Twenty years after the fatal racist attack of their teenage son, the parents of Stephen Lawrence received another disturbing blow. A former undercover police officer based in Greater London revealed how he had spent four years involved in a secret campaign to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family and others integral to bringing their son’s killers to justice.
Prime Minister David Cameron responded to the family’s demand for a public inquiry, but did not acquiesce.
“Nothing is off the table,” Cameron told the House of Commons. “If more needs to be done, if further investigations or inquiries need to be held, they will be held. This is not an acceptable situation.”
A group of white young men instigated a racially motivated attack against Lawrence, while the Black 18-year-old waited for a bus in South London on April 22, 1993. He died from stab wounds inflicted by the group. The murder of Lawrence sparked a series of major changes to police and law practices, including a partial reversal of double jeopardy laws and the Macpherson report.
The whistle blower, Peter Francis, alleged that his superiors in the Metropolitan police force pressured him to “hunt for disinformation” in the mid-1990s to undermine those campaigning for a better investigation into Lawrence’s murder. Francis, who posed as an anti-racist activist to "dig dirt," also admitted to infiltrating two other “Black justice” campaigns.
"They wanted the campaign to stop,” Francis told The Guardian. “It was felt it was going to turn into an elephant.”
David Winnick, a member of Parliament, voiced disbelief at Cameron’s lack of immediacy, mirroring the sentiments of the Lawrence family supporters.
"Is the prime minister aware how shocking it was that the police apparently spent more time investigating the parents and friends of Stephen Lawrence than the racist murder itself, which took place in 1993?” Winnick reportedly asked. "Is the home secretary, when she meets Mrs. Lawrence, is she going to apologize for what occurred and is it really right for the police to investigate itself?"
Once a high-profile unsolved murder, Lawrence’s death was attached to two of the suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, who were convicted in 2012.
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(Photo: Luke MacGregor/Reuters)
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