POLITICS

Stephen Lawrence Smear Claims: Theresa May Announces Two Inquiries

24/06/2013 16:12 BST | Updated 24/06/2013 19:19 BST
AP

Updated 20:15, 24 June 2013 - Neville Lawrence statement added

Allegations that undercover officers tried to smear the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence are to be investigated by two ongoing inquiries into claims of police wrong-doing, Home Secretary Theresa May announced today.

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to "get the full truth out" about the "horrific" allegations made by former policeman Peter Francis, who reportedly posed as an anti-racist activist in the mid-1990s and said he came under "huge and constant pressure" to "hunt for disinformation" to undermine those campaigning for more effective investigation into the murder.

Mrs May told MPs that the claims would be considered by the inquiry into the undercover operations of the Special Demonstration Squad in London in the 1980s and 1990s, being led by Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon under the oversight of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as well as the review of alleged police corruption in the original Lawrence inquiry being conducted by Mark Ellison QC.

The Home Secretary said she would be "ruthless" in purging the Metropolitan Police of any misconduct and made clear that prosecutions could follow the conclusion of the inquiries. But she resisted calls to hand the investigation into undercover policing over to the IPCC, telling MPs that chairman Anne Owers did not believe this would "enhance the investigation".

Scotland Yard has said it is "not prepared to confirm or deny" the truth of Mr Francis's claims, which surfaced as a result of a joint investigation into undercover policing by the Guardian and Channel 4's Dispatches programme, to be broadcast tonight.

But Mr Cameron promised to "get the full truth out".

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Speaking in 10 Downing Street shortly before Mrs May's statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: "Let's be clear, these are absolutely dreadful allegations and we can only think of the Lawrence family, who have suffered so much already from the loss of their son.

"To hear that, potentially, the police that were meant to be helping them were actually undermining them - that's horrific.

"We have investigations under way... We must make sure those investigations get rapidly to the bottom of what's happened and we get the full truth out."

However, Mrs May's statement was dismissed as "completely unsatisfactory" by Stephen Lawrence's father who called for a judge-led inquiry into the claims.

In a statement issued from his home in Jamaica, Neville Lawrence said: "I understand that the home secretary has announced that she will extend the inquiries of Mark Ellison QC and Operation Herne, I would like to make it clear that I find this completely unsatisfactory.

"I am convinced that nothing short of a judge-led public inquiry will suffice and I have no confidence that the measures announced today will get to the bottom of this matter."