Former detectives to help find lost Lawrence case files


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The Independent Online

Former detectives are being asked to help find missing documents from the inquiry into alleged corruption in the original Stephen Lawrence case.

The head of Scotland Yard, Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, said a trawl of documents going back 20 years had failed to uncover everything as he prepared to respond to demands from the dead teenager's family for the reopening of inquiries into the initial botched police response to the 1993 racist murder. Earlier this year, The Independent revealed previously secret Scotland Yard files claiming that an investigator on the initial inquiry was corrupt and engaged in extensive criminal activity. The family has maintained that corruption played a part in the initial failed investigation and meant that only two members of the racist gang who stabbed the teenager in Eltham were convicted and not until this year. The Macpherson Inquiry found that incompetence rather than corruption was to blame for the initial failings.

Doreen Lawrence wrote to the Home Secretary Theresa May and Mr Hogan-Howe following the latest revelations and Mr Hogan-Howe told MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday that he acknowledged her concerns. "The first thing we have done is to try to find all the material around the investigations that have previously happened in terms of the Lawrence inquiry about any allegations of corruption in it." He added: "After 20 years... we've not been able to locate all of it."

He said that officers involved in the original anti-corruption probe were to be asked where "some of these documents might be" before a decision is made to open any inquiry.

The hunt for the documents comes while the force faces renewed controversy over racism as it emerged that an officer will be charged with racially abusing a suspect last August. Prosecutors said yesterday there was enough evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction of Pc Alex MacFarlane following a review by the Crown Prosecution Service of footage which appeared to show the officer say to a black man: "The problem with you is you will always be a nigger, yeah?". The decision was an about-turn for the CPS, which had said in January that the officer should not face charges.

The case is one of 11 being investigated by either the Metropolitan Police or the independent watchdog after allegations of racist assaults, bullying and abuse involving some 20 officers and a member of police staff came to light. Mr Hogan-Howe said that he welcomed the review and that it would now be tested in court.

He said that he wanted the six cases being investigated internally by the Metropolitan police to be completed within four weeks. He added that he was personally leading work to improve the culture of the force.