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Father of Stephen Lawrence has 'grave concerns' over undercover police inquiry

The father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has said he has "grave concerns" about the inquiry into undercover policing.

Neville Lawrence called on chairman Sir John Mitting to agree to sit as part of a panel rather than alone amid concerns about the number of undercover officers being granted anonymity in inquiry hearings.

This came as a number of women who claim they were deceived into romantic relationships with police moles wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to demand an urgent meeting about the probe.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) is examining the conduct of Metropolitan Police officers in England and Wales.

There has been controversy because the inquiry has not been extended to Northern Ireland.

Last month, dozens of campaigners and their lawyers walked out of an inquiry hearing in protest over the number of officers granted anonymity and "scant" reasons for the decision to do so.

In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mr Lawrence said: "I have grave concerns about how Chairman Mitting has been handling the anonymity applications by police officers, consistently granting them anonymity after hearing evidence behind closed doors and disclosing almost nothing to the lawyers representing the victims of police spying.

"Even senior officers who could give evidence about whether my family or I were spied upon have been granted anonymity, meaning they will give their evidence behind closed doors, shrouded in secrecy.

"This completely undermines my hopes for this inquiry."

Undercover officers from Scotland Yard's special demonstrations squad infiltrated groups linked to the campaign for justice for Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993.

Mr Lawrence added: "This is starting to look like anything but a public inquiry. If I do not have the cover names of people who were involved in undercover spying operations, I have no way of knowing for myself whether my family, my friends and I were victims and I will be unable to assist the inquiry in getting to the truth.

"The inquiry will be unable to consider anything except the views of the police whose actions they are investigating."

After initial denials, it was confirmed that members of the units worked in Northern Ireland, without the knowledge of the RUC or PSNI.

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