Four police officers involved in Stephen Lawrence case could face criminal prosecution for ‘misconduct’ over arrest of five suspects linked to 1993 racist murder
- Four police officers have today been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service
- Will consider if officers in original murder investigation committed misconduct
- It follows a multi-million-pound investigation by the National Crime Agency
Four police officers have today been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service over their handling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will be asked to consider if four senior officers in the original murder investigation committed misconduct in public office.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it has passed a file of evidence to prosecutors to consider whether they should be charged over alleged misconduct in public office.
All four ex-Metropolitan Police officers held senior roles in the first few weeks of the original investigation into the 18-year-old’s murder, the IOPC said.
It follows a multi-million-pound investigation by the National Crime Agency – Britain’s version of the FBI – into why officers in charge of the first Met investigation into 18-year-old Stephen’s murder in 1993 did not make arrests for two weeks, despite officers repeatedly being given the names of suspects.
Four former police officers have today been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service over their handling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
Gary Dobson, left, and David Norris, right, were convicted of Stephen’s murder
Stephen was murdered by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993, as he ran to catch a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks.
All four former officers strenuously deny committing any offences, with supporters previously claiming they were victims of a ‘politically motivated witch-hunt’.
The four former officers have been interviewed under caution, which does not imply guilt.
The offence of misconduct in public office – effectively breach of duty – carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
For the past five years, the NCA has been investigating whether the Lawrence murder suspects – which also included brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight – were shielded as a result of corruption and who, if anyone, in Scotland Yard was involved.
The original investigation into his death was hampered by institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, and claims that corrupt officers had sought to protect Norris, whose father Clifford Norris was a notorious drug dealer.
Last year ex-detective sergeant John Davidson was cleared by the IOPC of any corruption, having faced claims that he was in the pay of Clifford Norris.
The IOPC directed a spin-off investigation into the handling of the early stages of the investigation, and it was carried out by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
One issue under consideration was the two-week delay in making any arrests after Stephen’s death, despite suspects being named by anonymous informants the day after he died.
Scotland Yard has spent more than £50 million over 25 years trying to convict the suspects.
A series of forensic breakthroughs led an Old Bailey jury to convict two of the five suspects – Gary Dobson and David Norris – in 2012.
Despite the convictions of Dobson and Norris, three other members of the gang that stabbed Stephen to death remain at large.
IOPC Regional director Sarah Green said: ‘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 Crown Prosecution Service (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.’
Ms Green added: ‘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.’