National Crime Agency probe ‘another blow to the Met’s tattered reputation’
THE Metropolitan Police is under investigation over claims that at least one officer was bribed to protect the identities of the racists who murdered Stephen Lawrence.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) was appointed in March to lead the investigation after Met received claims backed by “reasonable grounds.”
Mr Lawrence’s family have called on witnesses to come forward and campaigners said that this was yet another “full-body blow” to the Met’s reputation.
The black teenager was stabbed by a gang of white men while waiting for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks in Eltham, south-east London, on April 22 1993.
Five men were acquitted of Mr Lawrence’s murder after a 1996 trial on grounds of insufficient evidence.
But it is now claimed that the names of the murderers were known by residents in the area but that police officers did not act due to bribery by one of the defendants’ fathers.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of the murder in 2012.
Mr Lawrence’s parents have always claimed that corrupt officers conspired to derail the search for the killers, which the Met denies.
Home Secretary Theresa May announced in July that a criminal investigation was “ongoing” into disputed allegations that former detective sergeant John Davidson was paid off by gangster Clifford Norris.
Mark Ellison QC, who was appointed by Ms May to lead that probe, said that there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that Mr Davidson had acted corruptly.
The NCA is also examining the claims.
NCA deputy director for specialist investigations Roy McComb will head the investigation for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The senior investigating officer has already spoken with Mr Lawrence’s family, his friend Mr Brooks, who had been a Lib Dem councillor for Lewisham, and their lawyers.
Mr Lawrence’s mother Doreen Lawrence, who was made a Labour peer two years ago, said on Friday that her suspicions about corruption had grown over time despite “decades of official denials” from authorities.
She called on former police officers to “examine their conscience” and for those with information to “come forward so justice can be done.”
“Police corruption has denied us, and others, justice. It is a denial of the trust the police and state have placed in them by citizens,” she told the Guardian.
The high-profile case brought to a head serious concerns of institutionalised racism within the police and spurred the partial repeal of the double jeopardy law, under which a suspect could not be tried for the same crime twice.
Race and human rights activist Lee Jasper, who was a witness during an inquiry that concluded institutional police racism was rife, said that suspicions of corruption were entirely evident.
“All officers connected with the wilful withholding of information should face immediate court action,” he told the Star.