Stephen Lawrence’s parents are losing confidence that a ‘spy cops’ probe will reveal the truth about why undercover police targeted their family after his murder, their lawyers have said.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry heard today how officers circled the Lawrence family, looking to smear them instead of catching their son’s killers.
It was told that the Lawrence family ‘were not terrorists, criminals or any threat to public order’ and that there was ‘no conceivable justification’ for the snooping.
In an opening statement for Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Imran Khan QC said that she doubts the new investigation will discover why they were spied on.
Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a gang of racists in 1993, and incompetence and racism in the police marred the original investigation into his death
How the family of Stephen Lawrence was spied on by police
A campaign group for Stephen Lawrence was one of several organisations that were spied on by undercover police.
Peter Francis, a former officer in the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) turned whistle-blower, claimed that he had been tasked with finding ‘dirt’ on the Lawrence family in the late 1990s. This has always been denied by the force.
What is known is that one undercover officer who used the fake name David Hagan, as well as Mr Francis, joined Movement for Justice in the late 1990s and remained a member for two or three years.
This was during the Macpherson public inquiry into both Stephen’s murder and the alleged corruption, racism and incompetence that dogged the police investigation into his death.
The undercover officer attended the inquiry pretending to be a supporter of the Lawrence campaign, while feeding information back to colleagues in the Met.
In August 1998 he met with acting detective inspector Richard Walton, who was working on Scotland Yard’s final submissions to the inquiry, and passed on details he had gathered while undercover.
This included the fact that Stephen’s parents had separated but also information about the ‘progress, reasons and details of the decisions made by the Lawrence family connected to the inquiry’.
In 2014 a report on undercover policing by barrister Mark Ellison QC alleged that Mr Walton ‘obtained information pertaining to the Lawrence family and their supporters, potentially undermining the inquiry and public confidence’.
He said that had the officer’s presence been revealed, it would have caused ‘public disorder of a far more serious kind than anything envisaged by the original undercover deployment’.
Dr Neville Lawrence has called for the cover names of another four officers involved in the deployment to be published by the Undercover Policing Inquiry.
- HN109 who was Peter Francis’s manager at the beginning of his deployment
- HN101 Mr Francis’s colleague
- HN86 the Detective chief inspector in charge of the SDS from 1993 to 1996 who was said to hold racist views and allegedly told Mr Francis to find dirt on the Lawrence family
- HN58 the head of the SDS from 1997 to 2001 who allegedly knew about the meeting between Mr Hagan and Mr Walton
He has also called for more information on the role of two family liaison officers, who began taking down the names of visitors to the Lawrences’ home in the wake of Stephen’s murder. A list of these visitors was ultimately passed to the SDS.
Dr Lawrence found their behaviour so ‘deeply insensitive and disrespectful’ that he stopped them from coming to his house.
Today, Heather Williams QC, representing Dr Lawrence, told the Undercover Policing Inquiry: ‘He is horrified by the sheer fact that there were undercover officers circling him and his family at this intensely difficult and personal time, looking for material with which to smear them; especially when officers should have been doing all in their power to find his son’s killers.’
She went on: ‘None of this can have been for any legitimate policing purpose. If these matters are true, this is yet another indication that, at least where black families are concerned, the organisation that should be there to protect them, the Metropolitan Police, is actually trying to undermine them.
‘How can the public have confidence in the policing of black communities, if police power is misused to discredit the victims of crime? This all increases the perception for many people that, to the police, black lives do not matter.’
Stephen was murdered by a gang of racists in 1993, and incompetence and racism in the police marred the original investigation into his death.
Nearly 20 years later, two of his killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally jailed, but the remaining three suspects never faced justice.
Mr Khan said: ‘Baroness Lawrence is losing confidence, if she has not already lost it, in this inquiry’s ability to get to the truth.
‘The truth as to why she, her family and supporters were spied upon by the police.
‘This inquiry is not delivering on what she was promised and is not achieving what she expected.’
The sentiment was echoed by Heather Williams QC, representing Stephen’s father Dr Neville Lawrence, who said: ‘The progress of this inquiry to date does not lead him to feel confidence in its approach or in its outcome.
‘In order for him to draw a line under these terrible events, it is very important to Dr Lawrence that he is able to participate in a fully transparent inquiry, capable of establishing the truth of what happened and capable of learning the lessons necessary to prevent reoccurrence.’
The Lawrences also both raised concerns about the number of police officers and staff who have been granted anonymity – currently the cover names of 51 officers must remain secret, along with 119 of the real names of officers and staff.
Ms Williams said that if the family are at least given the officers’ cover names, they will be able to give evidence about what the police spies did.
So far, one has been published – David Hagan – but there are four others who remain anonymous that Dr Lawrence would like identified.
Baroness Lawrence believes it was only the public nature of the Macpherson Inquiry into her son’s death that meant that the incompetence and racism in the Metropolitan Police was exposed.
Mr Khan said: ‘The fact that the Metropolitan Police and the individual officers have made applications for anonymity and, more importantly, that they have been granted, is a travesty and goes against everything that a public inquiry stands for and what Baroness Lawrence expected.
‘It appears to her that this inquiry is more interested in protecting the alleged perpetrators than the victims.’
The Lawrences also both called on inquiry chairman Sir John Mitting to appoint panel members to help him focus on issues including racism, in the same way as the inquiry into their son’s death in the 1990s.
