Exclusive: New evidence links the murders of Stephen Lawrence and a private investigator

Amid police denials, documents show both botched original murder investigations were connected by one officer

Tom Harper
Sunday 09 March 2014 01:00 GMT

Explosive new evidence linking the two darkest chapters in Scotland Yard's modern history can be revealed today by The Independent on Sunday, heaping fresh pressure on the position of the current Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Leaked documents reveal a police officer accused of corruption in the Stephen Lawrence case has also been closely linked to one of the prime suspects in the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan, a private investigator found with an axe embedded in his skull in 1987.

Use of covert police listening devices suggests that a suspect in Morgan's murder knew John Davidson, a detective sergeant who is alleged to have confessed to a corrupt relationship with the father of David Norris, one of the racist gang who stabbed Lawrence to death in 1993.

Under Sir Bernard's leadership, the Metropolitan Police appears to be playing down links between the Morgan case and the murder of the aspiring black architect in 1993 – a position that has been called into question by both the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and Mark Ellison QC, who published a withering review of the Lawrence police investigation last week.

Only last month, Scotland Yard insisted to Mr Ellison's team that the then DS Davidson did not work on the original investigation into the murder of Morgan, who was killed in a south London car park 27 years ago amid claims he was about to blow the whistle on police corruption.

However, a Met intelligence report from 2003, seen by The IoS, states that "Davidson was attached to the initial investigation of the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987".

On Friday, the BBC broadcast details of another police file that allegedly mentioned DS Davidson's name nine times in connection with the botched original inquiry into Morgan's murder.

The victim's brother, Alastair, said: "The crossovers between Daniel's case and the Lawrence murder are getting worse and worse. There is so much more to come out... These repeated cover-ups by the Met are surely criminal acts."

Imran Khan, the Lawrence family's long-time lawyer, said the "shocking revelations... further undermine the already battered reputation of the Met. There is an urgent need for honesty and transparency".

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "I am astonished by these alleged links. Bernard Hogan-Howe stated that the Ellison Review led to the worst day of his career, but without establishing the full extent of any previous corruption it is likely things will only get worse."

Last week, a review of the Stephen Lawrence case by Mr Ellison concluded that DS Davidson could be linked to the original Met investigation into the Daniel Morgan case.

This was despite Scotland Yard telling the Ellison Review just last month that the link was false. However, the QC cast doubt on current police assurances, concluding: "We have some reservations about accepting this assertion."

Now it can be revealed that covert police bugs that monitored one of the Morgan suspects picked up multiple references to DS Davidson in May 1999. The individual was caught discussing the alleged corrupt officer on the phone, and referred to him by his nickname "OJ" – which stands for "Obnoxious Jock". He also expressed sympathy for DS Davidson, and was concerned that police were trying to "make him a patsy".

The sensitive use of bugs was authorised by then deputy commissioner John Stevens, now Lord Stevens.

One year earlier, DS Davidson had been named by Met supergrass Neil Putnam as having a corrupt relationship with gangland boss Clifford Norris, the father of one of the racists who killed Lawrence.

At the time, Sir William Macpherson was leading a public inquiry into the murder and later concluded the Met was "institutionally racist", but he ruled out corruption as a factor in the botched initial investigation. However, last week the Ellison Review concluded that Scotland Yard withheld full details of Putnam's claims from the Macpherson Inquiry.

The QC told Parliament that then-deputy commissioner John Stevens released scant detail on the Davidson corruption allegations to Sir William in 1998, and failed to inform the Met's legal department of the new Lawrence-related intelligence.

The Ellison Review also found the Met under John Stevens' stewardship authorised the "mass-shredding" of documents from Operation Othona, an unprecedented four-year police investigation into police corruption during the 1990s.

Meanwhile, in the same year, a Met police intelligence report prepared by a policeman acting as a liaison officer with the Morgan family analysed Davidson's links to the case. The report "states Davidson was attached to the initial investigation of the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987", and is "known to associate" with some of the suspects.

Despite this report, the Met told the Ellison Review that Davidson did not work on the original inquiry.

A Met spokesperson said: "We have co-operated fully with the Ellison Review."

A spokesman for Lord Stevens did not respond to requests for comment last night.



Private detective Daniel Morgan murdered in a south London car park in 1987. Flawed initial investigation into death involves police detective Sid Fillery and, allegedly, John Davidson.


Fillery leaves the Met on medical grounds and becomes a private detective. He is later charged and acquitted of the Morgan murder.


Aspiring architect Stephen Lawrence stabbed to death at a bus stop in south-east London. Family immediately suspicious of police investigation, which includes John Davidson, into Stephen's death.

New Scotland Yard

1994 – 1998

Unprecedented Met anti-corruption investigation – codenamed Operation Othona – uncovers extraordinary levels of criminality inside Scotland Yard. Very few officers prosecuted.


Sir William Macpherson
Sir William Macpherson

Public Inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson into the botched investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence concludes the Met is "institutionally racist", but finds there was no evidence of corruption. During the public inquiry, the Met had a spy close to the Lawrence family informing police about the state of the couple's marriage.


Rogue ex-police officer Neil Putnam turns supergrass and claims Davidson was corruptly involved with the father of David Norris, one of the racist gang who killed Lawrence. Then deputy commissioner John Stevens releases barest details of Putnam's claims to Macpherson and tells the Met's legal team nothing of new intelligence.

John Stevens


Scotland Yard covert bugs monitoring the Morgan murder suspects pick up references to Davidson. Authorisations for the intrusive listening devices signed off by John Stevens, now Lord Stevens.


Met Police intelligence report concludes Davidson worked on the original Morgan murder investigation.


Mass shredding of all Operation Othona evidence by the Met.


Latest attempt to secure convictions for the murder of Daniel Morgan collapses after the Met fails to disclose key information to the defendants, one of whom is Fillery.


David Norris and Gary Dobson
David Norris and Gary Dobson

After years of pressure from the media, the Met and CPS secure convictions for the murder of Lawrence. David Norris and Gary Dobson sentenced to life in prison.


Lord Leveson concludes that police whistleblowers should be banned from speaking to newspapers and should address all concerns internally to the Met.


Police whistleblower Peter Francis, who worked in the undercover unit that targeted the Lawrences, reveals to a newspaper that Stephen Lawrence's family had been targeted. Home Secretary Theresa May asks Mark Ellison QC to investigate.


Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons
Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons

Scotland Yard tells Ellison Review that Davidson was not involved with the original Morgan murder investigation. Ellison concludes that he was, and also finds the Met withheld details of Davidson's corruption from the Macpherson inquiry. Theresa May announces new judge-led public inquiry.

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