Stephen Lawrence review prompts Met shredding ban

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was questioned about the shredding of documents

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The head of the Metropolitan Police has "asked that there is no more shredding" of documents while he deals with claims files on corruption were destroyed.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe appeared before the Home Affairs Committee, which told him it would hold an inquiry into Met "standards, governance and culture".

Destruction of files was raised by the Mark Ellison QC in his review of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.

Sir Bernard told MPs the Met was going through that report in detail.

It found evidence of "mass shredding" of files relating to Operation Othona - a top-secret anti-corruption initiative within the Met.

Stephen Lawrence Mark Ellison's review found officers spied on Stephen Lawrence's family

Mr Ellison also reported that an undercover Met officer had spied on the Lawrence family, and did not rule out that corruption may have compromised the investigation.

'Chaos not malice'

Sir Bernard told MPs he needed to find out whether the shredding was "innocent or malicious", adding: "I just don't know."

He insisted the Met must find out what had happened, saying he needed to know: "What were the documents, what was on them, who asked for them to be shredded and why?"

Sir Bernard was not Met Commissioner at the time of the Stephen Lawrence murder or the alleged shredding of internal documents - which could have happened in 2001 or 2003 - and he said he had no knowledge of the shredding.

He said there were "very legitimate reasons" why documents were destroyed, but added: "I have asked that there is no more shredding until I get to the bottom of this."

He also said he had spoken to Mr Ellison after his review to ask if he felt the Met had been "dishonest, mischievous, malicious" in not providing information - and he said he was told it was "chaos rather than malice".

During the meeting, committee chair Keith Vaz told Sir Bernard: "Normally I find you very reassuring to this committee. I am afraid I don't think we are reassured at the moment."

Asked if there should be an inquiry into "the Met as a whole", Sir Bernard said: "No. There's no need. It's absolute nonsense. We are doing very well."

But Mr Vaz said there would be an inquiry "given all that's happened".

Mr Ellison's report, published earlier this month, prompted Home Secretary Theresa May to announce a separate judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing.

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