UK & World News

  • 7 March 2014, 5:30

Stephen Lawrence Report Sparks Public Inquiry

Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a public inquiry into undercover policing following a "profoundly shocking" report on alleged corruption in the Stephen Lawrence murder case.

The teenager's father Neville said the findings of the review by barrister Mark Ellison were "21 years overdue".

Mrs May told the House of Commons a judge-led inquiry would now examine the work of undercover officers and Scotland Yard's Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS).

Mr Ellison, who successfully prosecuted two men over Mr Lawrence's 1993 murder, found that an unnamed SDS "spy" was working in the Lawrence "family camp" during an earlier judicial inquiry into the 18-year-old's death.

The SDS, which ran for 40 years to 2008, was set up to infiltrate campaign groups with the potential for public disorder, and it has been at the heart of a wide range of allegations about its activities.

Former SDS officer Peter Francis last June claimed he had been deployed undercover from September 1993 in connection with Mr Lawrence's murder and told to find ways to "smear" the would-be architect's family.

Mr Ellison uncovered nothing "definitive" on the officer's claims, but he said a public inquiry might be able to.

The report also found there was evidence to suspect former Detective Sergeant John Davidson, who worked on the murder investigation, of acting corruptly.

It also suggested there were still lines of inquiry which might show evidence of corruption among other police officers, although the evidence did not currently exist.

Neville Lawrence, who now lives in Jamaica where his son is buried, said: "Mark Ellison's report has simply corroborated what I have known for the past 21 years and our long fight for truth and justice continues.

"I sat through the last inquiry but I have yet to decide whether I can go through another inquiry."

Mr Lawrence is expected to meet with Theresa May.

Stephen Lawrence's mother, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, described the latest revelations as the "final nail in the coffin", and said those involved should resign for their "disgraceful" actions.

She said: "You can't trust them. Still to this day. Trust and confidence in the Met is going to go right down.

"People look at the Met Police as a good example of what everyone else should be doing across the world. Once this goes out now... they can't be trusted."

The report also raised wider concerns about how SDS activities could have led to miscarriages of justice, and Mrs May has commissioned a further review into cases affected by the squad.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty in 2012 of murdering Mr Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in an unprovoked racist attack by up to six white youths as he waited with a friend at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London.

Following Mrs May's announcement Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Like the Home Secretary, I find the conclusions of the Stephen Lawrence review profoundly shocking.

"It's important we have a full inquiry."

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