Stephen Lawrence: Ex-undercover officer 'to be witness'

Stephen Lawrence Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993 in south-east London

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A former undercover police officer has been denied immunity from prosecution but will be treated as a witness by an inquiry into an undercover police unit, it has been reported.

Peter Francis had asked for immunity in return for speaking to the police.

Mr Francis had previously alleged officers were told to smear the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

On Wednesday he told Channel 4 News he would only be willing to give evidence to MPs or a public inquiry.

In July, Mr Francis told the Guardian and Channel 4's Dispatches programme that he was told to pose as an anti-racism campaigner in a hunt for "disinformation" to damage the Lawrence family following Stephen's death.

Stephen, 18, was murdered in 1993 in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths while he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.

'Police not master'

There is currently a police inquiry led by Chief Constable Mick Creedon looking at the activities of Scotland Yard's Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) that Mr Francis was part of in the 1980s and 1990s.

On Wednesday, Channel 4 News reported that a senior police officer had written to Mr Francis to say: "Neither the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) or myself can provide immunity from prosecution for breaches of the Official Secrets Act or any other matter."

He added: "I have made the decision at this time to treat you as a witness... and hope that you are prepared to assist the inquiry."

Mr Francis had initially said he would only give evidence at a public inquiry.

On Wednesday he said: "I'm also prepared to appear before the House of Commons Select Committee. I've already volunteered to do that."

He added: "My master now is no longer the police, it's the public, so I will give them all the truth on the issues."

Mr Creedon had previously said: "Without speaking to Peter Francis it is not possible to fully investigate the allegations he has made.

"Operation Herne is very willing to engage with him and any legal representatives he might have prior to carrying out any witness interview."

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