Call for racist murder 'smear' claim probe

2013-06-24 12:12
UK Prime Minister David Cameron (File, AP)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron (File, AP)

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London - Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday urged Scotland Yard to investigate reports that police spied on the family of the victim of Britain's most notorious racist murder in a bid to smear them.

The Guardian newspaper reported that a former undercover officer had told them he was part of an operation to spy on relatives of teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death at a London bus stop on 22 April 1993.

"The Prime Minister is deeply concerned by reports that the police wanted to smear Stephen Lawrence's family and would like the Metropolitan police to investigate immediately," a spokesperson for Cameron said.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police added "a thorough review and investigation" was being undertaken into the latest claims.

The killing of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence sparked an overhaul of British policing after an official report found that "institutional racism" had tainted the original investigation.

But in the new claims, the Guardian quoted undercover cop Peter Francis as saying that he had posed as an anti-racist activist in order to try and obtain information which would discredit the campaign for a more thorough investigation.

No justification

"I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign," Francis told the paper.

"They wanted the campaign to stop. It was felt it was going to turn into an elephant.

"Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns."

Two white men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of the murder in January 2012 on the basis of new forensic evidence. They lost an appeal against their life sentences in August.

They were among five suspects arrested within days of Lawrence's murder, and police say that the investigation into possible accomplices remains "live".

Lawrence's mother, Doreen, told the paper that there was no justification in "trying to discredit the family and people around us".

Read more on:    racism

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