Police watchdog slammed as 'inadequate' by adviser to Macpherson Inquiry

Dr Richard Stone piles further pressure on IPCC over investigation into the Stephen Lawrence murder case

David Connett
Saturday 11 April 2015 23:16
Doreen Lawrence, centre, with son Stuart and solicitor Imran Khan after meeting Met chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in 2013
Doreen Lawrence, centre, with son Stuart and solicitor Imran Khan after meeting Met chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in 2013

Serious questions about the fitness of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate far-reaching allegations of police corruption have been raised by a former member of the Macpherson Inquiry. The judge’s investigation is said to have been misled by Scotland Yard about the extent of corrupt police involvement in the 1993 investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Dr Richard Stone, an adviser to the Macpherson Inquiry, said: “I question whether the IPCC is a fit and proper organisation to be involved in this investigation.” He said he believed the IPCC had “inadequate resources and an inappropriate culture” for such investigations.

His criticism of the police watchdog follows the IPCC’s announcement that it is investigating Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, over Scotland Yard’s failure to pass on documents about corruption probes into a detective investigating Lawrence’s murder.

The family of the 1987 murder victim Daniel Morgan have called for an independent judicial inquiry into the Lawrence case. Alastair Morgan, the victim’s brother, said: “Only a judicial inquiry can properly address whether the police misled the Macpherson Inquiry about corruption. The fact they are being called upon at this point to investigate a catastrophic mess in their own back yard is laughable. The unpalatable truth is this: growing numbers of people distrust the police and there are good reasons for this distrust. The Lawrence family, like us, have been fighting for answers for more than two decades.”

He also challenged Scotland Yard to produce secret corruption files said to have been destroyed. “The corruption files are likely to have held key information on suspect officers on both the Stephen Lawrence murder and my brother’s, indeed they may well have contained further information on links between the two cases,” he said.

It was also revealed that Mark Ellison QC, the senior barrister appointed by the Home Office to review Scotland Yard’s investigations into alleged police corruption, admitted to potential witnesses he was appointed because the IPCC and the police internal review systems “are not particularly trusted”.

Legal observers have pointed out the paradox of the fact that despite the Home Secretary actively choosing Mark Ellison over the IPCC to head a police corruption probe after two reports concluded there was no evidence of a cover up, the IPCC is once again – on referral from the Metropolitan Police – investigating the same issues Theresa May chose not to task them with.

Baroness Lawrence, Stephen’s mother, has previously expressed doubts about the value of the IPCC. A Parliamentary Select Committee concluded that the IPCC was “woefully underequipped and hamstrung” and had “neither the powers nor the resources it needs to get to the truth when the integrity of the police is in doubt”.

David Winnick, a senior Labour member of the committee, confirmed that questions remained over the IPCC’s abilities: “They need much more resources to do their job properly.” He said there was also an “over-reliance” on former detectives to investigate, but added, “I don’t question their integrity.”

The IPCC annual budget has fallen 13 per cent to £30m in the past four years, but Dame Anne Owers, the IPCC chair, denies that cash constraints prevent it from undertaking independent investigations.

The IPCC declined to comment.

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