Stephen Lawrence smear report lawyers release aims

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

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Lawyers appointed by the Home Office to investigate alleged corruption in the investigation of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence have released their aims.

Mark Ellison QC and Alison Morgan will investigate claims that undercover officers smeared the Lawrence family.

They will indicate whether there should be action such as criminal charges and a public inquiry.

The findings will be submitted to the home secretary by 31 December.

Stephen Lawrence 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.

Two murderers

In 2012 Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of the murder and sentenced to minimum terms of 15 years and two months and 14 years and three months respectively.

Last month Peter Francis, a former undercover officer at Scotland Yard, 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 Mr Lawrence's death.

It subsequently emerged that police had also secretly recorded at least one meeting between Mr Lawrence's friend, Duwayne Brooks, and Mr Brooks's lawyer, Jane Deighton.

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 18 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 the murder by an Old Bailey jury after a review of the forensic evidence.

Mr Francis has not spoken directly to the police about the allegations and says he will only speak if a public inquiry is held.

The Metropolitan Police referred the claims to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The watchdog's deputy chairman, Deborah Glass, said it could not be properly assessed at present due to a lack of evidence and would await the outcome of the report.

The key questions Judge Ellison and Ms Morgan are setting out to answer include:

  • Whether there is evidence of corruption.
  • What the role of undercover policing in the Lawrence case was, who ordered it and why?
  • Was information on the involvement of undercover police withheld from the Macpherson Inquiry, which concluded the Metropolitan Police were institutionally racist.
  • It will also address the extent of intelligence or surveillance activity ordered or carried out by police forces nationally.
  • And the extent, purpose and authorisation for any surveillance of Duwayne Brooks and his solicitor.

The IPCC said it would wait for the outcome of this report and the results of Operation Herne, a review of undercover policing, before any further action was taken.

The IPCC is, however, investigating former West Yorkshire police chief, Sir Norman Bettison, over allegations he tried to undermine a witness who was giving evidence to the Macpherson Inquiry in 1998 which aimed to learn more about policing and racism around the country following Stephen's murder.

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