In Brief

'I was told to dig dirt on Stephen Lawrence,' says undercover cop

Officer says he was under 'constant pressure' to get evidence discrediting murdered youth and his friend

DAVID CAMERON has called for an immediate investigation into claims by a former undercover police officer that he spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence in the aftermath of the black teenager's murder in south-east London in 1993.

In a book to be published this week, Peter Francis details how he spent four years infiltrating protest groups in the 1990s, and how he was told to "hunt for disinformation" on the Lawrence family and the friend who witnessed the murder of Stephen at the hands of a white gang.

"I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign," Francis told The Guardian. "Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns."

A No. 10 spokesman said: "The prime minister is deeply concerned by reports that the police wanted to smear Stephen Lawrence's family and would like the Metropolitan Police to investigate immediately." Labour has also called for an investigation.

Francis reveals how on one occasion he was involved in a plot to frame Duwayne Brooks, Stephen's friend who was with him on the night he was attacked. According to The Guardian, Francis was part of a police operation to show Brooks was involved in violent disorder.

"He and another undercover police officer trawled through hours of footage from a May 1993 demonstration, searching for evidence that would incriminate Brooks," alleges the paper.

Though Brooks was arrested and charged with criminal damage, the case was thrown out by the judge when it came to court. Francis says that the arrest of Brooks and the surveillance of the Lawrence family were a reaction by the police to the growing calls for an inquiry into Stephen's death and the subsequent police investigation. "We were trying to stop the campaign in its tracks," claims Francis.

A public inquiry headed by Sir William Macpherson was subsequently launched into how the police had responded to the murder, the outcome of which was the 1999 Macpherson report which concluded that the Metropolitan Police was bedevilled with "institutional racism".

Francis's disclosures, which will be included in a Dispatches programme to be broadcast tonight on Channel 4, have shocked the mother of the murdered teenager.

"Out of all the things I've found out over the years, this certainly has topped it," said Doreen Lawrence. "Nothing can justify the whole thing about trying to discredit the family and people around us."

The Metropolitan Police issued a statement saying it recognised the allegations would "bring particular upset" to the Lawrence family and added: "We share their concerns."

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