Exclusive: Head of black police group criticises IPCC over 'smear' of campaigners

Watchdog attacked for not investigating claims Manchester Police spied on activists

The head of the National Black Police Association has criticised a watchdog for failing to order an investigation after his force requested intelligence on people attending the 1998 public inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence.

Charles Crichlow, a police officer in Greater Manchester, said the decision by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was "astonishing". He added that he had not been contacted by investigators even though he first raised the complaint about a memo calling for information.

The Home Secretary Theresa May ordered all forces last month to trawl through their files after a former Scotland Yard undercover officer claimed that he had been asked to find information on people linked to the Lawrence family, and claimed it would have been used to smear them. David Cameron described them as "dreadful allegations" and said that any suggestion that the family were being undermined by police while seeking justice for their son would be horrific.

Several forces including Greater Manchester uncovered material that suggested that people attending the public inquiry into the death of the 18-year-old had been subject to scrutiny when hearings were held around the country.

Greater Manchester sent a memo to senior officers in which the force's Special Branch requested information on "groups or individuals" likely to attend the inquiry. At the subsequent hearing in Manchester, the then Chief Constable David Wilmot accepted that his force, the country's second biggest, was infected by institutional racism.

Mr Crichlow did not attend the hearings himself for fear of becoming the subject of a Special Branch file.

When a serving constable with the force, he first complained to his supervisor when he saw the email in 1998. A senior officer then warned officers "during these sensitive times" to ensure that we "take care to ensure our messages about race are appropriate, clear and unambigious."

The IPCC said Mr Crichlow's concerns appeared to have been taken seriously and said last week there was no indication of misconduct and declined to conduct a wider inquiry unless further evidence was discovered.

But Mr Crichlow said that the IPCC had reached its decision without speaking to him. He claimed that he had a different view of how the episode unfolded than the one detailed in a submission to the Home Office. The memo later featured in an employment tribunal case that Mr Crichlow took against the force.

"The IPCC never spoke to me," he told The Independent. "They didn't rely on what I said but on a chief superintendent of a discredited force where the Chief Constable declared the GMP to be institutionally racist. I can't tell you how incredible that decision is by the IPCC.

"I can't believe they made this decision. They haven't got the facts because they haven't spoken to me."

The IPCC last week ordered an investigation into the former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Sir Norman Bettison, over claims that he ordered his officers to compile a detailed report on an anti-racism campaigner before he testified to the Macpherson Inquiry. It said there was no "legitimate justification" for gathering the evidence against the campaigner.

However the IPCC said it would not investigate the claims made by the former undercover officer Peter Francis because he has declined to speak to a police inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing by covert police, and there was no evidence to back his claims. The watchdog also said there would be no immediate inquiry into claims of alleged intelligence-gathering in Manchester and South Yorkshire.

The IPCC said last night that the investigation by Greater Manchester Police was continuing and any evidence of misconduct should be passed to the watchdog. It said that its decision was based upon the papers received from the force.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower