Police Inquiry: MP may reveal file on race killing

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The Independent Online
A LABOUR MP is threatening to use parliamentary privilege to release a secret police report on a controversial investigation into the death of an Asian student.

John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, accused the Metropolitan Police yesterday of ignoring one of Sir William Macpherson of Cluny's recommendations from the Lawrence inquiry by withholding a report on the death of Lakhvinder "Ricky" Reel.

Mr Reel, 20, was found drowned in the Thames some time after he and his friends had been racially attacked in Kingston, south-west London, two years ago.

At a meeting at New Scotland Yard last month three civilians on an advisory panel, which is working alongside the investigation into Mr Reel's death, were allowed to see extracts of a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) report into the original police investigation. The police have refused to allow Mr Reel's parents even to show the document to their children and friends.

His mother, Sukhdev Reel, called for the advisory panel to be scrapped. She said yesterday: "I feel angry that my own family can't see the report yet other people who work with the police can."

In a letter to Louise Christian, the Reel family's solicitor, Assistant Commissioner Denis O'Connor said panel members had been shown parts of the report "on a read-only basis and on terms of strict confidentiality". He wrote: "All copies of the report used at the meet- ing were collected at the conclusion."

But Ms Christian referred to the minutes of the meeting, which made no reference to confidentiality. They stated: "The group then considered the contents of the PCA report and made comment about a number of issues that required clarification."

The Met has always claimed that the document is subject to Public Interest Immunity and has forbidden Mr Reel's parents from discussing its contents with anyone except the solicitor and barrister representing the family at the inquest later this year. The family believes the Met is stifling debate over what happened to their son and reducing the chances of further witnesses coming forward.

Mr McDonnell, the family's constituency MP, said that unless Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, agreed to publish the PCA report, which is based on an inquiry conducted by Surrey Police, he will use parliamentary privilege to make it public. "I don't know what else we can do apart from use the Commons chamber," he said.

The Macpherson report recommended that police should not withhold reports resulting from public complaints unless such an action would cause "substantial harm".