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Lawrence family smear claims denied

A former Scotland Yard officer has denied allegations that his undercover unit tried to smear the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Bob Lambert, who was a manager at the controversial Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) for five years, insisted he had not been aware of any such campaign.

The comments, in an interview with Channel 4 News, came after one of his ex-colleagues, Peter Francis, claimed he had been asked to gather information that could discredit those close to Mr Lawrence.

There have been calls for a judicial inquiry into the allegations, which date back to the period after the teenager was killed in a racist attack in April 1993.

Mr Lambert said he had "always had the greatest empathy" for Mr Lawrence's parents Doreen and Neville.

"I really do want to reassure them that at no time in my tenure as an SDS manager - which is from November 1993 until when I left in 1998, which was round about the time of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry - at no time was the SDS concerned in smearing their family or their campaign," he said.

Mr Lambert - who has been accused of firebombing a department store and fathering a child during his own time undercover with environmental activists - was asked whether Special Branch had received information from the Lawrences' family liaison officers. He replied: "Not to my direct knowledge. But I wouldn't rule it out."

Mr Francis told Channel 4 News that he stood by his claims and was ready to repeat them under oath. "It does not surprise me that Mr Lambert has responded in this way to me becoming a whistleblower and telling the public what really happened in the SDS," he said.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said the latest development reinforced the case for a judicial inquiry.

He said the issues surrounding covert policing were "huge", stretching over 20 years. "The only way that this can be dealt with properly is for there to be a judge-led inquiry," he said.

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