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Met boss grilled over Lawrence case

The head of Scotland Yard has come under pressure from MPs over claims exposed by the Stephen Lawrence review that police officers shredded "possibly thousands" of anti-corruption files.

Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe admitted he had not contacted his predecessors over the claims.

And the police chief revealed he had not asked to see a memo that reportedly summarises contents of now-destroyed files, which contain evidence of wholesale criminal behaviour by trusted police officers.

In a heated exchange, Committee chair Keith Vaz told the police chief he had failed to reassure the group of MP that the force was taking appropriate action to investigate the destruction of the files.

Revelations that anti-corruption files, gathered under Operation Othona, were destroyed came in Mark Ellison QC's review of the Stephen Lawrence investigation.

Mr Vaz asked Sir Bernard if he had seen a 2012 memo written by Detective Superintendent David Hurley , uncovered by Mr Ellison, that summarises the destroyed files.

The memo reportedly reveals officers s tole and trafficked illegal drugs, s hared reward payouts with informants, s old confidential police intelligence to criminals and f abricated applications for more rewards and accepted bribes to destroy and fabricate evidence.

Mr Vaz said: "Could I ask have you seen the memo written by DI Hurley?"

To which, the police chief replied: "I haven't."

He added: "I can't give you a list of who has seen it."

Sir Bernard admitted he had not asked to see it.

Mr Vaz said: "Sir Bernard, normally I find you very reassuring, I'm afraid I don't think we're reassured at the moment."

Earlier, the Committee chair asked why the Met chief had not written to previous commissioners to find out who authorised the destruction of the files, which is thought to have happened between 2001 and 2003.

Mr Vaz said: "Here we're talking about a mass shredding of documents, a report set up by the Home Secretary, we're talking about the chaotic state of the force's records, setting up a public inquiry - wouldn't you feel the reputation of your organisation demands you write a letter to your predecessors to find out who has authorised it?"

Sir Bernard said: "I'd like to reassure you, if there's a need to contact my predecessors we will, if I'm the right person to do it, I will."

Mr Ellison's report, published earlier this month, also found that an undercover police officer was working within the ''Lawrence family camp'' in the late 90s as evidence was being taken for the judicial inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson into Stephen's death.

Mr Lawrence, 18, a would-be architect, was stabbed to death by a group of up to six white youths, in an unprovoked racist attack as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, with a friend on April 22 1993. It took more than 18 years to bring two of his killers to justice.

In the wake of the Ellison Review's publication, Commander Richard Walton was temporarily removed from his post as head of the Met's counter-terrorism command SO15 over his links to the undercover operations.

An undercover officer - known as N81 - held a meeting in 1998 with Mr Walton, who was then an acting detective inspector working on Scotland Yard's Lawrence review team, responsible for making submissions to the Macpherson Inquiry.

Feedback from N81 touched on personal details concerning the Lawrence family, such as comments on the separation of Mr Lawrence's mother and father, Doreen and Neville.

N81 and Mr Walton's meeting was described as a ''fascinating and valuable exchange of information'' in police notes.

In addition, Mr Ellison found there is evidence to suspect one of the detectives on the original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation - detective sergeant John Davidson - acted corruptly.

It was claimed that he had links to Clifford Norris, the gangland boss father of David Norris, one of the two men who were finally convicted in 2012 of the teenager's racist murder.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced a judge-led public inquiry will be launched into the work of covert police and Scotland Yard's Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) - the top secret undercover policing unit that was up and running for nearly 40 years.


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