Yard race man joins Lawrence inquiry detective moved to `new job'

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The Independent Online
THE DETECTIVE heading the dormant investigation into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence has been moved because of a corruption inquiry and replaced by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve, head of the Metropolitan Police's specialist race crime unit.

Scotland Yard said yesterday that Detective Superintendent Albert Patrick had been taken off the Lawrence case as a result of the unrelated inquiry into officers based at the Flying Squad in east London.

The family's solicitor, Imran Khan, had demanded Mr Patrick's removal in a letter to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, last week.

News of Mr Khan's move emerged on the same day The Independent revealed that both he and Michael Mansfield QC, barrister for the Lawrences, face criticism in the report of the public inquiry into Stephen's death for their failure to dissuade the family from the ill-fated private prosecution of the murder suspects. Yesterday both refused to comment on the disclosure.

There is no suggestion that Mr Patrick is directly implicated in the allegations of corruption, but he faces a disciplinary investigation understood to relate to the supervision of officers in his charge.

Mr Grieve, the highly respected head of the Met's racial and violent crime taskforce, is now the detective in charge of all the high-profile race murder investigations in London.

He is leading the hunt for the killers of Michael Menson, the black musician who was set on fire in a London street, as well as the investigation into the case of Ricky Reel, an Asian student found drowned in the Thames.

John Stevens, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said yesterday the decision to remove Mr Patrick was taken in December, before Mr Khan's letter was received.

"We decided that now would be an appropriate, sensitive and sensible time to make that move," he said.

The corruption allegations date from an era before Mr Patrick headed the Lawrence investigation, and are not connected with the Lawrence case.

Mr Stevens stressed that Mr Patrick had not been charged, disciplined or suspended. His new job is to carry out a review of major area crime units.

Mr Patrick was in charge of the third squad of detectives to investigate Stephen's murder by a white gang in April 1993. No one has been convicted.

Mr Grieve hopes to follow up new lines of inquiry. But he will also ask members of the public to volunteer fresh information about the killing.

Peter Gammon, chairman of the Police Superintendents' Association, attacked what he called "the continued vilification of the police service" over the Lawrence case.

Mr Gammon said: "Accusations of racism are still being levelled at officers involved and at the police service as a whole."

Last night Mr Patrick said he would vigorously defend his case. He said: "I am a big man, I will bounce back.

"I have done nothing wrong. I would not want to leave, as people are thinking, that I am a bent Old Bill. I'm not. I will not leave until my name is cleared."