Two reviews to investigate Lawrence smear claims


Home Secretary Theresa May: "The Lawrence family experienced an unspeakable tragedy"

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Claims that police tried to smear murder victim Stephen Lawrence's family will be investigated by two existing inquiries, Theresa May has said.

The home secretary also told MPs there should be a "ruthless" purging of corruption from police ranks.

It comes after undercover officer Peter Francis said he was instructed in 1993 to find information that could discredit the Lawrence family.

Stephen's father, Neville, said "only a judge-led public inquiry will suffice".

Scotland Yard has refused to confirm or deny the claims made in the Guardian newspaper by Mr Francis.

'Unspeakable tragedy'

Black teenager Stephen, 18, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waited at a bus stop in south-east London in April 1993.

A number of suspects were identified soon after the attack but it took more than 18 years to bring his killers to justice. An inquiry accused the police of institutional racism and found failings in how they had investigated the murder.

Former undercover officer Mr Francis told the Guardian and Channel 4's Dispatches programme that after Mr Lawrence's killing he posed as an anti-racism campaigner in a hunt for "disinformation" to use against those criticising the police.

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The allegation on the Guardian's website that officers at the Metropolitan Police wanted to smear Doreen and Neville Lawrence raises fresh questions about the appallingly botched original investigation.”

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Working as part of the Met's now-disbanded Special Demonstration Squad, which specialised in gathering intelligence on political activists, he said he had come under pressure to find "any intelligence that could have smeared the campaign" - including whether any of the family were political activists, involved in demonstrations or drug dealers.

Mr Francis, who used the name Peter Black while under cover, said the aim of his operation had been to ensure that the public "did not have as much sympathy for the Stephen Lawrence campaign" and to persuade "the media to start maybe tarring the campaign".

Mrs May said the Lawrence family had "experienced an unspeakable tragedy".

She continued: "Their pain was compounded by the many years in which justice was not done, and these allegations still coming 20 years after Stephen's murder only add to their suffering."

Any investigations should be "ruthless in purging" corruption and wrongdoing from police ranks, she said.

Barrister Mark Ellison QC - who successfully prosecuted Gary Dobson and David Norris for Stephen's murder in 2012 - is already examining police corruption during the original investigation into the killing.

Mrs May told the Commons that he would look at the latest allegations as well.

Neville Lawrence: "We need public inquiry led by a judge"

And they would also be looked at as part of Operation Herne, which is an investigation into undercover policing at the Metropolitan Police, being led by the chief constable of Derbyshire police, Mick Creedon.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is supervising some strands of Operation Herne.

Mrs May said: "Where the Creedon investigation finds evidence of criminal behaviour or misconduct by police officers, the IPCC will investigate and the officers will be brought to justice".

Neville Lawrence said the latest news had taken away the faith he had started to build in the police.

"It is unthinkable that in the extremely dark days and months after my son's murder that my family were subject to such scrutiny," he said in a statement.

"I understand that the home secretary has announced that she will extend the inquiries of Mark Ellison QC and Operation Herne, I would like to make it clear that I find this completely unsatisfactory.

"I have no confidence that the measures announced today will get to the bottom of this matter."

Stephen Lawrence murder

Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London in April 1993.

A number of suspects were identified soon after the attack but it took more than eighteen years to bring his killers to justice.

Several attempts to prosecute the suspects, including a private prosecution by the family, failed due to unreliable or insufficient evidence.

In 1997, then Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered a public inquiry into the killing and its aftermath after concerns about the way the police had handled the case.

Sir William Macpherson, a retired High Court judge, led the inquiry. He accused the police of institutional racism and found a number of failings in how they had investigated the murder.

In January 2012, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of Stephen's murder by an Old Bailey jury after a review of the forensic evidence.

Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier he wanted to "get the full truth out" about the latest "horrific" allegations.

The IPCC said it was expecting to receive information from the Met in connection with the allegations "which may raise potential conduct matters" about officers from the Special Demonstration Squad.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "If these allegations are true, it's a disgrace, and the Metropolitan Police Service will apologise."

He added: "Smearing the family of a murder victim would never be acceptable to me or my officers".

'Really angry'

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "At some point it will fall upon this generation of police leaders to account for the activities of our predecessors, but for the moment we must focus on getting to the truth."

The man who was in charge of the Met between 1993 and 2000, former commissioner Lord Condon, said he had had no knowledge of any campaign to smear the Lawrence family.

David Cameron: "Potentially the police that were meant to be helping them were actually undermining them"

"I can say categorically that at no time during my time as commissioner did I authorise or condone or was aware of the sort of smear operation that's been described in the Guardian," he said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, whose responsibilities include oversight of the Met, said he had already spoken to current commissioner Sir Bernard about the claims and pledged to "leave absolutely no stone unturned".

