Police tell Stephen Lawrence's parents: murder team is still on trail of suspects

Officers investigating 1993 killing are following up two dozen leads resulting from murder trial

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The Independent Online

The Stephen Lawrence inquiry team will remain at full strength while officers follow up telephone calls made by the public in response to the jailing of two men for the 1993 murder.

Stephen's parents were told yesterday that there were no plans to run down the team during their first meeting with prosecutors and police since Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed last month. The meeting came at the end of a week when the Metropolitan Police was under pressure to look at new claims of corruption involving a key member of the team which bungled the initial murder investigation.

Police said yesterday that they were continuing to follow up 28 telephone calls made in the aftermath of the court case. Plans to speak to Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, in prison have been put on hold after they said they would appeal against the verdicts.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, was at yesterday's meeting at the headquarters of the Crown Prosecution Service. Alison Saunders, the chief prosecutor for London, said: "A number of issues were discussed and we treat meetings with the families of victims as confidential."

The Independent this week revealed previously unpublished police intelligence reports giving the fullest account yet of alleged corruption by a detective on the inquiry team.

Kit Malthouse, London's Deputy Mayor for Policing, has asked the Met for a report into claims that it covered up the evidence about the conduct of its inquiry. Scotland Yard said that its initial assessment was that it did not include anything not known to the force and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which dismissed previous allegations of corruption aired a Panorama programme in 2006.

However, representatives for the Lawrence family said they were unaware of the scale of claims made by senior anti-corruption officers against Sgt Davidson from 1998. The Lawrence family has long suspected that corruption played a part in the force's failure to arrest Dobson, Norris and three other members of a white gang, despite dozens of people coming forward to name them within days of the 1993 fatal stabbing in Eltham, south-east London.

The Macpherson inquiry in 1999 reported that incompetence rather than corruption was to blame for the failure to catch the killers. The files suggested that Detective Sergeant John Davidson, a lead investigator, was a major player in a ring of bent detectives "operating as a professional organised crime syndicate".

The files also suggested that he had corrupt relations with informants, dealt in Class A drugs and "would deal in all aspects of criminality when the opportunities presented themselves", according to the files written by senior anti-corruption officers.

Mr Davidson never faced criminal charges and retired on ill health grounds to run a bar on the Spanish island of Menorca after prosecutors decided there was a lack of corroborating evidence. The Scottish-born detective denies being corrupt,and has previously described the allegations against him as "devastating and false".