Stephen Lawrence murder investigation to be reviewed by independent police force

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Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the failed investigation sparked a landmark public inquiry
By Daniel De Simone
BBC News

The Met Police has agreed that an independent police force will review the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.

It comes after calls by Stephen’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, for the dormant inquiry to be reopened.

Earlier, the Met apologised to her for breaking a promise to answer questions raised by a BBC investigation.

The Met said it “recognised” Baroness Lawrence’s concerns, and an outside force would “review our approach”.

How the independent review will work and which force will carry it out are yet to be established but it could lead to the murder investigation being reopened.

Baroness Lawrence used a BBC interview on Monday morning to call on the Met to reopen the murder investigation, saying there was more the force could do to bring all the killers to justice.

Stephen was 18 when he was stabbed to death in a racist attack by a group of young white men on 22 April 1993, in Eltham, south London.

His murder and the subsequent botched investigation was a watershed moment, sparking nationwide debate about institutional racism in policing.

The Met’s early failures were criticised by the landmark Macpherson Report in 1999 – which found the Met to be institutionally racist.

The force’s disastrous handling of the case means only two of Stephen’s killers have been convicted. Gary Dobson and David Norris were two of the original five prime suspects in the case.

In 2020, the Met stopped investigating the murder, saying all viable lines of inquiry had been exhausted.

Last year, the BBC publicly identified a sixth suspect, Matthew White, who died in 2021 aged 50. Multiple police failings to properly investigate him were also revealed by the BBC.

After the BBC named Mr White, the Met promised Baroness Lawrence answers to various questions but did not provide them.

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley apologised on Monday and told the BBC that “on top of the failures over the decades, this is totally unacceptable”.

Watch: There are still three suspects out there, says Stephen Lawrence’s mother

News of the review by an independent police force emerged after what London Mayor Sadiq Khan described as a “frank conversation” with the Met Commissioner on Monday afternoon.

Speaking on Monday evening after their meeting, the mayor said Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley would be “asking a separate police force to look into the assessment the Met police have made” in relation to the case.

Mr Khan said: “I’m hoping that reassures the Lawrence family, Doreen in particular, that under the new leadership in the Met police service, they will redouble their efforts to make sure Doreen and family think that this police service have learned lessons from yesteryear.”

A Met spokesperson said: “While we have not identified any additional viable lines of inquiry, recognising the concerns held by Baroness Lawrence and the significance of this investigation we will be asking an outside force to review our approach.”

The new force will have to assess a vast amount of evidence. It will look to see if there is any chance of bringing living suspects to justice.

A source close to the mayor’s office said the Commissioner agreed the new force will have to command the Lawrence family’s confidence.

4 hours ago26 June 202326 June 2023

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