Mr Lawrence's mother, Doreen Lawrence, said earlier that she was shocked and angry at Mr Francis's disclosure.

"Out of all the things I've found out over the years, this certainly has topped it," she said.

"It just makes me really, really angry that all of this has been going on and all the time trying to undermine us as a family."

Dispatches is broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday 24 June at 20:00 BST.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 748.

    743.koolkarmauk The same organisations that are asking why the MET do not properly investigate 44% of reported crime?
    More conspiracy theories. These allegations are about as laughable as the UFO stories that were being run the other day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 747.

    I am surprised that people are surprised.After Hillsborough nothing the police do surprises me anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    727. Murder I think someone has alluded to in a prior post. There was also the case of Rhea Page, who was badly beaten for clear racial motives. Her aggressors were let go because they weren't used to alcohol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    Just wondering...

    Are Chinkinthearmour, TerryTuppence & Shaunie Babes really at work?
    Considering the number of times they have been responding in a tit for tat manner? if they are their respective employers need to keep a keen eye on them!

    Everytime I check this site, they have written another HYS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    @716.william mohan

    well bully for you mate, explains your unremitting defence of your beloved police institution, & entirely instep with police psychology & attitude condemned in the 60s, 70s, Scarman report etc.

    By your testimony all previous public records about police scandals in West Midlands, special branch etc. must be all false.

    My colleagues & I must have been in a parallel dimension.

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.


    "I think this is also a conspiracy theory against the Met by some nasty organisations."

    The same organisations that are asking why the MET do not properly investigate 44% of reported crime?

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    CHINKINTHEARMOUR, @732 So lets get this straight, you are only interested in racism here in the UK and not in places like China and Russia, where it is right in your face, naked and open racism. Surely racism is to be fought wherever it may be. Anyway any comeback on your critique of my lack of service for Queen and Country and understanding of Police issues, thought not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    Smearing your opponent is a standard police and government tactic - see Julian Assange's rape allegations, this latest scandal re the Lawrences, Jean Charles de Menezes endured rape hints after he was shot for "looking a bit terroristy". At least now we can simply assume it's all made up next time the police use the media to smear someone they want to destroy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    I'm bored of hearing about steven lawrence in the news every couple of months

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    "If you are a white, Anglo Saxon, straight male then you are the most discriminated against person on the Earth."

    Tell that to Aborigines, American Indians and anyone else who lost their homeland to white Europeans and post your response here, I'd love to hear the debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    So if information is secretly gathered about the contacts of one family (in order to potentially smear them) that (rightly) requires a top level enquiry, but if information is secretly gathered about everyone in the country then that's OK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    I’m surprised TM didn’t just use WH stock answer that its all fanciful and that any anything else is a matter of national security. All of these cases demonstrate a complete lack of public oversight they put to much trust into individuals who inevitably at some point try to bend or break the rules. You can bet your aunt nelly this has gone on since in other forces & institutions like GCHQ.

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    When will people understand that the Police is a corrupt organization? The IPCC is not an independent body, despite its name. Indeed, it would be more honest if it hung a blue lamp outside its offices. Surely by now the link between those responsible for the Stephen Lawrence murder and the Police is obvious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    The Lawrence family have done there son extremely proud by keeping there son murder in the limelight, they have got the politicians running scared, it is just a pity that the numerous white people who have been murdered at the hands of blacks have been long forgotten, Yet again the liberals have won.,

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.


    I love the clumsy overcompensation, how earnestly indignant the BBC are when reporting 'cover ups'!



  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    This country is absolutely ROTTON TO THE CORE!

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.


    hypocrisy & presumption are two barely adequate descriptions for your comments. You vindicated those words by your natural vocabulary segregating other Brits, & by treating any logical challenge as racism against non-coloured Brits.


    I have no interest on racism in China, or indeed Russia, Japan or UAE. Its irrelevant to widen the scope internationally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    Enough, can we have an end to this going on & on & on & on , for heavens sake move on

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.


    "Post facts rather than made-up stories".

    What kind of idiot needs "facts" showing that groups formed by a sense of racial victimhood are likely to adopt an ethnically-aggressive stance??

    & why don't you post some interesting facts yourself since your so keen to demand the same of others? Prove that what I've just said isn't true. Go on, start posting some facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    "Peter Francis was instructed in 1993 to find information to discredit the Lawrence family"


    But how will the 2 reviews now commissioned change the culture that has developed over the intervening 20 years?

    The job promotion /recruitment criteria that favours those minded to make such an instruction has been in place for 20 years, in all aspects of life. Do something about that Theresa


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