In Depth

Stephen Lawrence report: Met chief says force 'devastated'

Home Secretary launches inquiry into undercover policing following 'profoundly shocking' report

SIR Bernard Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police, has said that the force will be devastated by a damning report into undercover operations conducted against the family of Stephen Lawrence.

An independent review found yesterday that police had spied on the family of the teenager, who was murdered more than two decades ago. 

"This was a devastating report for the Metropolitan police and one of the worst days that I have seen as a police officer," Hogan-Howe told the London Evening Standard. "To see Neville and Doreen Lawrence struggling through their tears was awful."

He vowed to address head-on issued raised by yesterday's allegations.

Mark Ellison QC's report found evidence of the mass shredding of documents related to the Lawrence case, and said a hard-drive containing key evidence about the investigation had not been found until 2013.

The Ellison report found "reasonable evidence" of corruption by Det Sgt John Davidson, one of the officers who investigated the murder. However, Ellison added that there was no evidence to suspect the conduct of other officers.

It found that an undercover officer had been planted in the Lawrence "camp", reporting personal information back to Scotland Yard. The spy, whose existence had previously been concealed, and other undercover agents had gathered personal information about the murdered teenager's parents Doreen and Neville Lawrence, The Guardian reports.

In a speech to the House of Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May said this was "completely improper" and also that it was "deplorable" that Stephen Lawrence's family have had to wait so long for the truth to emerge.

She announced a judge-led public inquiry into the conduct of undercover policing.

Like the Home Secretary, I find the conclusions of the Stephen Lawrence review profoundly shocking. It's important we have a full inquiry.

 

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) March 6, 2014

Stephen's father Neville Lawrence expressed scepticism about the scope of the proposed inquiry.

Speaking on BBC Newsnight yesterday, he said he felt "vindicated" to hear May speaking out about the case but he added that "if people had listened to us earlier on maybe things would have been different".

Referring to the 1998 Macpherson Inquiry into the original investigation, which failed to expose the findings unearthed by Ellison, he said: "I'm very, very wary about what's going to happen now."

He added: "It's like the Metropolitan Police seem to be always trying to hide what they are and put a different face out there all the time, and I now feel that I will never be able to trust these people."

Doreen Lawrence, who was made a peer last year, was described as "dignity defined" by the Daily Telegraph, as she yesterday spoke quietly in the House of Lords of her "21 years of struggle" to find out the truth about Scotland Yard's actions after her son's murder.''

"We weren't asking for anything special," she said. "Just what we should have had, like any other citizen of this country."

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a bus stop in south London in 1993 by a group of white youths. Initial attempts to prosecute suspects failed due to insufficient evidence, but in 2012 two of the perpetrators, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were found guilty of the murder after a review of the forensic evidence.

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