Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has offered to meet Stephen Lawrence’s mother to discuss her demands for a public inquiry into allegations that police corruption undermined the hunt for the murdered teenager’s killers.
MPs argued today that an internal police investigation into the claims was inadequate and pressed for a Macpherson-style inquiry into the allegations. Labour is also calling for a wide-ranging examination of efforts by the police to root out racism in the ranks. Making an emergency Commons statement, the Home Office minister James Brokenshire said Mrs May regarded the new corruption allegations with “absolute seriousness”.
He disclosed she had invited Doreen Lawrence to the Home Office to discuss her worries and that she would also urge the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, to speed up its investigation.
The Lawrence family wrote to Mrs May last month asking for a new public inquiry after an investigation by The Independent revealed previously unseen intelligence reports into a lead detective on the inquiry team, John Davidson, detailing extensive allegations of corruption against him.
The reports found Mr Davidson was a “major player” in a ring of bent detectives “operating as a professional organised crime syndicate”. He has denied the allegations and has now retired and runs a bar in Spain.
In 2007, the Independent Police Complaints commission found no evidence of corruption involving DS Davidson.
Mr Brokenshire told MPs: “Allegations of police corruption must always be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”
He said Mrs May would make a decision on whether to order a public inquiry once the police reported.
But Mr Brokenshire added: “I am sure she will be having further discussions with the Metropolitan Police commissioner in terms of the timing of their investigation, recognising the public concern that is attached to this.”
The statement was forced by Clive Efford, the Labour MP for Eltham, where Stephen was murdered by a racist gang in 1993. Arguing that “only an independent public inquiry will satisfy public concerns over the new allegations”, he said: “We cannot have any more bluster and delay. There has been far too much of that since the very moment Stephen Lawrence was murdered.”
Mrs Lawrence made her plea for an inquiry after the publication last month of The Independent’s report.
Earlier Ms May told the Commons home affairs select committee: “There are certain aspects of the way the Metropolitan Police have handled some of the issues around this case that need to be bottomed out before a decision [about a public inquiry] is taken.”