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National Crime Agency head: ‘Our crime fighters are always at risk of corruption’


The head of the country’s national crime-fighting agency said yesterday that his organisation was likely to be under constant attack from organised criminals attempting to corrupt officers and disrupt its operations.

Keith Bristow, of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said he accepted that at some point officers or systems would “let us down”, but it had not yet happened during its first six months of operation. “It’s important to identify that quickly and deal with it robustly. We will not tolerate corruption,” he said.

A small team of detectives at the NCA is examining potential lines of inquiry around alleged corruption linked to the first bungled Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry. The review was ordered by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, in March to consider “quickly how best an investigation can be taken forward” into potential corruption.

It followed an inquiry by barrister Mark Ellison QC which found there were “reasonable grounds” for suspecting former detective John Davidson acted corruptly during the initial Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.

Mr Davidson, a key police investigator, was identified as corrupt by police supergrass Neil Putnam five years after the teenager’s murder. Putnam described how a cabal of corrupt officers had disposed of stolen watches and taken cocaine from a drug dealer.

He later claimed that Davidson had told him in the summer of 1994 that he had had a corrupt connection with Clifford Norris, a notorious south London gangster and the father of David Norris, who was convicted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 2012.

There have been at least three police inquiries into Mr Davidson, the last in 2006. The retired officer has denied any wrong-doing.

Details of the NCA review will be passed to the Home Secretary to decide the next step forward.