Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Doreen Lawrence: I've lost trust

Doreen Lawrence leaves the Home Office with her son Stuart following a meeting with the Home Secretary Theresa May

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has said it will "take a while to gain back trust again" after she met Britain's most senior policeman to discuss claims that undercover officers hunted for information to smear her family.

Doreen Lawrence visited New Scotland Yard to discuss the allegations about the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad with Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

After the meeting, Mrs Lawrence 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."

The meeting comes as Greater Manchester Police (GMP) begin their own Lawrence investigation. 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.

Sir Bernard said earlier that during the meeting with Mrs Lawrence he would try to answer some of the 13 questions that her lawyer Imran Khan submitted to the force.

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."

Stephen's mother said that as Sir Bernard had only been in the post for two years, she was more focused on what his predecessors knew about the allegations. She went on: "It's going to take some time to build that trust again. I think people at times felt they were beginning to - but I think that's just destroyed some of that now so they need to find some way of how to build that trust yet again."

Sir Bernard told Mrs Lawrence it was not for him to call for a public inquiry - it was up to the Home Secretary. Mrs Lawrence met Theresa May at the Home Office on Thursday to urge her to hold a full investigation in public.

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. Mrs May said earlier this week that the 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.

After the meeting, Sir Bernard said: "The deputy commissioner and I were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet Doreen and Stuart Lawrence today. It was a constructive meeting. These are serious allegations and I understand why the Lawrence family want answers quickly. I am determined for Operation Herne to establish the facts as quickly as possible for an operation of this size."

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