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Scotland Yard detectives who bungled Stephen Lawrence murder case are probed for misconduct

Life cut short: A-level student Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death in 1993

Two former Scotland Yard detectives have been interviewed under caution over alleged criminal offences in the bungled original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.

Retired Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton, in charge for the first three days of the inquiry, and retired Detective Chief Superintendent William Ilsley, who supervised him, were questioned this week over claims they committed misconduct in public office during the initial stages of the probe.

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.

Two other senior officers involved in the widely criticised first investigation – retired Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden and retired Detective Inspector Ben Bullock – are due to be questioned under caution for alleged misconduct in public office in the coming weeks.

All four former officers strenuously deny committing any offences, with supporters claiming they are victims of a ‘politically motivated witch-hunt’.

Stephen’s campaigning parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, say a series of shocking errors in the early stages of the first murder investigation cheated them of ‘complete’ justice. 

Two ex-Scotland Yard detectives have been interviewed under caution over alleged criminal offences in the bungled original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation - including retired Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton (pictured)

Mr Crampton, in charge for the first three days of the inquiry, and retired Detective Chief Superintendent William Ilsley (pictured), who supervised him, were questioned this week over claims they committed misconduct in public office during initial stages of the probe

Two ex-Scotland Yard detectives have been interviewed under caution over alleged criminal offences in the bungled original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation. Retired Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton (left), in charge for the first three days of the inquiry, and retired Detective Chief Superintendent William Ilsley (right), who supervised him, were questioned this week over claims they committed misconduct in public office during initial stages of the probe

Two other senior officers involved in the widely criticised first investigation – retired Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden and retired Detective Inspector Ben Bullock (pictured) – are due to be questioned under caution for alleged misconduct in public office in the coming weeks

Retired Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden (pictured)

Two other senior officers involved in the widely criticised first investigation – retired Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden (right) and retired Detective Inspector Ben Bullock (left) – are due to be questioned under caution for alleged misconduct in public office in the coming weeks

Baroness Lawrence said last night: ‘I am pleased that finally after so many years, senior police officers who were involved in investigating Stephen’s murder are being put under scrutiny and questioned about their conduct. It is high time that someone is held accountable for what happened.’

A file on the misconduct allegations is expected to be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether charges should be brought.

Two of the original five prime suspects in the Lawrence case, named as Stephen’s murderers by the Daily Mail in February 1997, were jailed for life in 2012 following a belated forensic breakthrough.

Despite the convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris, three other members of the gang that stabbed Stephen to death in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, south-east London on April 22, 1993, remain at large. 

For the past four 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.

According to reports, there is no evidence to suggest that the killers were protected by corrupt officers.

The Daily Mail front page, February 1997. Despite the convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris, three other members of the gang that stabbed Stephen to death in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, south-east London on April 22, 1993, remain at large. For the past four 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 Daily Mail front page, February 1997. Despite the convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris, three other members of the gang that stabbed Stephen to death in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, south-east London on April 22, 1993, remain at large. For the past four 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

But possible offences of misconduct in public office have been identified by NCA investigators.

In its 1999 report, the public inquiry into how police failed to catch Stephen’s murderers, chaired by retired High Court judge Sir William Macpherson, was sharply critical of all four former detectives now accused of misconduct. 

Of the Met Police, the scathing report said: ‘The investigation was marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers.’

A 1997 Police Complaints Authority probe into the murder investigation rubbished claims that a ‘wall of silence’ had foiled the Met’s efforts to bring the culprits to justice. It said vital witnesses did come forward during the early days of the inquiry – but they were not treated properly.

‘There is considerable evidence that the people of Eltham came forward with valuable information, albeit in some cases reluctantly,’ it said. 

‘The early information was vital. It could only have come from sources close to the suspects since street rumour and gossip would not have had time to develop. Responding to information in order to produce evidence should have been a primary focus of the murder investigation.’

The Police Superintendents’ Association said: ‘We are surprised and disappointed that our retired members are once again being asked to provide information relating to this case. The association hopes that it will be concluded as quickly as possible.’

The criminal offence of misconduct in public office ‘is committed when the office holder acts (or fails to act) in a way that constitutes a breach of the duties of that office’. 

Questioning under caution does not imply guilt. The maximum sentence is life in prison.

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