PM: Lawrence case corruption claims must be examined

MPs' committee to widen standards inquiry to scrutinise allegations of police misconduct

Nigel Morris,Paul Peachey
Thursday 08 March 2012 01:00

Police chiefs were urged by Downing Street last night to examine closely any fresh evidence that the inquiry into Stephen Lawrence's murder had been seriously hindered by police corruption.

Following this week's investigation by The Independent, the Lawrence family will tomorrow press Scotland Yard to investigate new claims of criminality involving Detective Sergeant John Davidson, a key officer at the heart of the initial police inquiry. The Metropolitan Police has said it had no plans to investigate further.

But an influential group of MPs last night increased the pressure on the force, as well as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), by disclosing they would scrutinise the new allegations. And David Cameron's official spokesman said: "If there is any new evidence of police corruption, then that should be handed in to the police or the IPCC. They should be able to follow that evidence wherever it leads them."

The Independent can disclose that the fresh allegations of police criminality will be examined by the Commons home affairs select committee as part of an investigation into police standards. The committee inquiry was originally intended to cover the relationship between the police and journalists in the light of evidence emerging at the Leveson Inquiry into the media. But Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, confirmed that the MPs would widen the probe to cover allegations of police corruption, including in the Lawrence case.

He called for Dame Anne Owers, the IPCC's new chair, to reopen its investigation into police conduct after the Lawrence murder. David Winnick, a senior committee member, said the original police murder inquiry had been a "disgrace" and fresh allegations of wrongdoing had to be "thoroughly investigated".

Stephen Lawrence's parents, Doreen and Neville, and their legal advisers will attend tomorrow's meeting with the CPS and the police. The meeting is the first one scheduled since the convictions of two of the killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris.

The Macpherson Inquiry report into the circumstances surrounding the murder highlighted the problem of establishing whether there was collusion or corruption in the original investigation. The panel found there was no evidence of any contact between police and Clifford Norris – the drug-dealing father of David. The IPCC reiterated yesterday it had not seen anything that would change its findings or cause it to look into the matter again.