Mr Khan said Baroness Lawrence believes there has been ‘very little’ change in the Metropolitan Police since her son’s death, and that what action has been taken has been forced upon the service.
It also emerged that undercover officers had spied on the family’s campaign for justice, with whistleblower Peter Francis claiming he had been tasked with finding ‘dirt’ on the Lawrences and their supporters.
Mr Khan said: ‘For any parent to have to outlive their child is unimaginable – to lose their child in such circumstances is inconceivable; to still be fighting for justice 27 years on is unacceptable; and for those parents to be fighting for justice while being spied upon by the police, whose very role was to support and protect them, is simply unforgiveable.’
His opening statement included powerful words from Baroness Lawrence, that read: ‘No one can truly understand the sheer depth of the heartache I have felt.
‘Many have thought that I have courted press attention and profited from it – the reality is that I long for anonymity and would give up all that I have just to go back to the seconds before Stephen’s death and prevent it.
‘I am just an ordinary person. I have nothing special that deserves public attention or acclaim. I simply ask for justice.’
Both he and Ms Williams ended their statements by urging Sir John not to fail Stephen’s family as has happened in the past.
Mr Khan said: ‘You now have the choice of either being one of those in the long line of those that failed Baroness Lawrence or those very few that did not.’
Neville and Doreen Lawrence are losing confidence that a ‘spy cops’ probe will reveal the truth about why undercover police targeted their family after his murder
Heather Williams QC, representing Stephen’s father Dr Neville Lawrence, said: ‘The progress of this inquiry to date does not lead him to feel confidence in its approach or in its outcome.’
Ms Williams told the inquiry: ‘Dr Lawrence has been failed so badly by the state over so many years, as we have shown.
‘He very much hopes that he will not have a similar experience with this inquiry.’
Spy cop who had year-long relationship with activist while undercover before vanishing reappeared seven years later and tricked her into sex, inquiry told
A spy cop who had a year-long relationship with a pro-Palestine activist before he vanished for seven years, reappeared and tricked her into leaving her partner and having sex with him, an inquiry has been told.
The undercover cop was working under the name of Robert Harrison as part of Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad’s investigation.
An inquiry into the squad’s behaviour has heard 21 women were tricked into relationships with police spies.
Phillippa Kaufmann QC made an opening statement to the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) yesterday.
In it she revealed a woman named Maya, whose identity is being protected, formed a sexual relationship lasting almost a year with ‘Harrison,’ after meeting in Lewisham in 2006.
Phillippa Kaufmann QC told the Undercover Policing Inquiry at least 21 women were deceived into relationships with cops infiltrating groups, including Maya, who left her partner of five years to rekindle a relationship with a cop seven years after he disappeared
Harrison had infiltrated the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity movement by playing at fundraising concerts as a DJ under the name ‘Boogie Knight,’ between 2004 and 2007.
He disappeared in 2007 after claiming his mother was dying and he needed to look after.
In 2014 he managed to persuade Maya to leave her partner of five years and resume their own relationship, after claiming he wanted them to have children together.
Ms Kaufmann told the inquiry: ‘Over the next few months, he expressed a desire to reassume the relationship and to have children together.
‘As a result of this fresh contact, “Maya” broke up with the partner she had been in a relationship with for the previous five years and who she was also living with at the time.
‘In February of 2015, “Maya” and Rob slept together for the first time since they had been separated in 2007, and they had unprotected sex, and “Maya” then had to take emergency contraception the following day.
‘The same day, Rob disappeared; and with the exception of one email sent to her in 2016, he has never contacted “Maya” since.’
In 2017, Maya discovered Rob Harrison was an undercover officer working with Met Police’s Special Demonstrations Squad.
Ms Kaufmann told the inquiry officers would ‘groom,’ women by mirroring their interersts and values.
She said: ‘Unsurprisingly, many of the women fell deeply in love, believing they had met their soul mate.
‘They then deployed a markedly similar and deeply cruel exit strategy – a sudden withdrawal often accompanied by an apparent mental breakdown, or emotional trauma.
‘This left the women not only dealing with their own sudden, inexplicable loss, but also carrying a huge burden of worry and fear about the welfare of their lost partner.’
Ms Kaufmann believed there are probably more women who do not know they were involved with police spies
Addressing the inquiry, Ms Kaufmann said that 18 of the relationships she was presenting were sexual, two were friendships that were sexual at times, and the other was a long-term, close friendship.
The earliest began in 1985 and the most recent ended in 2015, four years after details of undercover tactics began to be made public and sparked outrage.
Details of the conduct of police moles began to emerge in 2011, after environmental activists discovered that a man called Mark Kennedy was a police spy.
Ms Kaufmann told the inquiry there are probably more women who do not know that they were involved with police spies.
‘It’s very likely that there are other women who have yet to discover they were affected,’ she said.
‘The inquiry itself has led to a number of women, including six of those that I represent, discovering that relationships which they always believed to be significant and genuine were, in fact, police infiltrations.
‘There may be other women in the same position who don’t know that. The extensive anonymity granted by the inquiry to officers, including of their cover names, means that these women will continue to be denied the truth.’
So far, inquiry chairman Sir John Mitting has ruled that the cover names of 51 officers must remain secret, along with 119 of the real names of officers and staff.
There are more than 30 women identified as having been deceived into relationships, and their lawyers claim officers becoming involved with campaigners was a deliberate tactic.