IPCC to investigate Hillsborough police offier Sir Norman Bettison over report on anti-racism campaigner
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said police systems may have been misused
The former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Sir Norman Bettison, is to be investigated over claims he ordered his officers to compile a detailed report on the anti-racism campaigner Mohammed Amran, before he testified to the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of the teenager Stephen Lawrence.
The document – apparently stretching to six pages, covering every available piece of biographical evidence on the Bradford community worker – is at the centre of an inquiry announced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) today.
The body will examine whether Sir Norman was “motivated or influenced by racial discrimination” in seeking information that could have been used to smear Mr Amran.
The IPCC has declared there was no “legitimate justification” for gathering the evidence and that Sir Norman may be guilty of “the misuse of police information systems and unlawful processing of the witness’s (sensitive) personal data.”
Mr Amran has been prevented by West Yorkshire Police from showing the dossier of evidence, which was referred to the IPCC by the West Yorkshire Police Crime and Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, to a third party. The force showed him the document on condition that he signed a confidentiality agreement; the IPCC is not yet ready to share it with him.
The document is understood to include details relating to Mr Amran’s birth in Pakistan, family connections and his influence in Bradford.
It is clear that Sir Norman’s officers concluded that he was influential and a strong communicator, who had become a very high-profile figure. They also concluded that Mr Amran’s family members had influence in Britain and Pakistan.
Sir Norman was delighted with the document and is understood to have signed it when it was despatched to him, indicating what an “excellent piece of work” it was.
Mr Amran had previously been the subject of an even more damning 167-page dossier compiled by the West Yorkshire force in 2001. This document was part of a lobbying campaign to persuade the then head of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), Gurbux Singh, to remove Mr Amran from his post as a CRE commissioner.
Details of the document emerged after the Home Secretary Theresa May ordered police forces around the country to examine their files after a claim by an undercover officer that attempts were made to smear the family of Stephen Lawrence following the murder of the 18-year-old in 1993.
The police watchdog said that it would not investigate because of a lack of evidence to back up the claims of the former undercover officer Peter Francis. He has declined to speak to an inquiry set up to look into the allegations of wrongdoing by covert police. He has said that he would give evidence only at a public inquiry.
Deborah Glass, the deputy chairwoman of the IPCC, said: “While the allegations are serious, and indicate potential grave misconduct, there is as yet no information or evidence to support them and the fact that the maker of the allegations is unwilling to talk to anyone in a position to investigate them means their credibility cannot properly be assessed at this stage.”
Indications that further intelligence work was being carried out by officers in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire would also not be investigated by the watchdog, it said yesterday.
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