Lawrence lawyer's apology to `Good Samaritan' officer

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The Independent Online
THE SOLICITOR for the parents of Stephen Lawrence has offered to apologise to an off-duty policeman wrongly included in a list of officers being sued by the family. Retired PC James Geddis was called a "Good Samaritan" in the Lawrence inquiry report after stopping his car and covering the 18-year-old with a blanket at the murder scene in Eltham, south east London, in 1993. His failure to give Stephen first aid was blamed on a lack of training rather than a lack of will to help, the report concluded.

But Mr Geddis was said to be devastated when legal papers were passed to him last week - along with 41 other officers, including the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Condon - informing them they were being sued under Section 20 of the Race Relations Act, which refers to discrimination on grounds of race.

The individual claims against officers from constable to superintendent are part of the wider claim against the force, accusing them of a failure to investigate properly, said solicitor Imran Khan. Mr Khan said yesterday that he was prepared to apologise to Mr Geddis. But he also demanded an apology from the Metropolitan Police federation for its claim that the Lawrence family were pursuing a vendetta against individual officers. "We're seeking an apology in the same way that I am prepared to apologise for the error," he said.

The chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, Peter Herbert, also criticised the federation's comments. "Such language is best reserved for the perpetrators of racism, not the victims," he said.

Glen Smyth, the chairman of the federation which represents rank-and- file officers, said he stood by his comments.