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IPCC to investigate Stephen Lawrence officers

MURDERED: Stephen Lawrence

THE POLICE watchdog will investigate claims of "discreditable conduct" by Metropolitan Police officers in relation to the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The Independence Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) opened the investigation into the conduct of one serving and two former Met officers following the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, led by Mark Ellison QC.

His findings were published in March this year.

It was alleged that during the Macpherson Inquiry in 1998, the acting detective inspector, Commander Richard Walton, met with an undercover officer and obtained information pertaining to the Lawrence family and their supporters, potentially undermining the inquiry and public confidence.

It also accused Commander Walton of providing inconsistent accounts to Ellison's review team regarding his actions.

Stephen was murdered by a white gang in a racist attack in 1993. Two men have been jailed for his murder, but there were five youths present when the 18-year-old was stabbed to death.

Though the Macpherson inquiry found evidence that the Met was "institutionally racist" in the way it handled his murder investigation, it concluded there had been no police corruption involved.

But the Home Office launched the review into the initial investigations following calls from the murdered sixth-former’s parents, Neville Lawrence OBE and Baroness Doreen Lawrence, to investigate the role of police in allowing their son’s killers to evade justice for nearly 20 years.

Speaking from his home in Jamaica, Neville Lawrence said: “It’s a welcome step and I hope the investigation is thorough and gets to the truth. But this relates to one small part of the Ellison report. I remain concerned that the Metropolitan Police did not fully cooperate with the Macpherson inquiry and I do not want this issue to be swept under the carpet. I will be making a complaint to the IPCC about this.

"My family and I have to go through another public inquiry and I want to do everything I can to make sure that the police know that they have to be
open and transparent during that inquiry.”

Ellison's review also looked into media revelations that officers were ordered to spy on the Lawrence family after the murder in order to help smear them publicly.

IPCC deputy chair, Sarah Green, said: "Mark Ellison's review highlighted a number of extremely serious matters which strike at the heart of public confidence in the police.

“Following the review, I asked the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) to consider whether the conduct of any officers or former officers should be recorded and referred to the IPCC."

Green added: “Having now received referrals in relation to all three of the above officers, and in view of the seriousness of the matter and the significant public interest, I have determined the IPCC should conduct an independent investigation. I have notified Mr Lawrence and Baroness Lawrence of this decision."

An MPS spokesperson said: “Following the publication of the Ellison Report on March 7, the MPS moved Commander Richard Walton temporarily from his post as Head of the Counter Terrorism Command to a non-operational role. This matter was then voluntarily referred to the IPCC.

“In relation to the same matter in May the MPS referred two retired officers, then a Detective Inspector and a Commander, to the IPCC. As this is an independent investigation it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."

Jocelyn Cockburn, the leading civil liberties solicitor who represents Neville Lawrence, said: “Whilst it is good that the IPCC will independently investigate these officers, there remains significant uncertainty about how, or even, whether other failings will be investigated. It is disappointing that some three months after the release of Mark Ellison’s report that there is still no clear plan to investigate whether the Metropolitan Police withheld material from Macpherson and gave misleading information to the inquiry regarding police corruption.

"If Ellison is correct this could involve misconduct by Metropolitan Police officers at the highest level."

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