The police watchdog has been asked to rule on whether the Macpherson public inquiry was kept in the dark about corruption allegations involving members of the original police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, it emerged last night.
The Metropolitan Police interviewed key members of the murder investigation team from 1993 and those looking into subsequent allegations of police corruption during their review. Earlier this year, The Independent revealed previously unseen intelligence reports that suggested that Detective Sergeant John Davidson, who interviewed key Lawrence suspects and witnesses within days of the stabbing, was a "major player" in a ring of bent detectives.
Scotland Yard declined to say who was interviewed as part of the review, which included a trawl of documents dating back to the 1980s. Former detectives were brought in to try to help find files that had gone missing.
In a statement last night, the Met said: "We have retrieved a number of key documents, which greatly assist in understanding what material was available to the Macpherson inquiry."
It said it was passing the findings to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) so "that they can review it in the light of their previous involvement in the case". The IPCC said last night that it had not been passed the findings and was not able to comment in detail on the Met's report.
The Lawrence family has long suspected that corruption played a part in the Met's failure to arrest the two men finally convicted in January, Gary Dobson and David Norris, and three other members of a white gang, despite dozens of people coming forward to name them within days of the stabbing in south-east London. The first arrests followed a two-week delay and a bungled surveillance operation when suspects were able to dispose of black plastic sacks apparently containing clothing.
There have been numerous Met internal inquiries, and one by the police watchdog, which said there was no evidence of corruption playing a part in the investigation. The Macpherson inquiry found that Scotland Yard was "institutionally racist" but said that there was no evidence of corruption.
However, The Guardian reported that documents said to focus on the conduct and integrity of former Metropolitan Police commander Ray Adams, who was involved in the probe into the murder, were not passed to the inquiry. No criminal or misconduct charges were brought as a result of the internal investigation into Mr Adams.