Former MPS officers may face charges as IOPC concludes Stephen Lawrence corruption investigation
Four former Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers who worked on the initial investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence may face criminal charges for misconduct, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on behalf of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
A file of evidence has been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following a six-year inquiry into whether corruption played a part failure of the original investigation.
Mr Lawrence was murdered by a gang of racists in southeast London in April 1993. Although suspects were named by informants in the early days of the investigation, no arrests were made for two weeks.
Only two men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, have ever been brought to justice for the murder and there have been claims that corrupt officers attempted to protect Norris, whose father Clifford was a well-known figure in the criminal underworld.
IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: “This has been a vast and comprehensive investigation by the NCA, involving the gathering and analysis of several million pages of information and intelligence spanning over 27 years since the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and the attack on Duwayne Brooks on April 22, 1993.
“NCA investigators have also interviewed over 150 people including serving and former police officers and staff involved in the original murder inquiry, relevant witnesses and others, including journalists with in-depth knowledge of the original investigation.
“In 2014, the MPS referred to us the conduct of one former officer, who had some involvement with the original investigation into Stephen’s murder, to consider whether that officer had acted corruptly during that investigation.
“The allegations faced were that they were improperly influenced or motivated, to protect at least one of the suspects during the original murder investigation. Following exhaustive inquiries, the officer was advised in early 2019 that they were no longer subject to this investigation because there was no indication of corruption on their part in relation to the investigation of Stephen’s murder.
“Prior to that decision and as the evidence developed, in 2018 we asked the MPS to refer the conduct of four former police officers to the IOPC in relation to their handling of the early part of the murder investigation, and well-documented failings, for consideration of whether they may have committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office. All four former officers were in senior roles at various times during the first few weeks of the investigation.
“At the end of an investigation of this type, the IOPC must determine whether there is an indication that any police officer, during the course of their duties, may have committed a criminal offence. Following thorough and careful analysis of the evidence, we have decided there is an indication that four former officers may have committed the offence of misconduct in public office in relation to their actions and omissions prior to the arrests of the five key suspects for Stephen’s murder in 1993. We will be providing a full file of evidence to the CPS over coming days.
“It is important to note that a referral to the CPS does not necessarily mean that criminal charges will follow. It will now be for prosecutors to determine, applying the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, whether charges should follow and, if so for whom and what those charges may be.”