STEPHEN Lawrence’s mother has warned police it will “take a while to gain back trust” after claims an undercover officer attempted to smear her family following the racist murder.
• Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, to meet Metropolitan Police chief over claims undcover officers attempted to conduct smear campaign
• Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will be confronted with claims GMP’s Special Branch sent memo in 1998 instructing divisions to seek information on individuals due to attend the Macpherson inquiry into police handling of Lawrence case
Doreen Lawrence met Britain’s most senior policeman, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, at New Scotland Yard yesterday to
discuss allegations about the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).
Claims have been made by former undercover officer Peter Francis that attempts were made to find information to smear the Lawrence family following Stephen’s murder in April 1993.
After the meeting, she said: “Over the years we look at how many things have changed and how people are beginning to
respond to things. Now, it’s like taking a couple of steps back. It will take a while to gain back trust again.”
Before the meeting, Sir Bernard said he would try to answer some of the 13 questions that her lawyer submitted to the force.
Afterwards, Mrs Lawrence said: “The Commissioner was frank with some of his answers that he gave us. Well, he answered some of our questions and he needs to get answers, too. Do I have confidence in him? Whatever he has said he is trying to do, I think he will do it.”
But she said she was more interested in what his predecessors knew. This commissioner has only been in his post for two years. Since the Lawrence case, there has been three before him, Mrs Lawrence said.
“I will be looking at what they knew during that time – especially the commissioner who was in charge of the Met at that time, when these allegations happened.”
Sir Bernard told Mrs Lawrence it was not for him to call for a public inquiry – that was up to the Home Secretary. Mrs Lawrence met Theresa May on Thursday to urge her to hold a full public investigation.
Mrs May said earlier this week that the Francis claims could be examined by two existing inquiries – a police investigation into the activities of undercover officers and another, led by Mark Ellison, QC, into allegations of corruption in the original investigation into Stephen’s murder.
Speaking after her meeting with the Home Secretary, Mrs Lawrence said: “I made my point quite clear. For the past 20 years, we as a family have been talking about corruption and we have undercover officers trying to smear our family. I want answers. I want to know who was the senior officer who signed that off.
“We had no idea this was going on from 1993 until 1997.”
Stephen’s father Neville has also said he wants a judge-led public inquiry, claiming that the current investigations are not enough to get to the truth.
Sir Bernard said he has asked Mick Creedon, the officer from Derbyshire Police leading the inquiry into the SDS, to prioritise the Lawrence claims.
The SDS was set up in 1968 and dissolved in 2008, and its actions have already proven controversial. Undercover officers from the SDS have been accused of fathering children with women who did not know their true identities.
Mrs Lawrence met the commissioner as Greater Manchester Police (GMP) began their own investigation into the case.
It was claimed GMP’s Special Branch sent a memo in August 1998 to all divisions seeking information on “groups or individuals” expected to attend the Manchester-based Macpherson inquiry into the police handling of the Lawrence murder case.