Lawrences issue writs against 42 Met officers for racial bias

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Forty-two Scotland Yard officers, including Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, are being sued by the parents of Stephen Lawrence for the bungled inquiry into their son's murder, police said yesterday.

Forty-two Scotland Yard officers, including Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, are being sued by the parents of Stephen Lawrence for the bungled inquiry into their son's murder, police said yesterday.

The writs against the officers, who range from police constables to superintendents involved in the day-to-day handling of the case, were lodged by lawyers representing Neville and Doreen Lawrence.

The officers, who were told about the claims last week, are being sued under Section 20 of the Race Relations Act, which refers to discrimination on the ground of race. The black teenager was stabbed in April 1993 by a gang in a racist attack, while he was at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.

The Metropolitan Police's initial investigation was strongly criticised in an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny. His final report, which was made public in February, concluded: "The investigation was marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers."

Duwayne Brooks, who was with Stephen when he died, issued writs against 15 police officers in August. The Lawrence family's intention to sue was revealed in February.

Glen Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, condemned the action as a "crusade for vengeance". He added: "At the end of the day, Stephen's killers are not among the 42 police officers who arebeing sued."

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: "All the officers served with the writs have been reassured of the continuing support of the Commissioner in defending these claims. The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] will bear the legal costs for the officers to defend these actions, and meet any damages that may be awarded against them."

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