end of this next chapter we should move closer to justice, and to determining what went wrong with so many of the previous inquiries that were supposed to set matters straight.

"The Lawrences are to go through the mill once again."

The Telegraph argues: "While an inquiry may add to our store of knowledge it will do little to bring the transgressors to book.

"We risk spending millions of pounds on legal fees, simply to wait years to learn what we already knew - or to be told of personal and institutional failings that have long since been remedied or become irrelevant."

But the Mail disagrees, saying: "While this expensive inquiry could take years to complete, the Lawrence family deserve nothing less.

"The truth must be unearthed and the guilty punished."

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Prince Harry playing volleyball
"Volley good show by Harry," is how the Daily Express describes the prince's Invictus Games project for injured former servicemen, which will take place in September in east London's Olympic Park.
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Immigration 'own goal'

As the debate over immigration rumbles on, the Financial Times views the new minister in charge of the issue as having scored an "own goal" in his first speech.

After James Brokenshire criticised a "wealthy metropolitan elite" for using cheap overseas labour, it emerged that David Cameron had hired two nannies from outside the EU.

The PM was accused of double standards, says the Times, which reports a No 10 spokesman as saying: "We are not against people who want to come here, work hard and get on. The prime minister would include his nanny as someone who wants to work hard and get on."

His Lib Dem deputy was also dragged into the row, notes the Mail. Nick Clegg initially told his weekly radio phone-in that he wasn't going to "get into" details of his home life but later told listeners he had a "lady who has a Belgian passport" to help out, the paper says.

Telegraph cartoonist Matt sums up the situation by sketching an au pair feeding the children of a couple, who are leaving the house, with the MP father telling her: "Tsvetelina, after that, I want you to write a speech for me on immigration control."

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Catwalk dogs

Composite image of dogs in onesies and coats at Crufts

Judges at Crufts may be used to judging the quality of a dog's coat but probably not its "onesie".

However, that's exactly what reporters saw on show as it got under way in Birmingham. "Entries for the first day of the annual event came dressed from muzzle to paw in pet-chic style," says Tom Morgan, in the Daily Express, describing waterproof coats and booties.

The Mail's David Wilkes says: "With early morning drizzle falling, owners took great pains to avoid those well-groomed coats getting splashed and mucky in the puddles. Many dogs turned up in colourful 'onesies', turning the entrance of the event at the NEC in Birmingham into something of a four-legged fashion show."

The Guardian dispatched Steven Morris to report from the show, which he described as "an extraordinary assault on the senses, not all of them pleasant".

"This is not the place to be if you don't like the sounds of barking, yapping or growling," he writes, adding that slobber towels are available - priced £3.50 - for anyone drooled on by a newfoundland.

The Daily Mirror finds space for the subject in its editorial column, but doesn't reckon the pets are too keen on their attire, writing: "Looking at the hangdog expressions of the entrants yesterday, the nation's mongrels may well think: 'I'm glad I'm not pedigree, chum.'"

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