Donald Macintyre's Sketch: The most shocking revelation yet in the Stephen Lawrence saga. Until the next one

 

Perhaps the aptest – and the most chilling – five words uttered by Theresa May in the Commons came towards the end of her statement when she was saying how “deplorable” it was that Stephen Lawrence’s family had to wait 21 years for the truth to emerge about the wilfully botched police investigation into his death.

"Indeed," she added, "it is still emerging."

Her choice of tense was judicious. Incredibly, thanks to a prolonged Metropolitan Police campaign of cover-up, lies and what Jack Straw called "venality, probably in the upper reaches" of the force, we still don't yet know the full story of how its officers obstructed justice. Or if other cases could yet be unravelled following the malpractices laid bare. 

As often on Thursdays, the Commons back benches were a just a quarter full to hear what Straw called "one of the most shocking and serious statements I have heard by any minister from any party over the whole of the 35 years I have been in this House".

But that didn't prevent a mild frisson in the chamber when Ms May announced, with just a touch of theatre, a public inquiry into the working of the secretive and now disbanded Special Demonstration Squad.

It was the Squad which had furnished, in Mark Ellison's lawyerly prose, "a [Met] spy in the Lawrence family camp during the course of judicial proceedings in which the family was the primary party in opposition to the [Met]".

Complimented by the usually spikily partisan Labour MP Heidi Alexander not only on the content but her "tone", the Home Secretary did well, sombrely reflecting what she herself called the report's "profoundly shocking" findings.

To Ms Alexander's interesting question about whether any of the officers who knew about the allegations of corruption during the initial murder investigation - scandalously withheld from Macpherson - were still employed by the Met, she was wisely cautious, promising to write to the MP when she was "absolutely certain of the facts".

But there was nothing cautious about her emphasis on the need for a "change of culture" in the police, or of her dismay at the impact on the Met's own corruption investigations of the "mass shredding" of "key evidence" in 2003.

Like her opposite number Yvette Cooper, she was careful to pay ritual tribute to the "majority" of officers "who conduct themselves honestly and with integrity". But she did not mince her words in wondering what "the thinking was of somebody who thought it was right not to refer" the corruption allegation against Detective Sergeant John Davidson to Macpherson, adding: "I find it absolutely incredible that further reference did not take place."

Ms May was also forthright in telling MPs "that in policing, as in other areas, the problems of the past have a danger of infecting the present and can lay traps for the future. Policing stands damaged today." And the story isn't over yet.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment