Fresh investigation into student's death

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SIR PAUL Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, agreed yesterday to launch a new investigation into the controversial death of an Asian student, a year after his body was dragged from the Thames.

Police chiefs admitted mistakes had been uncovered in the original investigation into the death of Ricky Reel, 20, and offered a fresh investigation by the new Racist Crimes Unit, which was set up in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence controversy.

But Mr Reel's family are demanding the disclosure of a report by the independent Police Complaints Authority into the Met's handling of the case.

The offer of a new investigation came after Mr Reel's parents, Sukhdev and Balwant Reel, saw Sir Paul Condon yesterday in a four-minute meeting at New Scotland Yard.

It was held on the anniversary of the discovery of their son's body. Mr Reel died after an evening out with friends in Kingston-upon-Thames. Police concluded he had died accidentally but his family are convinced his death was caused by a racially motivated attack by a gang of white youths.

After the meeting, Sir Paul's deputy, John Stevens, said the force was ready to launch a new investigation to be headed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve, the director of the Racial and Violent Crime Task Force.

He admitted that the PCA investigation into the Met's handling of the case, which has not yet been made public, had criticised "one or two things that could have been done better".

But he said that the report had reached the same conclusion as the original Met investigation, that Mr Reel's death was an accident. The new inquiry would examine any fresh evidence.

Mr and Mrs Reel said they would not be ready to meet Mr Grieve until there was a full disclosure of the PCA report.

The family's solicitor, Louise Christian, said any claims that there were legal obstacles to publishing the document were "a smokescreen". Ms Christian said they were not interested in public relations and added: "We want to know what's in the PCA report. This has been a terrible ordeal for the family."