Macpherson says his report hurt police morale

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The Independent Online

The former judge who headed the inquiry into the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence yesterday admitted its report had "cast a shadow" over the Metropolitan Police.

The former judge who headed the inquiry into the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence yesterday admitted its report had "cast a shadow" over the Metropolitan Police.

Sir William Macpherson of Cluny said it was inevitable that the report - which condemned the Metropolitan Police for "institutional racism" as well as serious failings in the murder inquiry - would have a serious impact on the London force. His comments came as the incoming Metropolitan Police Commissioner, John Stevens, warned that morale in the force was at a very low ebb.

Mr Stevens, who is to succeed Sir Paul Condon, said that a major police corruption probe and problems of low pay, as well as the Lawrence inquiry report, had served to dent police confidence in the capital.

He warned in a magazine interview that the force was struggling to attract new recruits, and admitted that a recent recruitment drive had not been a success.

Sir William told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the problems outlined by Mr Stevens were "very sad".

"I accept that the waters are still troubled. The Lawrence report as such must have cast its shadow over the Metropolitan Police but, surely, that was to be expected," he said.

"It was a hard-hitting report dealing with serious failures of leadership and professional errors which took place in 1993."

But Sir William expressed confidence that the problem of "institutional racism" was now being properly addressed by the Metand other police forces.

"I believe that the challenge has been taken up by the Metropolitan Police and by institutions all over the country. I don't believe that people are ducking the issue," he said.

"I have hope and optimism in this field as well as the more direct field of policing activity which we have criticised firmly and roundly in the report."