Police forces to examine Macpherson Inquiry records

Stephen Lawrence
Image caption The Macpherson Inquiry reviewed the Metropolitan Police investigation into Stephen's killing

The Home Office has asked more police forces to check records to see if they bugged anti-racism campaigners involved in the public inquiry set up after the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.

West Midlands and Avon and Somerset forces will review records from the time of the 1998 Macpherson Inquiry.

The inquiry examined police failings in the original murder investigation.

It comes after an ex-officer said he authorised secret taping of a meeting with Stephen's friend, Duwayne Brooks.

Former Met deputy assistant commissioner John Grieve said he had given permission for one meeting in May 2000 - between Mr Brooks, his lawyers and detectives - to be recorded.

Mr Brooks's lawyer, Jane Deighton, who was at the meeting, said in a statement: "Duwayne Brooks is going to take some time to absorb the enormity of the admission that former DAC Grieve deliberately deceived him in the guise of providing him with victim support."

The Home Office order and details of the secret recording follow claims by former undercover officer Peter Francis that he was asked to find "dirt" on the Lawrence family in the years following the 1993 murder of 18-year-old Stephen in Eltham, south London.

The home secretary has ordered two existing inquiries to look at the allegations and the Lawrence family has demanded a public inquiry.

'Institutionally racist'

The Macpherson Inquiry uncovered failings in the investigation of the crime and its 100,000 page report concluded the force was "institutionally racist".

At hearings across the country, local race relations organisations, victim support groups, probation services and police gave evidence on problems with race crime and how they were tackled.

On Wednesday, it was revealed the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had been asked to investigate concerns that Sir Norman Bettison tried to influence the way a key witness gave evidence to the Macpherson Inquiry, in Bradford, when he was assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police.

Greater Manchester Police has also referred itself to the IPCC after it was alleged its Special Branch sent a memo to officers asking for information on "groups or individuals" due to attend the inquiry in Manchester.

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: "Following recent events across the country and subsequent correspondence from the Home Office, West Midlands Police are undertaking checks to see whether there is any material held that suggests intelligence or surveillance activity was ordered or carried out in respect of the Macpherson Inquiry or those connected to the inquiry."

Image caption Mr Grieve said he wanted an "unassailable record" of the discussions

The force would report back to the Home Office by 10 July, he added.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said the force had already "looked into any implications from the Stephen Lawrence case a couple of weeks ago but didn't find anything".

"However, in light of a letter from the home secretary we are now carrying out a separate review to make sure we didn't miss anything."

Meanwhile, Mr Grieve has said he authorised a secret recording of Duwayne Brooks because he wanted to keep an "unassailable record" of police discussions with him.

Mr Grieve said he feared that if he had asked the other participants for approval to tape the meeting overtly it would not have been given.

He said he deeply regretted "any distress, dismay or alarm that my decisions may have caused".

'Within frameworks'

Image caption Mr Brooks and his lawyer, Jane Deighton, held talks with the deputy prime minister on Friday

Mr Grieve said: "Every decision made was based on the information available at the time and conducted within ethical, legal, necessary and proportionate frameworks."

Mr Brooks's lawyer, Jane Deighton, has said she believed taping had taken place on more than one occasion.

Scotland Yard is investigating claims police briefings attended by Mr Brooks had been secretly recorded at the offices of Deighton Guedalla, in Islington, north London, in 1999 or 2000.

In a statement, the Met said its Directorate of Professional Standards investigators had found documentation authorising the recording of one meeting in May 2000.

It said Mr Grieve authorised the recording and at this stage it believed the "relevant policy" had been followed.

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