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THE parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence are losing confidence in the public inquiry into undercover policing, their lawyers said today.
In an opening statement for Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Imran Khan QC said that she doubts the investigation will discover why her family was spied on by undercover police when demanding justice for her son.
He said: “Baroness Lawrence is losing confidence, if she has not already lost it, in this inquiry’s ability to get to the truth.
“This inquiry is not delivering on what was promised and is not achieving what she expected.”
Heather Williams QC, representing Stephen’s father Dr Neville Lawrence, said: “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.”
She added that the inquiry must be “capable of establishing the truth of what happened and capable of learning the lessons necessary to prevent reoccurrence.”
Stephen’s parents also both raised concerns about the number of police officers and staff who have been granted anonymity.
Currently, the cover names of 51 officers remain secret, along with the 119 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 only one officer, David Hagan, has been revealed.
Baroness Lawrence’s statement said that it was only the public nature of the Macpherson Inquiry into her son’s death that meant the incompetence and racism within 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.”
Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a gang of racists in 1993, after which the original investigation into his death was marred by incompetence and racism within the police.
Nearly 20 years later two of his killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally jailed, but the remaining three suspects never faced justice.
Undercover officers spied on the family’s campaign, with whistleblower Peter Francis claiming he had been tasked with finding “dirt” on the family and their supporters.
The inquiry also heard statements from other core participants including The Monitoring Group, an anti-racist organisation formerly known as the Southall Monitoring Group, and Marc Wadsworth, the founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA), who facilitated a meeting between the Lawrence family and Nelson Mandela. Mr Wadsworth’s lawyer Philippa Kaufman said the Met had refused to confirm or deny whether the ARA had been subject to surveillance.
In the The Monitoring Group’s opening statement, also read by Mr Khan, it said that the inquiry process “has been disappointing and damaging to its own credibility” and has “led to the creation of an unequal playing field in favour of those who spied.”
Mr Khan read: “However, the inquiry exists because of the bravery and tenacity of core participants, especially the Lawrence family and targeted [environmental activist] women.
“It has substance because of the whistleblower who exposed the skeletons in the first place and journalists who uncovered the horrors to the public.
“Its conviction derives from the unshakeable spirit of protestors – black and white, women and men – who dared to dream for a better world.
“That dream will live on regardless of the conclusions of this inquiry.”
The inquiry continues.
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