Police watchdog will never weed out corruption, says Doreen Lawrence

Mrs Lawrence had called for a public inquiry into whether corrupt officers shielded her son's killers

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The Independent Online

Doreen Lawrence said yesterday she had no confidence in the police watchdog to uncover cases of corruption because the organisation depended on retired officers to investigate former colleagues.

Mrs Lawrence, whose son Stephen was killed by a gang of white racists in 1993, told MPs the current setup at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) gave a sense that officers are "still protecting each other", and demanded a change in the way that it operates.

"Until they change the culture of who is investigating, then I don't think things will be any different," she said. Mrs Lawrence called for a public inquiry earlier this year into suggestions that her son's killers were shielded by corrupt officers involved in the original bungled murder inquiry, telling Home Secretary Theresa May she had no confidence in the IPCC to do the job.

Mrs May subsequently ordered a review led by barrister Mark Ellison QC – the man who headed the prosecution of Gary Dobson and David Norris, the only two men convicted in January this year of Stephen's murder.

Mrs Lawrence, told the Home Affairs Select Committee that Mr Ellison had promised her he would leave "no stone unturned" in his review of the case that was due to start this month. "He feels the powers he has will allow him to do that," she said. However, she said that the review did not answer her full demands. "I am optimistic if anything comes out of this review there will be a public inquiry," she told the Home Affairs Select Committee. "It needs to delve a little bit deeper than what the review is going to give us."

Her demand for a public inquiry followed a report in The Independent which detailed previously unseen police reports describing the extent of alleged corruption against a sergeant involved in the original investigation.

A further report in The Guardian prompted Scotland Yard to carry out an inquiry that included a trawl of historic documents related to the case.

The Metropolitan Police and the IPCC both concluded that there was no further evidence to suggest corruption, but the following day Mrs May ordered the review. It will assess whether there is any evidence that any officer acted corruptly in the initial investigation into the death of the teenager, and if any further lines of investigation are linked to possible corruption. It will also consider whether the original Macpherson Inquiry was given all the relevant material.

IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers told the committee she wanted to bring in more non-police recruits to do investigations, adding: "We do need some experienced police officers because of their capabilities to understand what's going on and to ask questions." She also called for more resources, saying her budget was smaller than the professional standards body of the Metropolitan Police. "I'm seeking the means to do what the IPCC was set up to do and what people within the IPCC want to be able to do," she said.