The father of one of Stephen Lawrence’s killers used a network of corrupt police officers to shield his family from investigation, relatives have claimed.
David Norris murdered 19-year-old Stephen in Eltham, south-east London 25 years ago, in a case which has since changed the course of British justice.
It led to a review of London’s Met Police finding the investigation into the murder was incompetent and the force was institutionally racist.
Relatives of Norris have now claimed that Norris’s father Clifford – a gangster who once controlled part of south London’s drugs trade – had influence with corrupt police in the area.
Relatives of Stephen Lawrence’s killer David Norris (left) have said his gangster father Clifford (right in 2014) used a network of corrupt police to shield his family
Clifford Norris (pictured in 2006), who controlled drug deals in parts of south London, had ‘the old bill in his pocket in every nick’, his relatives have said. He has denied any such influence
Naomi Smith, who is related to Norris by marriage, told The Guardian: ‘Clifford Norris had the old bill in his pocket in every nick.’
She and her daughter claimed Clifford also used his influence to help his other son, Alex, when he was a suspect in a seperate killing four years before Stephen’s murder.
Files leaked in 2012 detailed accusations against one of the detectives on the Lawrence investigation, who was said to have operated a corrupt arrangement with Clifford Norris.
Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a five-strong gang in south London in 1993. His botched investigation into his death led to huge changes to the justice system and milestone review of the Met Police
A police whistleblower said a number of crooked officers ‘looked after old man Norris’, it was claimed at the time.
The new claims from Norris’s relatives are the latest part of the jigsaw which shows the alleged corruption at the time Stephen’s killers evaded justice.
Responding the new revelations, Stephen’s mother Doreen told The Guardian: ‘I thought that after 25 years I could no longer be shocked by the conduct of the Metropolitan police. However, if it is true that they did this, my sense of outrage will have risen to new heights.’
David Norris was finally jailed for Stephen’s murder in 2012, along with Gary Dobson, but the other suspects Luke Knight and brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt have never faced trial.
The two convictions came after a decision in 2006 to submit every exhibit from the case for a full forensic review by a private firm.
The discovery of tiny flakes of Stephen’s blood and fibres on clothes seized in the probe ultimately led to Dobson and David Norris being arrested in 2011 and charged with his murder. On January 3, 2012, they were found guilty and jailed for life.
David Norris (pictured during violence as he left the public inquiry into Stephen’s dead in 1998) was one of five main suspects in the Lawrence murder who evaded justice following the killing. He and another of the murderers were finally jailed in 2012
Members of the Norris family covered their faces as they arrived at his court case in 2012
The two convictions came after a landmark public inquiry led to changes in ‘double jeopardy’ laws which barred suspects being tried for the same crime twice.
It emerged that, in the 1993 murder inquiry, detectives failed to act quickly on tip-offs made within days identifying the key five suspects.
Four days after the stabbing surveillance officers stood by as a young man left the Acourts’ family home carrying clothing covered in a black bin liner.
Clifford Norris, who was jailed for intent to supply drugs and possessing a submachine-gun but freed from prison in 2001, denied having influence on police.
He told The Observer in 2006: ‘I never became involved with underhand dealings or giving money to coppers. Never did I give the police any money or a retainer to get them on the payroll. I don’t know any bent coppers.’
A timeline of the Stephen Lawrence murder case
April 22, 1993: Stephen is stabbed to death in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, South-East London. Within days Neil and Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris are identified as prime suspects.
July 1993: Prosecutors drop a case against Neil Acourt and Luke Knight. Months later an inquest is halted amid claims of ‘dramatic’ new evidence.
April 1996: An Old Bailey private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family against Neil Acourt, Knight and Dobson collapses.
February 1997: An inquest jury finds Stephen was ‘unlawfully killed by five white youths’. The next day this newspaper accuses all five men under the front page headline ‘Murderers’.
February 1999: The Macpherson report finds police guilty of an appalling catalogue of mistakes and ‘institutional racism’.
April 2005: The double jeopardy principle, preventing suspects being tried twice for the same crime, is scrapped for certain offences when there is compelling new evidence.
November 2007: Scotland Yard confirms it is investigating new forensic evidence.
May 2011: The Court of Appeal agrees Dobson’s 1996 acquittal for the murder can be quashed and he can be put on trial again.
January 2012: Dobson and Norris are found guilty of Stephen’s murder.
September 2016: Police announce they have received ‘significant information’ after a fresh appeal to identify a woman whose DNA was found on a bag strap left at the murder scene.
April 2018: Scotland Yard admits it has no new lines of inquiry in the investigation into Stephen’s murder and is preparing to shelve it.