'No evidence' of Lawrence smears
A probe into Scotland Yard moles has found no evidence to back claims that undercover officers sought information to smear the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, a chief constable has said.
Mick Creedon, who is leading Operation Herne, an investigation into the activities of officers from the Met's now-defunct Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), told MPs there is no evidence to support the allegations.
Appearing at the Home Affairs Select Committee, he said: "There is nothing in Operation Herne which suggests any attempt whatsoever to do two things. Firstly to be tasked against the Stephen Lawrence family, and secondly to besmirch the Stephen Lawrence family."
Stephen's parents Neville and Doreen have called for a public inquiry to be held into the claims, which they believe is the only way to get to the truth.
Home Secretary Theresa May has indicated that she would back such a probe, if it was supported by lawyer Mark Ellison QC who is currently leading a review of allegations of police corruption in the original investigation into Stephen's death. He told MPs last week that he is unsure whether a full public inquiry will be necessary.
Mr Creedon, who is Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police, also revealed that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was aware that there were references to the Lawrence family in undercover police files before the smear claims were made public.
Former undercover officer Peter Francis claimed that officers from the SDS were tasked to try to find information to use against the family.
Mr Creedon said: "The allegations of attempts to smear the family are not what the Commissioner was aware of. The Commissioner was made aware that there had been covert departments which in a sense made reports on Stephen Lawrence, that's very different to attempts to smear the family."
Addressing the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mrs May said: "I was concerned by the serious allegations that were made, and I recognise the concerns and worry and anxiety that this has raised with Doreen and other members of the Lawrence family."
She went on: "I know Mark Ellison when he gave evidence before this committee was clear that he did not feel it was right to have a public inquiry at this stage." She added: "I'm asking Mark Ellison specifically to report to me as to whether or not he believes he has been able to get to the truth. If he is able to, this is the quickest way of doing it, if he has not been able to get to the truth, if he feels he has not been able to get all the evidence he needs, to tell me whether he feels a public inquiry is necessary and I commit now if he says a public inquiry is necessary then we will indeed set up a judge-led public inquiry."