Former officer claims police hoped to ‘smear’ family of Stephen Lawrence


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The Independent Online

Video credit: Channel 4 Dispatches/Guardian

A former undercover police officer has alleged that he was instructed to spy on and “smear” the family of Stephen Lawrence in the aftermath of the black teenager’s murder in south-east London.

Peter Francis says he was requested by his bosses to find “dirt” that could be used against members of the Lawrence family in the early aftermath of his racist murder in April 1993.  He alleges that senior officers deliberately withheld his covert involvement from Sir William Macpherson, who headed the public inquiry into the role of police investigations.

The claim, one of a catalogue of new allegations, has reignited the controversy over covert policing and calls into account the findings of the 1999 Macpherson report which concluded “institutional racism” inside the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Francis said he posed as an anti-racist activist in the mid-1990s in his search for intelligence.

“I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign,” he told The Guardian. “Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns.”

His account, to be detailed in a new book published this week, also alleges an unsuccessful effort to discredit Duwayne Brooks, a friend who was with Mr Lawrence on the night he was killed and the main witness to his murder.

Mr Francis says he obtained evidence that led to Mr Brooks being arrested and charged in October 1993, before the case was thrown out by a judge.