Employees at Scotland Yard ordered to carry out ‘mass shredding’ of Stephen Lawrence evidence, claims damning review of the Met
Two employees at Scotland Yard were ordered to shred a “lorry-load” of police corruption intelligence, according to evidence submitted to a damning review of the Metropolitan Police.
Top-secret material gathered during a four-year investigation, codenamed Operation Othona, was inexplicably destroyed in 2003, according to a report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence commissioned by Home Secretary Theresa May.
The review, conducted by Mark Ellison QC, found evidence that a detective involved in the original murder investigation was corrupt, and that the Met had withheld full details of his criminality from the subsequent judicial inquiry into the notorious case.
In one of his most explosive findings, Mr Ellison said he needed to see the Othona files to properly investigate the Lawrence case, but he could not as there had been a “mass-shredding” of the intelligence in 2003 when Lord Stevens was Commissioner.
Tonight, it emerged that the Met is conducting a “scoping exercise” into the claims, and have been told by a former employee that “two members of staff were tasked to shred a quantity of documents that related to corruption enquiries”.
The material - which dates from around the time Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death by a racist gang - is said to include a “lorry load” of documents, photographs, videos, surveillance logs, listening device records and informant contact sheets.
When Ellison's team told Roy Clark, the head of anti-corruption at the time of Operation Othona, his work had been shredded, he was stunned. “I'd be shocked if it doesn't exist,” the report quotes him as saying. “It was gold-dust stuff... How can you go to those lengths and spend all that money and it is not there? I am just amazed.”
Critics say another secret 1994 Met briefing paper, entitled “Dark Side of the Moon” and quoted by Ellison may provide an answer. “Paranoia about what might be revealed if corruption was investigated with vigour... [is] running high in some very powerful and influential circles,” it stated.
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