‘Britain’s FBI’ to investigate corruption in Lawrence case

Was there perhaps some uncomfortable shuffling in their seat by a senior Croydon Conservative on Friday, when it was announced that the National Crime Agency, described as “Britain’s equivalent of the FBI”, has started an investigation into allegations of corruption in the Metropolitan Police which helped to protect the murderers of Stephen Lawrence?

David Osland, right, in his time as a Coulsdon West councillor, alongside his long-time colleague, Gavin Barwell

David Osland, right, in his time as a Coulsdon West councillor, with his Tory colleague, Gavin Barwell, now MP for Croydon Central

The NCA investigation, according to The Grauniad, “will focus on the first police investigation carried out in 1993 into the murder of the 18-year-old by a racist gang”.

The Deputy Commissioner at Scotland Yard in overall charge of the investigation at that time was David Osland.

Since his retirement from “The Job” later in 1993, and for 20 years until he stood down at the last local elections, Osland was a Tory councillor for Coulsdon West. After retiring from the council in 2014, Osland has held senior positions within Croydon Conservatives.

Osland provoked widespread disgust when he suggested that officers accused of racism by Stephen Lawrence’s parents should consider suing the murder victim’s family for libel. Osland has never apologised for those remarks, even though a public inquiry into the handling of the investigation subsequently branded the Met “institutionally racist”.

It was not until 2012 that two men were prosecuted for the murder. “Had the police done their job properly, I would have spent the last 18 years grieving for my son rather than fighting to get his killers to court,” Doreen, now Baroness Lawrence, said at the time of that verdict.

Stephen Lawrence: the role in the murder inquiry of David Osland has been subject of widespread condemnation

Murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence: the role of David Osland has been subject of widespread condemnation

Lawrence’s parents have always claimed that corrupt officers engaged in a conspiracy that helped thwart the hunt for the killers, which the Met denies. There were further allegations that senior Met figures order undercover officers to find “dirt” about the Lawrence family, to smear them, something of which Osland has denied having any knowledge.

On Friday, responding to the news of this latest investigation, Doreen Lawrence said, “We still believe that corruption played a part in keeping Stephen’s killers free. We have had to fight to get this far, so we can finally have a criminal investigation into the former police officers we suspect.

“Police corruption has denied us, and others, justice. It is a denial of the trust the police and state have placed in them by citizens. Those who betray the trust placed in them, should face justice, whenever it catches up with them.”

The new inquiry follows a review ordered by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, into the Lawrences’ concerns. The NCA is directly answerable to the Home Secretary. The investigation will examine whether there was corruption and who was involved. It is believed this is the first time the NCA has investigated alleged police corruption.

The Guardian reports that the NCA investigation began on March 9.

The Stephen Lawrence case is regarded as one of the most important in the history of the criminal justice system, having sparked inquiries, reforms of the police and challenges to racial attitudes in Britain. As a result of this latest investigation, it may yet prompt further societal changes.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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