Stephen Lawrence: Greater Manchester Police 'must get to bottom' of smear claims

Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has urged the force to get to the bottom of claims of a Stephen Lawrence smear campaign.

It has been alleged some officers were asked to gather information on people attending a local public hearing of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry in 1998.

The force said it is making efforts to find the alleged memo.

Mr Lloyd said the force owed it to Greater Manchester residents and the Lawrence family to find the truth.

Earlier this week former undercover Metropolitan Police officer Peter Francis said he was asked to find "dirt" on the family after 18-year-old Stephen was stabbed to death in a racist attack at a bus stop in London in April 1993.

The force has begun an inquiry into the claims.

'Emotive subject'

The 1998 inquiry led the Metropolitan Police to be accused of institutional racism and found failings in how the force had investigated the crime.

Hearings were held around the country, including one in Manchester, where local race relations organisations, victim support groups, probation services and police gave evidence on problems with race crime and how they were tackled.

Mr Lloyd said: "It's important for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to establish exactly what happened.

"Policing in this country has thankfully moved on since Stephen's death and the high standards we expect from police officers today make it all the more important for us to learn from the past and not to repeat its mistakes."

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: "Concerns have been raised regarding a memo that was issued which is believed to have requested GMP officers to gather information on groups or individuals who were attending these hearings.

"Due to the length of time that has elapsed since then, efforts to locate this memo and any other related material remain ongoing.

"GMP recognises the need to fully explore the legitimacy of the use of any such tactics.

"We understand that this is a very sensitive and emotive subject for all concerned and that a full investigation of the issues is necessary."

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

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